Daily Herald: Camplin's Collegiate Odyssey has a Happy Ending
by Craig Brueske/Daily Herald Correspondent
It has been a long, sacrificial trail for Brendan Camplin the last five years. But one that Camplin would not change if he had to it over again.
During his senior year at Batavia in 2004-05, Camplin enjoyed a highly successful high school season as the Suburban Prairie North Conference individual runner-up finisher in cross country as well as during track in the 800-meter run.
Upon graduation, Camplin hoped to continue his running career in college but when you finish in the top five of your graduating class, athletics takes a backseat to academics.
"I looked at a few Division III schools, especially Washington University in St. Louis which offered great academics," said Camplin.
"But it came down to Marquette and Iowa. While I wanted to continue running, academics were my top priority. I knew I'd be going somewhere on a non-scholarship basis."
Camplin eventually decided on attending the University of Iowa - a school that would challenge him both academically and athletically.
"After touring campus, meeting with Coach (Larry) Wieczorek and talking with some of the guys on the cross country team, Iowa was the place for me," said Camplin. "It just seemed like a good fit."
His freshman season didn't turn out as planned, however, after an early-season leg injury.
"Before I got hurt, I felt like I was making good progress," said Camplin. "But I'll admit there was a big bump up in intensity from running in high school to running in college."
Camplin eventually sat out the rest of the cross country season and all of the winter/spring track campaign sidelined with IT (illotibial) Band Syndrome, the effect of the tendon from his hip bone continuously rubbing against his knee.
"It started acting up in October (of 2005)," Camplin recalled. "It's an overuse injury and I suffered a few setbacks along the way because I tried to come back too soon."
The first injury of his career created a redshirt year for Camplin - one that required plenty of patience to get through.
"There definitely were questions coming in after high school but I talked about it with (former Glenbard North/Iowa) Eric MacTaggart and Coach Wiz," said Camplin. "I felt like it might not happen right away but that eventually I'd contribute something to the team.
"At some point, you have to see yourself being able to do it."
After getting his feet wet in a few cross country races as a sophomore, Camplin made steady improvements during his junior campaign.
"I figured out that consistency is the key for distance runners," he said. "And I gradually upped my mileage workload year by year (to 100 miles per week this season)."
As a junior, Camplin made the Hawkeyes' traveling cross country roster (9 during Big Ten season; 7 for the NCAA Regionals). His 8,000-meter time of 24:01 was good enough for eighth in school history and he finished 51st at the Midwest Regional.
During last winter's Big Ten Indoor Track Championships, Camplin placed 11th in the 3,000-meter run with a personal-best time of 8:19.97 while also dropping 24 seconds off his previous best clocking at 5,000 meters (14:37.87).
Before this season, the fifth-year senior received the biggest honor of his collegiate career when Wieczorek selected Camplin as one of two team captains (along with fellow fifth-year senior Tommy Tate).
"I'm not exactly sure how he (Wieczorek) does it but it was the coach's decision," said Camplin, one of 13 Illinois-bred runners on the Hawkeyes' 17-man roster this season. "It's quite an honor."
His final cross country season was an up-and-down ride that included a midseason injury.
"It was not the way I pictured it going," Camplin admitted. "I was in great shape coming in but I got hurt after the first couple meets, and two other guys in our top seven also got hurt."
Camplin recovered to finish as Iowa's No. 5 runner, placing 50th overall (87-man field) at the Big Ten Championships held Nov. 1 at Penn State
(University Park, Pa.). The Hawkeyes finished sixth in the team standings.
Two weeks later, Camplin capped his collegiate harrier career with a 61st-place finish (174-man field) at the NCAA Midwest Regional held Nov. 14 at Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. Iowa finished sixth in the 25-team field.
"We missed making nationals by two teams," said Camplin. "But I contributed what I could and did the best I could."
That also applies to his classroom contributions, as Camplin has been a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference member (2007-09). The biomedical engineering major will graduate December 19.
"Looking back, I love cross country," said Camplin, who may return for his final track season this spring if he pursues an MBA. "The team atmosphere was great, the road trips were fun. We had a close-knit group of guys and every year we made improvements.
"I'm happy with the way it turned out. It was a different college experience from most and I got an opportunity to see many campuses. It all went by in the blink of an eye.
"I have no regrets."