Freshman Erin Andrewlevich named CAC Rookie of the Year for track
BY GINNY BIXBY
At the Capital Athletic Conference Track & Field Championships in February, University of Mary Washington track freshman Erin Andrewlevich was thrown in at the last minute to anchor the women’s 4×400-meter relay.
“I didn’t know I’d be running it. I was so tired. I’d just run another race five minutes before,” she said. But running the last leg, the freshman clinched the title for the four women relay team.
She was recently named CAC Women’s Track & Field Rookie of the Year. “I found out about winning Rookie of the Year while I was standing with my best friend at lunch waiting in line for a sandwich,” Andrewlevich said. “I got a text from my dad telling me that I’d won the award. I was really surprised because I didn’t realize I was even eligible for this award. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
On a recent Wednesday, the team flocked together on the blue track, lunging and stretching before practice. While all members labored through the same warm-up routine, each went at their own pace. In the middle, Andewlevich stood in a hot pink Under Armour sweatshirt, her long blond ponytail fluttering. It was clear that her teammates looked up to her for her skill. But the 19-year-old sprinter is largely unassuming. The team broke up into groups. Andrewlevich was paired up with a male sprinter and the two ran 200 and 400-meter intervals. After each sprint, she would stand there hands propped on her hips, breathing heavily for a seven minute break. Then all of a sudden, she was running again, as if no time had passed between intervals. Andrewlevich maintains a very distinct posture while running. “I call her the boxer because of the way she punches her arms when she runs,” said Kathy Binder, UMW’s sprinting coach. “I tease her about it a lot.”
“Practice can get frustrating. It’s painful. But I have to do it in order for me to get better,” Andrewlevich said.
Andrewlevich, a Bristow, Virginia native, started running in 7th grade. She played soccer when she was in elementary school and was very fast, so her father, a former runner himself, encouraged her to try out for the track team. She continued running at Patriot High School and found her passion for the sport there. “My coaches were really great and I made lifelong friends on that team because I spent so much time with people with a common interest,” Andrewlevich said. “Qualifying for the state championships in the 4×100-meter relay as a freshman was a big accomplishment.”
By senior year, she got second at the state championships in what continues her best individual event, the 400-meter dash. “Years of different and continuous training helped me improve throughout my high school years and helped me reach that goal,” she said. Andrewlevich chose her college based on academics and student life rather than the track program. She was not even sure she would run in college, but decided to contact the UMW track coaching staff. “I’m glad I did because I love being on the team,” she said. “But my academics are most important. That’s why I’m at school and have the opportunity to run track.”
Andrewlevich has a vast array of interests outside of track. While undecided as to her major, she calls herself “a United States history nerd,” is obsessed with the Broadway musical Hamilton and admits to having a crush on Lin-Manuel Miranda. She is also well-versed in American Sign Language, and is a member of UMW’s dance group, the Performing Arts Club. “Tap is my favorite style,” she said. “I don’t want to choose between dance or any of my other interests and track,” Andrewlevich said. “I have different reasons for loving each. I have to find a balance because I could never choose between it all. It’s simply not an option for me. Track helps me manage my time because my schedule is so regimented.”
“I think Erin has the potential to be an All-American in the 200-meter dash or 400-meter dash or both. She has shown potential to be a national champion,” said track and field head coach Kunle Lawson.
Andrewlevich maintains that regardless of any higher glory she may achieve, her main goal in track is to simply bring her time down in the 400-meter dash.
“I can always get faster and it’s easy to set objective goals. I don’t want to be someone who peaked in high school,” she said. “Running is not simple. People think it’s simple because it’s just running but it involves so much technique and training. I have to think about so many things when I’m running. It’s very complicated.”
“Erin is a great person and an exceptional athlete,” said freshman teammate Yamina James. “She always works hard and makes any situation better. She is always very optimistic and definitely challenges me as an athlete.”
“Everyone on the team is really supportive of each other and everybody cares about each other,” Andrewlevich said.”I have a love/hate relationship with track. It’s painful. But there’s this constant drive to improve.”
But far from dreaming of national athletic success, Andrewlevich’s mind is in another, more relatable place.
“I need to figure out my major,” she laughed. “I like learning but I need to figure out where to focus my attention beyond listening to Hamilton on a continuous loop.” And with that, she put her earbuds in, listening to the soundtrack again.