Wild Berry

“It’s intense. It’s brutal. There’s lots of competition and I love it.” Track may not be the same for everyone on the team, but sophomore Emily Wandling has been training through the hard and fast speed workouts since 6th grade. Years of perseverance certainly paid off – as a freshman, Wandling helped her 4×400 relay team place second at the State Track meet last year, while her sprint medley team was third. To top it off, she finished 20th in the long jump at the National Junior Olympics last summer amidst thousands of athletes. “I hate all workouts, especially ladders,” Wandling said, “but they make me as good as I am, so it’s worth it.” While competition and excellence keep her motivated, what she doesn’t realize is that she herself is an inspiration to peers. “Emily Wandling is the reason I come to track everyday,” said fellow teammate and friend sophomore Lauren Grant. “She’s crazy and weird and fun and always keeps me entertained.” Wandling brings excitement wherever she goes. “I have nine siblings and a twin brother, James, so life is pretty hectic at home,” she said. “He’s crazy, too.” Energetic and giggly, her sugar supply never runs low, thanks to the bag of Skittles that may seem permanently attached to her hand. “Whenever someone sees me, I’m always eating a bag of Skittles. My favorite is wild berry,” she said. Her signature, easy-to-spot running shoes are a perfect match: a purple, yellow and blue pair of Nikes, which she admits was unintentional. “Did you know ligers and tigons actually exist? They make them breed. Mr. Walter said so,” she tells her friends on the way to a track meet in Iowa City. Anxiety is the last thing she feels as she sings away the lyrics to Wyclef Jean’s “Sweetest Girl.” During the off-season, Wandling participates in cross-country to stay in shape. “I’ve gone out since seventh grade – I think I tried harder in middle school, though,” she said. “I don’t do that bad, but the [4 km] race is terrible and excruciating. I hate it! It’s fun, though, and my friends are in it.” Wandling’s performance at the Drake Relays in Des Moines last Friday was not as successful as she had hoped. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted,” she said, “I did better in long jump.” Wandling tied for 10th – an impressive achievement considering that this is her first year doing any field event. “Our 4×1 [team] had some complications with our handoffs… and I fell. But all of this makes me want to do even better at State. I’m very excited,” she said. The Girls Track team will run their conference meet today in Mason City, and the State Meet is a mere two weeks away. “I’m thinking positive thoughts and staying hydrated,” she said. “I think I have the right mindset that anything can happen before the end of this season!”