March 31, 2014
The Gopher women’s track and field team will be back in action later this week at the South Florida Collegiate in Tampa, Fla. One of the sprinters running for the Gophers will be Erin Hawkins, a redshirt freshman from Iowa who has overcome two major knee operations to compete at the University of Minnesota.
The following is an excerpt from a feature piece titled “30 Years Ahead of Her Time” which details the challenges Hawkins has faced since the first knee injury during her senior year of high school and how she’s risen above each setback to become a leader on the Gopher women’s track and field team.
Be sure to check out the entire piece, as well as other great articles about outstanding Gopher student-athletes and teams, in the April 2014 issue of Ski-U-Mah, which be available in print at Gopher Athletics venues and online at GopherSports.com later this week.
The Drake Relays are the dates to circle on the calendar for track and field athletes in the Upper Midwest.
For Erin Hawkins, a redshirt freshman sprinter on the Gopher women’s track team, the memories from that particular meet in 2012 are a mixed bag, at best. Hawkins, then a senior star for Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, was set to run four events on a chilly day in May, and she was staying loose before the first—a heat of the 100-meter dash.
“I was ready to run, in my sweatpants behind the blocks, and I was jumping up and down just to keep warm,” she said. “And I then I just felt a pop in my knee. My knee just popped and I don’t have any clue why.”
Whether you’re a pitcher in baseball or a sprinter in track, you never want to be saying, “I just felt a pop.”
She ran her heat and limped a bit afterward, but competed in the rest of her events. The next day her left knee was swollen and stiff, and the athletic trainers offered a sobering guess—a torn ACL—but told her it wouldn’t get any worse by running that day. So she and her teammates got ready for the finale—the 4x100-meter relay.
Said Hawkins: “I ran it and we set [an Iowa state] record and it was awesome!”
The news from her doctor wasn’t nearly as awesome. Hawkins had indeed torn her anterior cruciate ligament and ruptured a meniscus, as well. She underwent reconstructive surgery the following month.
“I didn’t want to crutch across the stage [for graduation], so I waited,” she joked.
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