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Setting the pace

Uhl builds foundation at FDSH

July 31, 2012

In distance running, staggering across the finish line is not a sign of weakness; it's a showcase of competitiveness.

During her high school years at Fort Dodge, Lisa Uhl (Koll) embodied those attributes.

"She was one of those athletes that would push herself to the limits each time she raced,'' said her senior year cross country and distance track coach Tim Hanson. "She would push to the point where sometimes she was staggering across the finish line.

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"These days, it's rare to have an athlete push themselves to the limit and when they do, it makes a coach feel proud.''

From the start to the finish of her high school days in track and cross country, Uhl continued to get better and became one of the Top-10 runners in the state every year.

In her rookie campaign, she finished 13th in her signature event (3,000) and made a cross country splash in 28th.

"Lisa's demeanor was definitely laid back, personality wise,'' Hanson said. "She is one of the most competitive people I've ever known and that's including the boys cross country program. There's probably only two other people I would consider as competitive as her.

"She is so mentally strong. Running is one of those sports where you have to be mentally strong because when you start feeling the pain halfway through the race, if you're not mentally strong, most people will settle for the pace their running; but in Lisa's case, she thrived to push more and feel more of that pain.''

As a sophomore in track, she cracked the Top-10 and would remain there for the rest of her career. She was ninth in the 3,000 and 13th in the 1,500, while taking part in the 15th place 4x800. She was also 20th in cross country.

Her junior year of sixth (3,000), 11th (1,500) and eighth (4x800), along with 12th (cross country) set up what would be a strong and fitting end to her career.

"She could just deal with pain at running at an elite level,'' Hanson said. "A lot of athletes, not just running, don't like to push through the pain and get to that pain threshold to the next level.

"If a person wants to become better they need to know how to do that.''

Uhl found that threshold and ran above it when she was wrapping up her Dodger career. She jumped up the state medal stand. She was third (3,000), 10th (1,500), seventh (4x800) and eighth at state cross country.

"Every coach wants an athlete like Lisa,'' Hanson said. "Lisa can see things happening because of how determined she is. But in reality, to make it to the level where she's at, not many people get to that point.

"I know she never expected she would be where she currently is, but after her sophomore year at Iowa State, you could tell she was determined to see how far she could go with running.''

Uhl didn't stop after high school, she went on to Iowa State had two plans set: become a veterinarian and run at Iowa State. After a strong 2008 season, she jumped to the professional level, and in less than three days, she'll be competing in the Olympics.

"Anytime you have an athlete that made it to the level she's at - words can't explain how proud I am of her as a coach and a friend,'' Hanson said. "Our sport doesn't get much recognition in a 'sports world,' but to have a person like Lisa, hopefully she can motivate a person reading the articles about her, see how she went from an above average runner to one of the best distance runners in America.

"That speaks volumes.''



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