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Twiss Continues Working Towards Better Future

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February 27, 2014 
By Kelly McHugh

On Feb. 15, at the Iowa State Classic in Ames, Iowa, K-State track and field senior Erica Twiss soared over the hurdles. With a time of 8.24 in the 60 meters, Twiss tied the K-State indoor record - a feat forever etching her name in Wildcat history.

But there was no extra celebration after the event. As a matter of fact, she and head coach Cliff Rovelto didn't find out she had tied the school record until later that week.

"I had no clue; she had no clue," Rovelto explained. "Both of us are so involved in just getting better we don't even know where that is compared to other people. So I asked her, I said, 'Erica, did you realize you tied the school record?' she said, 'What are you talking about?' She had no idea. She was just like, 'Okay, that's good,' but she knows she's going to run faster and she's not worried about it."

Twiss' main focus during the indoor season is the pentathlon, but this season the driven athlete has also placed focus on competing in both the hurdles and the long jump.

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Getting to the place she is at today has been a long and difficult process for Twiss, Rovelto explained. He said training isn't about focusing on the final result, but it's about the path you take getting there. It's about athletes pushing themselves in practices along the way and knowing if they take care of business, the results will come.

"What's neat about Erica is she's really learned to appreciate, enjoy and embrace the process," Rovelto said. "A perfect example is looking at where she was a year ago in the hurdles versus where she is now. It's a big jump. I've been coaching for 35 years and I've never seen anyone improve in one year as much as she's improved. She's gone from being a girl that you're not even thinking about being at the national meet to a girl that you're thinking will make the finals at the national meet."

With all momentum swinging her way, Twiss is now looking forward to closing out her 2014 indoor season with a bang.

This weekend, K-State track and field will head back to Ames - this time for the Big 12 Indoor Championships. While Twiss placed seventh in the pentathlon last year, she has both higher hopes for this year's meet and a busier schedule for herself.

"I'm really excited about this one," Twiss said. "I'm doing the multi, the hurdles and I'm going to long jump also, so it's going to be a heavy load, but I'm so, so excited to see how everything ends up."

While Twiss' improvement between this season and last has been vast, her journey getting to this point in her senior campaign has been anything but easy.

Twiss' freshman season at K-State was a season littered with injuries that left her sitting on the sidelines more often than not. Unable to compete and unable to improve, Rovelto said that first year he didn't realize the athlete he had in Twiss.

"When she got here, she had issues with stress fractures and stuff almost immediately. She was struggling; it was just a mess," said Rovelto. "We knew she was a decent high school athlete and she wanted to be a heptathlete. She came here to be a heptathlete, but to be honest, for a year and a half, we didn't really know what we had. You could tell that she loved it, you could tell that there was stuff there, but was it ever going to be able to come out?"

Though practicing in pain and taking time off for injuries was tough, it was a mess that Twiss pushed herself through so that today, two years later, she's finally able to shine.

"It's been really motivating seeing how far I've come," she said. "I know I started out kind of shaky, but I like seeing that. I like seeing my starting point, where I'm at now and where I can end at if I stay on this path."

Her journey not only continues to motivate Twiss to continue strong, but it has also influenced teammates to do the same. 

"I was amazed with how well she came back," junior Sarah Kolmer, Twiss' roommate on road meets, said. "I thought she did an amazing job of being able to rebound from those injuries. She's really good about giving advice about being patient; she said she didn't start figuring things out until later on in her career here, so it's encouraging to have someone telling you that." 

After a solid performance at the Bill Bergman Invitational on Jan. 30, Twiss' score of 4,023 in the women's indoor pentathlon is currently a Big 12 best. In the 60-meter hurdles her time of 8.24 seconds is fourth best in the conference behind Texas' Morgan Snow (8.23), and in the long jump she is currently fifth in the Big 12 after jumping 6.12m/20-01.00 at the New Mexico Classic on Feb. 7.

"I think one of Erica's best athletic attributes is that she has always had a fire in her," All-American and former teammate Ryann Krais said. "I think the struggles she has faced have made her stronger, but more impressively, the struggles have never taken away from her desire to compete and succeed. It definitely is cool to see the improvements she has made on the track by working hard and trusting in the process."

Driven, passionate and ready to continue on the road to success, Twiss' goals for the remainder of her time at K-State are well within reach.

"I really want to win the Big 12 in the pentathlon," she began, "and I would like to qualify for nationals in all three events - hurdles, long jump and pentathlon. That's pretty tough, not many people do three events at nationals."

The 2014 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships begin tomorrow morning at 10a.m., in Ames, Iowa, and will be kicked off with the women's pentathlon multi events.

For more information on this year's K-State track and field athletes competing in the Big 12 Championships, click here.


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K-State's head coach Cliff Rovelto talks with Erica Twiss during the Wildcat Invitational at Ahearn Field House in Manhattan, Kansas on January 18, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
 


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