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Calvin Sports News
Multi-talented athlete turns to heptathlon
By Abe Huyser-Honig
Annie Vander Laan - click photo to enlarge image
Annie VanderLaan
(Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Seeing junior Annie Vander Laan out of uniform, you wouldn't guess what a competitor this quiet, unassuming young woman becomes on the track. Even her school record and three MIAA championships in the 100-meter hurdles only begin to tell the story, for Vander Laan is an athlete whose range of talent few can hope to imitate.

It's witnessed by her All-American and school-record-setting performance at last year's NCAA championships in the heptathlon, and appearances on top-ten all-time Calvin performance lists for no less than six events in addition to her school records (200, 400 hurdles, high jump, long jump, 4x100, and 4x400).

Attending nationals as a spectator her freshman year, Vander Laan, of Grand Rapids, decided that the next time she would be there to compete. Coach Kim had similar thoughts in mind for her, and suggested that she try a new event: the heptathlon. "At first I thought it was just five events," Vander Laan said, recalling her surprise at counting up to seven on her fingers as Kim listed them off. (The seven events of the heptathlon are the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 meters, long jump, javelin, and 800 meters).

Vander Laan welcomed the new challenge. "I had been doing the same things for so long," she says. In addition to getting more opportunities to long jump, which she had wanted to do for some time, competing in the heptathlon meant putting in extra practices on Saturdays with the throwers to master shot and javelin, her weakest event.

"It can get tough, especially if you have one event you struggle with," Vander Laan said of the two-day competition. "You just have to forget the past and focus for the next events."

At the NCAA III Championships this spring, VanderLaan achieved All-America distinction for the second straight year in the heptathlon, finishing fourth with a school record total of 4,674 points. She also ran on Calvin's All-American 4x100 and 4x400 meter relay teams that finished fifth and fourth respectively. In addition, she was named the MIAA's Most Outstanding Runner this spring.

For Vander Laan, a physical education/education major, the rewards of exercise go far beyond the physical benefits. Sharing in the accomplishments of teammates, helping them and learning from them all contribute to her love of track. "There's just a good feeling about doing a hard workout and feeling like you've accomplished something," she says.

Next year Vander Laan will be teacher aiding and student teaching. Her goals for her senior track season are characteristically straightforward: "This season I wanted to improve in the heptathlon, and I pretty much did. Next year I'd like to do the same, and to just keep going faster in the hurdles."

Women's Track & Field

Verizon Academic All-American
Erinn Boot named to first team

Coach of the Year
Jong-Il Kim receives award from USTCA

MIAA Track & Field


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