Aliyah Gustafson overcomes injury to qualify for NCAA Track & Field Championship

Shot putter recovers from horrific knee injury to set BGSU record

By Bob Cunningham 

It takes a lot of strength to throw a shot put. It weighs 4 kilograms, or just more than 8.8 pounds.

And it takes even more determination to recover from a horrific knee injury that robbed Aliyah Gustafson of her 2015 track and field season at Bowling Green State University.

Not only did Gustafson overcome her a torn ACL and menisci in her left knee, but the redshirt sophomore from Iowa City, Iowa, was a MAC Champion this season. She broke the BGSU shot put record May 28 at the NCAA Div. I East Regional Track and Field Championship in Jacksonville, Fla. 

By throwing the shot put 16.17 meters, Gustafson broke a BGSU record that was set in 2005 by Kerri McClung. It also helped her qualify for the NCAA Div. I National Track and Field Championship in Eugene, Ore., starting at 9:30 p.m. EST Thursday (June 9).  

Gustafson said her accomplishments this year proves that hard work can go a long way in achieving your goals in life. 

“I’ve been working toward throwing over 16 meters for a while now and to finally do it and also get the school record meant a lot to me, especially coming off an injury,” she said. “To accomplish something like that means the world and it was probably one of my top five best moments ever in my life.”

Gustafson, an exercise science major, spent many an hour on the road to recovery.

“With my injury, I spent every day in the training room, sometimes twice a day, trying to get back to this point,” she said. “I’ve exceeded my own expectations this season. It’s a good feeling for sure.” 

Gustafson, who also played volleyball and basketball in high school, said she made it to the Iowa state track and field championship as prep shot putter, but it can hardly compare to what she’ll face this week in Oregon. Her mind-set going into the national championship is to “keep it low pressure” and try to stay “cool, calm and collected.” 

“That’s what I did going into regionals and it worked out great for me, so I am going to try to do the same,” she said. 

The support she has received on campus and from all around the University hasn’t gone unnoticed by the record-setting athlete. 

“I like BGSU,” Gustafson said. “The size is great. It’s big but it’s small enough for people to recognize what you’re doing. I’ve felt like I’ve had a lot of support from not only my team but other teams, too.”