AMES - Olympian and former NCAA champion Lisa (Koll) Uhl is coming home.
The Fort Dodge native and 2005 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate will train under Iowa State head coach Corey Ihmels. Uhl, 25, will also work as a volunteer assistant coach on the ISU coaching staff.
"We're excited that Lisa is going to be back in Ames," Ihmels said. "Her input will have a profound impact on our runners."
Photo by David Purdy, for The Messenger
Fort Dodge native Lisa (Koll)?Uhl laughs in response to a question in Des Moines during the Iowa Olympic celebration.
Uhl finished 13th in the 10,000-meter run at the London Olympic Games with a personal best time of 31:12.80.
At ISU under her maiden name of Lisa Koll, she was an 11-time All-American with four NCAA titles.
Uhl is leaving the Oregon Track Club Elite program in Portland under coach Jerry Schumacher.
"I think a lot of people make changes after an Olympic year, and I think it's a good time to risk if you think you need to change something," Uhl told Race Results Weekly in a published story this week. "I think I've felt like I've needed to make a change for a little bit now, but I wanted to makes sure I gave Jerry and Shalane (Flanagan) and the rest of the group a significant amount of time to make sure that it just wasn't me being homesick, and to make sure it's the right change and the right move because it's a big change and a big decision."
Uhl won the NCAA titles at both 5000m and 10,000m in 2010 and joined Schumacher's group in Portland to train with Flanagan shortly thereafter. Uhl, who married Iowa State teammate Kiel Uhl one year ago, said she enjoyed training with Flanagan and that Schumacher taught her how to work even harder.
"Jerry, Shalane and the group have been nothing but supportive and great to me in my time in Portland," Uhl explained. "I'm very thankful for the time that I've had there."
Uhl said she was struggling with an issue which is familiar to many Americans: trying to find the right balance between work and life.
"I feel like I gave up being close to my family and a lot of other things," she said. "I think taking balance out of my life has been difficult for me. I think I need to get back to a situation where I have more balance in my life outside of running and I think that will help me perform better athletically.
"I just really struggled trying to find happiness both personally and athletically out here."
Uhl said that she and her husband have put their condominium on the market, and this Sunday, they will begin the 28-hour drive to Ames. She said she plans to fly back to Portland later to fully empty their home after it is sold, but for now feels she needs to get to Iowa as soon as possible to start working with Ihmels because the NCAA cross country season is already in full swing.
"I'm really looking forward to ... being involved in something that isn't purely focused on my own running, and kind of giving back to the university which gave me so much and so many opportunities," she said.
Looking ahead, Uhl said she planned to do at least one road race in the fall, and was particularly excited that the USA Outdoor Championships would be in Des Moines next year.
-From the ISU Media Relations Department