This article originally appeared in the summer 2016 Harker Quarterly.
Alumna Shatters Records at Pepperdine
It has been a very good year for Izzy Connell ’13! After a break from track while she spent her sophomore year abroad in Florence, Italy, Connell returned as a junior this year to set three Pepperdine University records in indoor track (60-, 200- and 4×400-meter relay) and four school records in outdoor track (100-, 200-, 400- and 4×400-meter relay). Connell actually broke her own record in the 200 three times throughout the season!
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t focused on the records,” said Connell. “I concentrated on achieving my own goal times in specific events and breaking records was just icing on the cake.” This is the school’s first year competing in indoor track, and Connell had the unique experience of traveling to Arizona with her teammates to race against collegiate and professional runners.
“Racing in between professional women was intimidating but the competition made me faster,” she recalled. Connell, who is studying psychology, has been named a scholar-athlete both seasons that she has competed at Pepperdine. Her secret to success is managing her time well.
“I never procrastinate because that just makes things worse in the long run,” Connell said. “Being a student athlete has definitely taught me to be disciplined when it comes to my studies.” Connell ran varsity track all four years at Harker, qualifying for CCS every year. She also set school records in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 runs and the 4×400 relay, all of which still stand, except the 800, which was broken by Niki Iyer, grade 11.
Niki Iyer Continues Stellar Career
In her time at Harker, Niki Iyer, grade 11, has accomplished a lot. The distance runner has multiple first team and league MVP awards; she holds the Harker record in the 800-meter, the 1600 and the 3200; she has been a top three CCS finisher in cross country and a top five CCS finisher in the 3200 for the past three seasons, with back to back fifth place finishes at the state cross country finals; she briefly held the top high school 3200 time in the country earlier this year; and, most recently, she was the 2016 CCS champ in the 3200 that led to a third place finish at the state finals.
The week before CCS, Iyer was ranked eighth in the state in the 3200, but according to coach Scott Chisam, “She has not pushed a fast race since early April … she will go all out this Friday.” And go all out she did, taking home a CCS championship, outrunning the next runner by 2.5 seconds and earning a trip to the state finals. At state, Iyer ran an incredible race, finishing third, less than a second behind the second place finisher.
“It’s been such a fun experience this past season, because I was blessed by being healthy,” said Iyer. “I’ve never had a full season where I’ve been injury-free, so it was pretty awesome to go out there and actually be able to perform to the best of my ability.” Heading into her senior year, Iyer hopes to leave Harker with a lasting impression of who she is as an athlete.
“I feel like the legacy I’d like to leave is not just one of fanfare and athletic accomplishments, but one in which people remember me as an athlete who just loved the sport,” she said.