MT. PLEASANT — Reigning Southeast Iowa Conference cross-country champion Abby Ryon signed her letter of intent to attend and run at the University of Iowa on Tuesday in the Mt. Pleasant High School media center. Ryon will run cross-county, indoor track and outdoor track for the Hawkeyes.
“It’s been a crazy journey,” Ryon said. “I started looking at colleges during the summerof my junior year, looking mostly at D3 schools, just because I didn’t know how much potential I had. Iowa reached out to me after the Drake Relays this past spring. They said, ‘Hey, we’re interested.’ Reached out again in August, went and visited, and it felt like home.”
Ryon is coming off a top-10 finish at the state tournament and a third place finish in the 3000-meter run at state track last spring. She says Iowa stuck out because of the relationship between coaches and players.
“Coach (Randy) Hasenbank takes a very personal approach with each athlete,” Ryon said. “He takes value of everybody on the team. There’s only like 20 to 25 girls on the cross-country roster, so it allows for very individualized training. But still, that big team atmosphere. I was hanging out with the team, and they all said they love the coach, and he’s a great guy, and they all like hanging out with each other as well.”
Ryon has been one of the top runners in the SEC since she moved up to high school. She has run three years for current head coach Lyle Murray, who was on hand for the signing.
“She’s a great kid and an outstanding runner,” Murray said. “She was really good with the younger girls and helping move them along. She’s real competitive, which led the other girls to become more competitive. It just made my job more easy.”
Ryon and Coach Murray both credit part of Ryon’s growth to the boys and girls teams starting to practice together. Murray says that helped his top runner develop into a D1 athlete. “Coach (Mitch) Anderson and I had her work with the guys a lot,” Murray said. “We definitely co-coached, and our programs are basically one unit. I think that was a huge benefit to Abby, plus some of the guys. I think it was a great opportunity for her to have somebody as good as her or better than her every day at practice.”
Ryon currently plans on studying health and human physiology when she gets to Iowa City.
“Human anatomy I find really fascinating,” she says. “I truly am a student of the sport, and I would love to go into research about more of the biology behind running.”
Ryon still has plenty of work left to do in high school. She will enter her senior track season this spring as one of the favorites in both the 3000 and the 1500.