It’s been an ambiguous year for IU athletics.
The men’s soccer and men’s swimming teams have continued to solidify their reputations as two of the best programs in the country in their respective sports. However, the men’s basketball team is struggling to find their identity in an up-and-down season. Not to mention how the football team sorely disappointed and missed out on a bowl game appearance.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to many casual fans, it’s been a record-breaking year on the women’s side.
Athletes such as senior Tyra Buss and juniors Katherine Receveur and Lilly King have been dominant in their respective sports, making IU history along the way.
Yet their achievements have still gone either unnoticed or downplayed to an extent.
Buss has been the most recognized of the group after she recently broke the IU women’s basketball all-time scoring record in the Hoosiers’ Jan. 3 loss to Penn State. Her layup in the second half of that game broke the previous scoring record of 1,917 career points set by Denise Jackson back in the 1983-84 season.
As Buss continues to add to her scoring record, which has now eclipsed 2,000 points, she is closing in on the IU career steals and assists records and she has more than proved she is the best player the program's ever seen.
However, the most recognition she has received for her feats has consisted of being recognized before a women’s home game, at halftime of a men’s basketball game and a radio interview with Dan Dakich, which went out over the airwaves on an early afternoon of a weekday.
Then there’s Receveur, who dominated the Big Ten in women’s cross-country during the 2017 season. She managed to break the IU cross-country course women’s 6K record with a time of 20:14.08 at the Sam Bell Invitational on Sep. 30.
She was able to break her own record later in the season at the Big Ten Championships, where she came in first place with a time of 20:10.3 on her way to being IU’s first Big Ten Champion since Michelle Dekkers in 1990.
Along with winning the Big Ten Championships and being named Big Ten Athlete of the Year in women’s cross-country, she became the first IU women’s runner to win the Great Lakes Regional since Kim Betz in 1987 and became an All-American for the second year in a row after a 20th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
It all culminated in being recognized at halftime of a football game where the PA announcer mispronounced her name as "Katherine Reckoover."
Then of course there is King, a gold medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she broke an Olympic record in the 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:04.93.
She’s still dominating collegiate swimming for IU and recently broke multiple world records at the 2017 FINA World Championships.
While she continues to make a case for her being the best young swimmer in the United States, she also has a awesome rivalry with fellow phenom Yulia Efimova of Russia.
It’s like the Cold War minus the looming threat of nuclear fallout. Or maybe that’s still a thing. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is the fact that while King has become one of best young athletes in the country, I’ve seen such little news about her that if I passed her on the sidewalks of the Bloomington campus, I wouldn’t even recognize her.
Through my beat writing duties at the Indiana Daily Student this year, I’ve been lucky enough to be present for or at least watching live when many of these records have been broken.
I was present for all of Receveur’s accomplishments and was watching live via the internet when Buss broke the scoring record. As a former high school basketball player and cross-country runner myself, I can sincerely say I’ve never witnessed in person a more impressive pair of IU athletes than when I’ve watched those two perform.
It’s no secret female athletes as a whole have had to overcome numerous barriers through the years. Whether it’s issues dealing with inclusion, equal pay or media coverage, it’s been a difficult road to where women’s sports are at now.
But even record breakers are still relegated to halftime recognitions while everybody in the stands is in the restroom or at the concessions stands.
Along with all the regular obstacles faced by female athletes, this year’s IU record-breakers have overcome even more than many realize.
When Buss first came to IU after a highly successful high school career at Mt. Carmel, Illinois, many questioned if the 5-foot-8 guard was too small to excel at the college level.
Now she’s at the top of the program’s record books.
Meanwhile, Receveur had an even more setbacks on her journey to stardom. While in high school at Assumption High School in Louisville, Kentucky, she battled a multitude of injuries that ranged everywhere from a stress fracture in her leg to mononucleosis and a serious iron deficiency.
The injuries trickled over into her freshman season at Miami of Ohio and forced her to leave the team after just a semester. With her running career in jeopardy, she got one last chance at IU.
Now, the former Miami castoff is the most dominant runner in the Big Ten. Though Buss, Receveur and King have all been remarkable in their careers at IU, they still struggle to receive the attention they deserve. Why?
Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer.
I’m not going to sit here and say men’s basketball and football shouldn’t be as popular as they are. They are still the school’s highest revenue sports.
However, with long-time records constantly being shattered, IU’s top female athletes have earned the same fanfare.
It would be a shame to let such a historic year in IU women’s athletics be remembered by little more than halftime ceremonies that will be simply forgotten by fans in the restroom or a bunch of drunk tailgaters.
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