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Iowa State Student-Athlete Spotlight: Kiel Uhl
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By Grant Wall
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

AMES, Iowa - Kiel Uhl is a rare breed among student-athletes.

A standout cross country runner, Uhl helped Iowa State's team to a berth in the 2007 NCAA Cross Country Championships for the first time in nearly a decade. And running isn't his only talent.

“He is unique in the sense that there are a lot of really good students who are athletes,” said Corey Ihmels, director of men’s and women’s track and cross country at Iowa State. “I’ve heard it from more then one professor in the architecture department on how good he really is. 

“He’s probably a better architect then he is a runner, and he’s a really good runner. And he’s passionate in both things. As a coach, it’s nice to know that your athletes have found something they are passionate about and are going to be successful in life.”

An Academic All-Big 12 honoree, Uhl is a senior with a GPA above 3.8.

“Both things are a lifestyle - architecture and running,” Uhl said. “The discipline needed for one goes hand-in-hand with the other. Things needed in cross country can be applied in the classroom.”

A native of Prole, Iowa, Uhl has qualified for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship each of his three seasons. His best finish was his freshman season in 2005 when he was 67th out of 253 competitors.

Uhl hopes to build on his NCAA accomplishments and help the Cyclones achieve bigger goals this season.

“Our next step is to improve our performance in conference,” Uhl said. “Realistically, a top-two finish in conference is the next logical step. Our goal is to win regionals after placing third last season. With nationals, our goal is to be a top ten team, but I can really see us doing better than that if everyone stays healthy.”

Those are lofty goals but they have the coach's approval.

“You have to be able to set high expectations for yourself, and we have the personnel to do that,” Ihmels said. “These guys are really reaping the benefits of the guys who were here four or five years ago, who really bought into what we are doing.

“This is the first fall where we’ve had the personnel to really reach those goals we set for the program. If we’re not in it to do well and to try and be one of the top teams in the conference, then it’s not worth it. I think they guys are thinking the same way.”

Uhl leads a group of veteran runners who are being supplemented by several strong freshmen. Yonas Mebrahtu, Rico Loy, Joel Limo and Devin Allbaugh, the 2007 Iowa High School Cross Country Runner of the Year, will all be in the mix as the season starts. 

“We have the weapons necessary to succeed,” Uhl said.

The weapons and a home-course advantage. Iowa State will host the 2008 Big 12 Cross Country Championships in Ames on Nov. 1. 

“We have an opportunity to show off for our fans and to show everyone what Iowa State cross country has been working on,” Uhl said. “The cards are kind of getting played right, everything is stacked for us. If this isn’t the time, I don’t know what is.”

 

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