CEDAR FALLS — Alanna Nietert’s career path as a thrower for Northern Iowa women’s track and field has been circuitous.
The third-year sophomore came to UNI after a stellar prep career at Linn-Mar that was capped by a second-place finish in the shot put at the 2015 state track meet.
Arriving on campus as a freshman, Nietert got the opportunity to broaden her skill set as a thrower, tackling the intricacies of the hammer and weight throws and quickly establishing herself as a contributor for the years that were ahead of her as a Panther.
However, the circuitous part of Nietert’s career began in the fall of 2017 when she suffered a severe back injury during training. After suffering the injury, UNI’s coaches and trainers did what they could to rehab and treat the injury, but her back didn’t want to heal and it cost her all but two meets of her 2017 season.
“It was painful,” Nietert said. “I tried to push through (it), but we realized we just needed to shut me down. I worked with the trainers so much. I got an injection. Finally, I was able to come back for the meet before conference outdoor and then I threw at conference outdoor with the hammer because shot (put) was bothering (my back).”
Nietert says she’ll always have the back injury, but strengthening her core along with establishing an enhanced rapport with throws coach Dan O’Mara has made it possible for her to stay healthy enough to contribute in 2018.
“If she shows in practice that she’s not doing well, I just shut her down and say we’ll wait till tomorrow,” O’Mara said. “It makes a big difference for her that I’m willing to play with her practice. Say, ‘OK, let’s push it back a day.’ It makes a big difference that we change things as we go throughout the season.”
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The culmination of endless rehab, preventative maintenance, and technique work with O’Mara resulted in a third-place finish and a personal record weight throw for Nietert on Saturday at the MVC Indoor Track & Field Championships at the UNI-Dome. She helped the Panthers collect 16 points they were not anticipating with her 18.68-meter throw.
“For this meet especially — actually the last two when I got my (personal records) — in practice I’ve been getting those marks, I see them, but I hadn’t in a meet,” Nietert said. “So, lately I’ve been telling myself, ‘I’m going to throw this.’ Today I wanted to get 18.60 (meters), which I got 18.68 and from Thursday on I was like, ‘I will throw 18.60.’ That’s helped me a lot. I’m not going to be like someone that’s injured, I’m tired of that. I’m coming back. I’m here.”
Nietert and the rest of her teammates will wrap up competition in the 2018 Missouri Valley Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday.