August 20, 2002
Indiana University coaches have a variety of recruiting tools at their dispersal - A beautiful campus with prestigious academics and a nationally-competitive athletics program. However, IU women's cross country coach Judy Wilson may have discovered her own secret weapon, her black labrador, Kaycee, when she went to see two-time Illinois High School State Champion Mindy Peterson of Milan (Ill.) Rockridge.
"I was at the Foot Locker Regional Meet in Kenosha, Wis.," Peterson recalled. "Coach was there with her black lab, and my dad loves Black Labs. He had never met Coach, but he saw a woman there with her dog, and he started playing with the dog. That struck up a conversation with Coach, and she asked who he was there to see, and he said "My daughter, Mindy Peterson." She said, " `That's who I am here to see, too.' "
Wilson can, at least in part, thank Kaycee for helping lure one of the Big Ten's top young runners to Bloomington. After finishing among the Hoosiers' top three in six of the seven cross country meets in which she competed last season, including a 16th place at the Big Ten Championship, Peterson will be looked upon as one of Indiana's leaders again this fall.
Peterson followed her solid cross country debut by finishing among the league's top eight in track and field in both the indoor mile and the outdoor 1500 meters. Despite the impressive showing, Peterson said it was not without some obstacles.
"My advice to freshmen is to come in and be confident in yourself with everything that you do," Peterson said. "It's a shock, because you come here having been first or second in every high school race, but that was the case for everyone who is here now."
Peterson's excellent work ethic certainly made an impression on her coach.
"Mindy is a very focused student-athlete," Wilson said. "Over the course of her first year, she has shown that she has what it takes to be one of the country's best. We're looking for her to be in the hunt at the Big Ten and gain national experience in cross country."
With the Aug. 30 Indiana Open at the IU Cross Country Course, Peterson and her teammates began their trek towards the Big Ten and hopefully, the NCAA Championships.
"The team is young, but gaining experience at the collegiate level," Wilson said. "There is great team chemistry in this group. This is the most disciplined and focused group I have ever coached. They are ready to do what it takes to win."