Zeiner expands as a KSU heptathlete



A small town did not mean small dreams for Marion native Julia Zeiner.

This winter the sophomore in kinesiology will return to Ahearn Field House at Kansas State University for her second season on the Wildcat track and field team.

?It?s kind of a dream, because I always wanted that to happen,? Zeiner said. ?Competing in the Big 12 was an honor. Competing for K-State was an honor.?

Zeiner graduated from Marion High School in 2010, where she starred in volleyball and basketball, as well as track and field.

She is competing in seven events combined into a heptathlon. The events include the 100-meter hurdles, the 200 meters, 800 meters, high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin throw.

One event has a special place in her heart.

?Long jump has always been my favorite,? Zeiner said. ?I?ve done it since I was in seventh grade. It?s the only event I?ve stuck with this long.?

She said her high school track and field coaches really helped prepare her for competing at a higher level.

?They helped push me because I knew I needed to work hard and train hard,? she said.

Zeiner was recruited by K-State for track and field in fall of her senior year.

?It was during volleyball and I?really wasn?t decided on what sport I wanted to do in college,? she said. ?I had to take into consideration everything.?

In February, she made her decision to go with track and field at KSU.

?The offers I was getting (in other sports) were all from other smaller schools, and I really wanted to play Division I,? she said. ?I thought I would go further in track than at any other sport.?

And go far she has, taking sixth in the heptathlon in the Big 12 Conference meet last fall.

?It was kind of like a dream come true, standing on the podium at a Big 12 meet,? Zeiner said of that special moment. ?I accomplished a lot.?

Zeiner?s journey to the podium was not without bumps and difficulties.

?You have to be very responsible as to how you spend your time and get your things done,? she said. ?It was difficult transitioning from a small school to a university.?

Learning to balance work and play is challenging for any new college student, but adding a Division I sport to the mix can make life even more stressful.

?It?s pretty time consuming, especially being a heptathlete with all those events,? Zeiner said. ?It?s now your life. In high school it was something you did for fun, but in college it?s really a commitment. You have to be devoted to it.?

Zeiner did have her teammates to help her along.

?My team, I get along with great,? she said. ?They?re supportive and fun. They?re all there doing what you want to do. In high school, not everyone cared.

?I spend a lot of time with my team,? she added. ?Those are special moments.?

Zeiner said her coaches have played a big part in her adjustment and growth.

?They?ve really helped me,? she said. ?Our head coach, Cliff Rovelto, he is very good at what he does. He breaks down your goals that you want to do and helps you make those goals.

?They?re all there to help you and make you better, and that?s helped a lot.?

But Zeiner said in the end it?s up to the athlete to make it happen.

?It just takes a lot of determination and responsibility,? she said. ?I have to take care of things. You have to make time for it.?

Zeiner said she?s thankful for the support of her hometown and community.

?It?s a small town and everybody knows everybody, so someone on the street will compli?ment me,? she said.

As for small-town athletes hoping for Division I success, Zeiner said the key is personal effort and a commitment to their sport.

?Just keep working at it,? she said. ?If that?s your goal, it can become reality. Just work at it as hard as you can and it?ll come true.?

Meanwhile, Zeiner enjoys the fruit of her labors and looks forward to this season?s opportunities.

?It?s all about getting out of it what you put into it,? Zeiner said. ?It?s all very rewarding when all you put into it really pays off.?

More from Hillsboro Free Press
HHS softball sweeps Lyons
Defense proved to be the difference in Hillsboro?s 9-2, 8-3 softball sweep...
Read More