Iowa State alum and NCAA record-holder takes first step toward turning pro; will run 10K at U.S. Championships later this week.
Written by: David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, used with permission. All rights reserved.
Fresh off of her victories at the NCAA Championships at both 5000 and 10,000 meters, Iowa State’s Lisa Koll has made her first move towards turning pro, signing a management contract with Peter Stubbs Management (PSM) of San Francisco, Calif. The 22 year-old Iowa native from Fort Dodge told Race Results Weekly last Friday in a telephone interview that she felt very comfortable with her decision and was looking forward to racing the 10,000 at this week’s USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines.
“He came really prepared,” Koll said via cell phone of PSM associate Dan Lilot who flew to Ames to meet with her. “I was extremely naive to the situation, and he came with all kinds of examples of paperwork. We kind of sat down and he told me how the process would go. He really impressed me with his whole presentation and the comfort level I had with him. He really impressed me.”
Koll came to Iowa State a diamond in the rough. She had only finished eighth at her state high school cross country meet in 2004, and redshirted her 2005 indoor and 2006 outdoor track seasons. Under coach Corey Ihmels, Koll made steady improvements through hard work and a disciplined approach. From 2007 to 2010 she dropped her 5000-meter personal best by about a minute to 15:17.76 and her 10,000-meter best by some four minutes to 31:18.07, the fastest ever by a collegian in the NCAA system.
“I think anytime you have someone who does what Lisa has done this last year, especially with her humble beginnings, people kind of think all of a sudden she got really good,” explained Coach Ihmels in a telephone interview. “She’s worked really hard over these years. It just didn’t happen. She had to make it happen.”
Koll became visible on a national level in 2008 as a sophomore when she clocked 32:11.13 at the Stanford Invitational, setting a then American collegiate best for the distance. She went on to win the NCAA 10,000 title that year and placed eighth in the USA Olympic Trials at the same distance. In 2009 she won the Big 12 5000 and 10,000-meter titles, despite suffering from a back injury which forced her to miss several weeks of training in the spring. She rebounded to enjoy a truly memorable senior year, winning three out of the five NCAA distance titles available (she won the 5000 titles both indoors and outdoors and the 10,000 outdoors while taking second at 3000 meters indoors and finishing 12th in cross country last November).
“She’s had her ups and downs, but probably more ups than downs,” Coach Ihmels explained. “She’s just one of those Midwest kids who came in and wanted to get better. She’s very smart, rolled with the punches and came out the other end a better person. She’s been very easy to coach. Great athletes make good coaches.”
Great athletes also make great management clients, and Peter Stubbs and his team were predictably happy to have landed Koll. “The PSM team is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with an athlete –and person– like Lisa,” Stubbs said in a prepared statement. “She excels at everything she does, and we look forward to helping her reach even greater levels of excellence.”
Stubbs said that Koll had not yet been signed to a shoe company, but that he would “aggressively market Lisa to potential sponsors” and was looking forward to “finalizing a partnership for her shortly.”
Koll said that she was ready for the move to the professional ranks, and that she planned to stay in Iowa for the immediate future under Coach Ihmels. “I’m really excited about it,” she said of her professional career. “I guess I don’t really look at it as being nervous. I’m just continuing what I love doing. I don’t want to look at it any different than I have over the last five years. Now I’ll have the time to work on it that I didn’t have before. I’m going to dedicate myself 100% to it.”
Koll has the second fastest qualifying mark for Thursday night’s national championship in the 10,000 behind only Olympian Amy Begley, and has a good chance of making the podium. Coach Ihmels said that he’ll be there to support her in Thursday’s race and beyond.
“Obviously, she’s embarking on a whole new realm of possibilities,” he concluded. “Obviously, I’m going to do everything I can to help her make that next jump, whatever that is. I’m probably never ever going to (be able to) repay her for what she’s done for our university and this program.”