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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Take two

Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Julie Stupps, former UofA swim team member, is seen training at the running field. She is doing warm up exercises in preparation for a 40 minute run that is immediately to follow.

To compete in one sport in college requires an exceptional amount of time, dedication and effort. In order to compete with some of the best athletes in the country and keep up, athletes need to sacrifice quite a bit.

But don’t tell that to former UA swimming All-American Julie Stupp.

As a swimmer who has aspirations to compete in her second Olympic swimming trials in 2012, Stupp has decided to take on a second challenge: track and field.

“”Being an All-American swimmer and having that type of success, you’re always wondering what you can do in another arena,”” said UA track and field head coach Fred Harvey. “”You don’t really know what’s still there with the ability to compete at this level.

“”I think the biggest thing, though, is that I respect her willingness to try this and her respect for what it is that we do out there on the track.””

Taking advantage of a lesser-known NCAA rule, Stupp is using a fifth year of eligibility for track and field, a sport she once competed in during her Missouri high school days.

The NCAA rules, which former UA basketball player Fendi Onobun used to play football at the University of Houston, state that after athletes use four years of eligibility in a main sport, they are then allowed a fifth year of eligibility in a second. Stupp had to petition the NCAA to gain her fifth year.

“”I was a little worried because if you look at my timeline, it does look like I’m out of time since I took a year off (of swimming),”” Stupp said. “”(The NCAA is) usually so strict, but I just filled out some paperwork and sent in a ‘why I wanted to do this,’ and they responded pretty quickly.””

Swimming at the University of Auburn for three years, Stupp transferred to Arizona for more stability. In her three years as a swimmer at Auburn, she had three different coaches.

“”After my junior year, I was frustrated with how I was swimming,”” Stupp said. “”So I took a year off to train for the ‘08 trials. I wanted to go to a stable program to train for the 2012s (trials). I wanted a stable group of coaches who wouldn’t leave.””

A swimming program can’t get much more stable than Arizona under head coach Frank Busch, who has coached 28 Olympians in Tucson in the past 21 years.

When originally looking for colleges out of high school at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in Missouri, Stupp actually had Arizona on her radar.

But she wasn’t on the Wildcats’. In fact, she said she still gives the coaches a hard time about that.

“”It’s all worked out for the best though … and it worked out how it did for a reason,”” Stupp said.

Now the multi-sport athlete is making the transition to track and field for the first time since her senior year of high school.

“”My senior year I was second in the 800-meter (state meet) by like a tenth (of a second). The only reason the other girl beat me was she leaned across the line. Ever since then I was mad,”” Stupp said, laughing. “”I’m just slightly competitive so I’ve always wanted to run again and see where I could go.””

That drive is what UA senior swim captain Annie Chandler witnessed training with Stupp over the past year. Chandler said she isn’t surprised that Stupp is trying something new.

“”She’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met,”” Chandler said. “”This was a new discovery for us that she could do another sport, and it’s just appropriate that she would be the one.””

The energy that Stupp brings to the table is tremendous, which led Chandler to refer to her training partner as “”The Energizer Bunny.””

“”I’ve always told her I think she’ll be the most embarrassing mom because she has to get her energy up some way,”” Chandler said. “”But she was a great teammate for that reason.””

Busch also pointed out how Stupp was a great teammate, citing her positive attitude.

“”She’s just a real positive person,”” he said. “”You hear that thrown around, but she’s just really positive about working hard, challenging herself and her teammates and being part of the team. She certainly wasn’t the most talented athlete I’ve had but, being a several time All-American, I think that makes a strong statement as to her work ethic.””

Stupp is now bringing her positivity to the track, looking to compete in either the 800-meter race or the mile, which would fit the endurance she had in the pool. Stupp has been training her body to get used to the stress of running on the track as opposed to swimming in the pool.

“”Coach Harvey has been giving me tips, and I’ve been doing work on my own getting used to running,”” Stupp said. “”I’ve done a lot of ice baths and hot tubs lately. I’ve been living in there.””

While Stupp may not get her “”revenge”” on the runner who beat her in the high school state meet, her fuel for competition remains. And just like The Energizer Bunny, Stupp keeps going and going and going.

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