Highly Decorated Windle Not Satisfied, Working For More

Drew Windle
Drew Windle

Drew Windle very easily could rest on his laurels.

The word "rest," however, doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary.

The Ashland University senior has made plenty of national, conference and school history so far – and he is looking for more. Windle is a two-time United States Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association men's indoor track and field athlete of the year, has the fastest indoor 800-meter run in Division II history (1:46.52), has won four 800-meter national championships (two indoors and two outdoors) and six national titles overall, has two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference indoor (800 run and distance medley relay) and outdoor (800 run and 4x400 relay) meet records and eight GLIAC championships (four indoors and four outdoors).

Rest? Only when it is necessitated due to injury.

"After cross (country) season, I was actually a little banged up with patellar tendonitis," Windle said, "raced 10K on a really sloppy course in Louisville (Ky.), and just kind of sliding around for 10,000 meters kind of caused that."

After a few weeks to rehab and recover, Windle has been back on the march toward more gold. His top 800 run time of the season (1:48.41 on Jan. 30 at Penn State) is the best in Division II to date, and going into this weekend's GLIAC Championships (Feb. 28 and March 1 in Saginaw, Mich.), he has three provisional national-qualifying marks in the 400-meter dash and as part of the 4x4 and DMR.

At the Millrose Games in New York during Valentine's Day weekend, Windle finished third in the 1,000-meter run in 2:22.91, less than two seconds behind first place.

"Leading up to the Millrose Games, you've got Flotrack and LetsRun coming out with articles about the race, the 1K in particular, and my name wasn't really said, other than the fact that I was in the field," said Windle. "To me, I saw that as a good thing. It really allowed me to just relax and go race my style of racing. Getting third kind of shocked some people, so that was really cool.

"So far, it (this indoor season) has gone pretty well. I know I'm really fit. Just waiting on workouts to show themselves on the track on race day."

In addition to his collegiate exploits, Windle took part in the United States Outdoor Track and Field Championships last summer in Sacramento, Calif., finishing 14th in the 800 run semifinals in 1:50.63.

"The thing that kept me in Ashland, when I graduated from high school, I had a huge PR in the 800, and had the potential to back out of coming to Ashland and go to a D-I school," Windle said, "but I sat down with (AU assistant track/head cross country coach) Trent Mack and he said how it doesn't matter if you are in Ashland, Ohio, or Eugene, Oregon, or somewhere in Europe, every single track that you race on is going to be 400 meters long, and you're going to have to run around it twice.

"It doesn't matter where you are, it's all based on time. If you're willing to put in the work, you're going to get the results you want to."

Said Ashland head track and field coach Jud Logan, "Trent signed Drew early, then Drew wins a state title (and) maybe would have gone someplace bigger, but in the first four weeks of Drew being here, he had totally bought into the Trent Mack program, which is so crucial. The results for coach Mack speak for themselves."

Windle is a key member of an Ashland indoor track and field program which boasts both the men's and women's teams being ranked No. 1 in Division II at the same time for the first time.

"It's very individualized, but the team aspect, and with us always being a top-five contender…it raises your training to a whole new level," he said. "It's cool to maintain that team aspect here."

Windle has the GLIAC and Division II national meets remaining indoors, as well as an entire outdoor season, to finish off his stellar collegiate career. And he has plenty of goals in front of him.

"Indoors, from here on, it's about racing well at the championships," he said. "Our goal is to defend in the eight, and, hopefully, we get the DMR in and defend in that. Then, get a high placing in the 4x4. Outdoors, we're really going to focus on running fast, and running fast at the right time. We're going to get into a fast 800 somewhere. And obviously, (try to) win the NCAA championship again. We're going to have a really good 4x4 outdoors."

There is a word that is used by both Windle and his coaches – "cocky." But it is used in flattering and positive ways.

"I've said that for years about him," Logan said. "That's subsided just a bit, but not enough that he doesn't have that edge. Another coach might say we don't like cocky kids. I say give me five more Drew Windles and watch us go. He has just enough believe in himself."

Said Windle, "It's more of a mindset and an attitude. I came in with a mentality that some can see as controversial, and Jud likes to use the word 'cocky,' but they realize that that's a kind of necessary mentality for this sport, and they've just reinforced it and they've taken it so it's a little less reckless and a little more practical. It's a great environment, and I just hang out every day with two guys that have competed at the highest level."

Logan also says Windle typifies the statement the coach put up for his athletes leading up to the GLIAC meet – "It is meet week. Please act accordingly. And by accordingly, I mean reckless, passionate and with abundant vigor."

"We couldn't be any prouder of him as a team leader," Logan said, "and as someone in our program, similar to a Bryan Vickers, a Jackie Jeschelnig, an Adriane Blewitt, who is irreplaceable. You don't see many come through the doors like Drew Windle."

Following the school year, Windle will turn his attention to making a run at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"Two years ago, I was the first guy to not make the USA championship meet," he said. "I was the first guy out. My goal last year was to make the meet and then try to get out of prelims, and I did that. I got a lot of good experience there. This year, it will be make the final, and if I make the final and finish in the top three, there's a good chance that I will be making the World Championship (Aug. 22-30, 2015, in Beijing, China) team."

Logan said, "He is no different than someone who is graduating with a degree in technology, and wants to be hired by Apple. He wants to graduate with a pedigree that makes every agent and shoe company covet him, so he can continue to do what he wants to do at the highest level.

"It's really just a matter of biding your time. He's a year out from the Olympic trials. (If) Drew catches lightning in a bottle, I wouldn't bet against him in the Olympic Trials final."

Eventually, there will be time for Windle to rest. That will be when he takes time to reflect on all he has accomplished in his career.

"Track is one of those sports where, even if you have one of the best days of your life and you PR by a couple seconds, you immediately start looking at the race and you're like, 'How can I get more?' You always try to move forward all the time," Windle said. "I'm always trying to raise the bar."