Freund signs with UNI for women’s track and field
HARLAN -- All the drive and hard work necessary to achieve a lofty goal has come to fruition for Liv Freund.
On Monday, December 21, the Harlan Community senior officially made her dream come true, signing a national letter of intent to join the women’s track and field program at the University of Northern Iowa.
Liv is the daughter of Matt and Laura Freund, rural Earling, and has been a standout competitor for the HCHS girls track and cross country programs throughout her days as a Cyclone.
Freund recently completed her cross country career by placing 37th out of 131 runners at the 3A state meet, clocking a career-best time of 20:19.6. She also earned Academic All-State honors from the IATC.
Freund will focus on track at UNI, specifically the 800-meter races. Running for the Panthers became a high goal of Freund’s following her junior year of cross country.
“I’m not entirely sure why, to be honest, but I just really resolved to run the times I had to run in order to be able to run at UNI,” she said. “UNI was just... where I wanted to go.
“I remember telling Coach (Doug) Renkly after the (2019) state meet that it didn’t matter if I had to train five times a day; if it meant I’d get where I wanted to go, I’d do it.”
Thus began a hard winter of training for Freund as 2019 turned into 2020. Track practices began in February, but the season was put on hold by mid-March and eventually cancelled due to COVID-19.
Freund was devastated by the news, but undaunted. She also had help.
Friend and classmate Trey Gross, perhaps the most accomplished boys cross country runner in HCHS history, offered to serve as a pace car, if you will, as Freund attempted to clock the 800 times necessary to impress Northern Iowa.
As the training progressed into the summer, more friends offered their support to record Freund’s official time trials for UNI at the Swede Johnson Track (Merrill Field).
“There was a lot of support - probably five to eight people there every time who would take videos and time and stuff, so then we just sent those in,” she said.
Prior to the season being cancelled, Freund had set an 800-meter goal of 2:20 for the spring. She didn’t quite get there, but still ran the best times of her life during the summer.
“I ended up running two 2:25s,” she said. “It wasn’t my goal, but I’m still happy with it because it was in the middle of June and there was no competition.”
The time trial videos eventually paid off as Northern Iowa made a scholarship offer to Freund “a couple of months ago” that she happily accepted.
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