Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Sophomore strengthens synergy

Sophomore+distance+runner+Katie+Erb+in+the+4x400.
Sophomore distance runner Katie Erb in the 4×400.

UW-Whitewater’s women’s track and field has seen great success over the course of the program’s history, and their start to this season proves no different. Following the team’s annual Alumni meet, a tradition that draws in former and current Warhawk track and field athletes to celebrate the program’s storied history, Whitewater has started the indoor season with a first and third place finish in the Schlender and Squig Converse Invitationals, respectively. Of the bunch, sophomore distance runner Katie Erb continues to establish a name for herself week in and week out.  

In the Schlender Invitational, Erb finished with a time of 1:46.56 in the 600, placing third in the event. Her best performance of the season, however, came at the Squig Converse Invitational. Placing third in the mile, Erb secured a personal best time of 5:17.41, winning her UW-Whitewater’s Women’s Athlete of the Week award for the week of Jan. 22-28.  

 

You had a great month in January that’s highlighted by your UW-W Women’s Athlete of the Week award thanks to your personal best in the mile at the Squig Converse Invitational. What goes into the preparation throughout the season for you? 

I think the biggest thing is training. So like, even in (the) offseason, I feel like it all started in the summer, because you have to start training way in advance. The more training you put in, the harder you work, the better the outcome is gonna be. And I feel like just doing some of the workouts that coach Mills (Jeff Miller) gives us is the best thing to do.” 

You also run cross country in the fall. How does that help prepare you for track season? 

Putting in a lot more miles helps build up fitness. When you do the shorter stuff (in track), I’m able to maintain the speed longer because I had the fitness background.

 

Being a student athlete comes with its challenges, but it also comes with its rewards. What are some of the positives and negatives that come with that commitment? 

I have class during practice two of the days, so I have to practice earlier. That’s one of the negatives… we have a set practice time, so it’s good and bad. It’s good because you have a schedule, but it’s bad because in my one class, I literally don’t have another option. So, I have to miss out on practice… But I love being with the team, running with the team… It’s just really rewarding. You make some great friendships. It’s just like, you know, that’s a big time commitment. You have strength in the morning, you’ve got a workout at night, so you have to make sure you stay on top of your school. 

 

Going off friendships, you guys only have one senior on the team with Paige Fassbender. Being just a sophomore yourself, how have you stepped up in your role as a leader to keep everyone locked in and focused? 

I feel like the best thing to do is lead by example. If you work hard in a workout, someone else is going to see it and want to also work hard. Then also, make sure you’re encouraging everyone else as well. If you see someone doing a really good 400 or something in a workout, you’re just like, “Oh, that was really, really good.” You always just want to say encouraging things to keep everyone positive about their workouts. 

 

Erb has been a star for Whitewater this season, posting a personal best time in the mile of 5:17.41 at the Squig Converse Invitational Jan. 27.

You’re from a small town in Illinois—what about Whitewater stood out to you and made you go, “This is where I want to be,” compared to other schools? 

It actually does remind me of my hometown because it’s not huge. It’s big enough that it has a college feel, but it’s small enough that I get to actually know professors… and then also coach Mills. For cross country, when I met him, he was definitely a huge factor into wanting to come here.  

 

Talk to me about coach Mills. What has he done for you guys in preparation for track and cross country? 

He’s a really good coach. He definitely knows what he’s talking about. He’s always sending a workout thing, always sending out times in advance and what we’re gonna hit. He’s always like, “Be prepared for the next step,” and he’ll talk you through what the plan is for races and all of that. He definitely cares about us… he’ll always talk to my family, which is huge for me… he cares enough to go up and have conversations. 

 

What do Warhawk fans have to look forward to for the remainder of the track and field season? 

Hopefully we do really great at conference and just progress into outdoor (track season). 

 

Women’s track and field took first place at the Big Dawg Invite Saturday, Feb. 3, at UW-Stevens Point. They return to Kachel Fieldhouse Saturday, Feb. 10, to host the Midwest Elite Invitational, where the team finished fourth overall in last year’s meet. 

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About the Contributor
Gabe Sadoski, Assistant Women's Sports Editor

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