Toppin proves what it takes to be a Division I athlete


By Michelle Watson

It takes dedication and hard work to compete as a Division I athlete, and no one knows more about those characteristics than Andrea Toppin.

Toppin, a 2011 graduate of Ventura High School, runs cross 

country and track for Iowa State University.  While she was in high school, she brought home championship honors her senior year in both the 3,000 and 1,500 meter runs.  She also placed second in the 800 meter run.  In 2010, she placed fifth in the State Cross Country Meet and she qualified all four years of her high school career.

This was a big break out year for Toppin, who just completed her sophomore season as a Cyclone.

“This year I got the opportunity to travel with the team, which is very tough in Division I and especially at Iowa State,” said Toppin.

Toppin was in contention for quailfying for the NCAA’s first round in Austin, Texas.

“I was close, but I didn’t make it,” said Toppin.  “But I will next year.”

That kind of confidence can only be achieved through hours of hard work that begin in the summer months.

“They call summer the off-season, but it is during these months that we build our base of mileage for fall,” said Toppin.  “I know the whole town of Clear Lake thinks I’m nuts, but I run 80-85 miles a week.”

Seeing Toppin running around the lake is a common sight in Clear Lake.  She logs approximately 15 miles a day.  She said her coach recommends running the last four-eight miles at a faster pace.

“The coach wants us to get used to running longer distances on tired legs,” she explained.

Toppin, who runs outdoors year-round, said that training continues throughout the year, but as race season nears she tapers off and only does 70-75 miles a week.

In addition to running, Toppin also participates in general strength training programs and injury prevention exercises to strengthen her deep core, hips and gluts.

Burning that many calories, you would think Toppin would be able to eat whatever she wanted, but she said she mainly sticks to the three main food groups, and eats a lot of protein, whole grains, carbs and good fat.  She avoids high energy drinks and limits her sugar.  Working at the Viking Drive-in in Ventura makes following a strict diet extra hard.

“I eat three meals a day and lots of snacks.  I eat a lot of fruit and peanut butter and banana sandwiches and Greek yogurt,” she said.

The cross country season at Iowa State starts in September and runs through November.  Indoor track season is from January through March and the outdoor season is March through June.

Toppin runs the 3K and 5K during the indoor season and the 3K and steeple chase for the outdoor season.

“Not many people are familiar with the steeple chase event,” said Toppin.  “It is a 3,000 meter run with four barriers the height of regulation hurdles per lap with one of those barriers being a water jump.”

Being of a competitive nature, Toppin has many goals she would like to achieve during her career at Iowa State.  Her goals for the outdoor season include qualifying  for the first round of NCAA in the steeple chase and the 5K and she wants to qualify for Nationals in the steeple - Read More Via e-Edition

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