It didn’t take long for Dejuan Frye to pinpoint the biggest difference between Washington state and Iowa.
“There’s lots of corn fields, and that’s all you see for a long time,” he said.
But settling into a new environment has never been much of a problem for Frye.
Following a move from Alabama to Washington his freshman year of high school, he racked up six individual Class 2A state track and field titles at River Ridge before graduating last spring.
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And, last weekend, the true freshman made his first substantial mark as an athlete at the University of Iowa. Frye’s first-place finish in the 400-meter dash at the Jim Click Shootout in Tuscon, Arizona, was a personal best at 46.58 seconds.
“On that day, I don’t know, I think I just felt good and felt like all my training came together at one point, like I did everything right in that one race,” Frye said.
His mark is the fourth-best time in the Big Ten, and the 16th-best in Division I this season. It also qualifies Frye for the NCAA West Regional Championships in Lawrence, Kansas, in May.
“It’s exciting to see him capitalize on the training and really start to break through and gain confidence and come into his own,” said assistant coach Jason Wakenight, who also recruited Frye. “Early on in the season, I think he was kind of a little bit in shock at how competitive it was. He was basically king of the hill out there (in Lacey), and was winning everything. …
“For him to show up in practice and have four, five, six guys on our team that would be able to beat him in practice on any given day, I think he just had to build on his confidence and just put his head down and keep working.”
Frye’s overall performance in the meet earned him the Iowa track and field men’s athlete of the week honor. He is seventh on the program’s all-time list in the 400. He also anchored the 4x400 relay team, which ran a 3:12.79 — the fourth-best time in the program’s history.
“For him to have this performance, I think he’s realizing how good he can be,” Wakenight said. “He doesn’t really shy away from competition anymore. I think he thinks he can win any race he’s in.”
Wakenight said the 400 and 4x400 relay will be Frye’s main events moving forward, though he has the ability to capitalize on short sprinting events as well.
“Our new objective is to get him to do that (in the 400) every time out,” Wakenight said. “If he can hit that kind of time every single time out, he’s going to be a pretty happy guy by the end of the season.”
Frye seems happy enough in Iowa so far. He said he likes moving to new places.
“It’s a new experience,” Frye said. “I’d never been to the Midwest, so it’s really new, just the environment. Around here, it’s not a big city like Seattle and Olympia, but it’s more of a small town. It’s fun. I like it.”
Said Wakenight: “He’s an extremely loveable character. Everybody on the team loves him, he gets along with everybody.”
GEODUCKS’ MOORE RECOGNIZED BY CCC
Irene Moore, a senior at The Evergreen State College, was recognized Monday as the women’s outdoor track athlete of the week by the Cascade Collegiate Conference.
Moore broke her own school records, set earlier this season, in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles at the Rich Allen Classic on Saturday in Newberg, Oregon. She recorded a 16.06 in the 100 hurdles.
Her first-place time of 1:03.52 in the 400 hurdles is also a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national meet provisional qualifier. She is ranked eighth in the NAIA in the event.
SAINTS NAMED TEAM OF THE WEEK
The Saint Martin’s women’s softball team was named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference team of the week on Monday.
The Saints swept Northwest Nazarene in four games last weekend to maintain their first-place spot in the GNAC standings.
“It’s an obvious honor to have the team win the Team of the Week,” coach Rick Noren said in a news release. “Our players have worked hard all year, so it’s great to see their work recognized.”
GNAC softball pitcher of the week Kim Nelson picked up wins in both of her starts, holding NNU to one run in each game and improving to 11-6 this season (2.07 ERA). SMU leads the GNAC in team ERA at 2.52.