With mental toughness, Iowa’s Payton Wensel has an All-American breakout

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Payton Wensel was a champion racer at Linn-Mar, but the adjustment to Division I track and field was difficult.

“The past couple years I felt I was in this pit mentally. I didn’t see the end in sight,” Wensel said. “So this year seeing the end in sight I’m like ‘oh my goodness, I need to put as much time and energy into this as I can because I don’t have that much time left.’ I started looking at things in a more positive way.”

Through hard work and mental toughness Wensel’s talent is breaking through barriers. In her senior year, she earned first team All-American honors indoors in the 4x400 relay.

“I was always trying to be better, try and improve anywhere that I can,” Wensel said. “Everything is finally clicking this year and it’s awesome.”

Wensel, who has had some monster kicks this season, is also having a breakthrough season the 400 hurdles.

“I was struggling the first two years trying to figure out the race again, COVID-19 hitting and missing on that year,” she said. “I’m so grateful and so blessed to be putting up those times now.”

The Iowa women’s 400 hurdles team ranks number one in the nation this season.

“We all are pushing each other to get better,” Wensel said. “You see your teammate drop a crazy time and that just wanna make me go out there and drop a crazy time.”

They call this ‘championship season’ in track and field, and Payton has set some big goals.

“I really wanna go back to nationals in the 4x400.”

Her coach said seeing her race is a joy.

“She has been dialed in and focused this year,” said head track and field coach Joey Woody. “What makes it fun for me as a coach (is) to see her light up and see these performances I don’t think she thought she could do.”

Wensel, who won the 200 meter title last week at the Musco Twilight, is really excited to run in front of the home crowd at Drake this week.

“Drake is a special place,” she said. “Oh my goodness I’m so excited after not getting to run their sophomore year and junior year i’m so ready to be back on the blue oval.

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