Debie Gedeon had no idea a few slices of pizza would lead her on a path of rewriting the Rose-Hulman track and field record book.

Gedeon traveled to Terre Haute to enroll at Rose-Hulman after winning the 2015 girls basketball state championship with Columbus North. Her original plan was to only play basketball for the Fightin’ Engineers, but her mind started to change her freshman year when she ran into track coach Larry Cole on her way from finishing a workout.

Cole offered Gedeon some pizza from a banquet and sprung up some conversation, sparking what eventually became a runner-coach relationship.

“I’m a big food person, so automatically, he kind of got my interest,” Gedeon said jokingly. “From there, we really kind of hit it off. He would talk to me, and he wouldn’t really bring up track. He just wanted to get to know me as a person.”

Cole, who didn’t even know Gedeon was joining the student body until he read it in The Republic, did not pressure Gedeon to join the team, but said he was glad when she decided to join last spring. It took her three years worth of track meets to break North’s 100-meter hurdles record, but she managed to set a Rose-Hulman outdoor record in her first collegiate hurdle race.

Gedeon’s 14.46-second clocking remained one of Division III’s 10 fastest times for much of the outdoor season. She qualified for the Division III nationals but did not run her best, placing 22nd overall.

“That’s a great experience for a freshman, but it’s also very intimidating,” Cole said. “She didn’t run what she was capable of, but a lot of freshmen at the NCAA Championships don’t. I don’t care if you’re running at IU or Rose-Hulman, it’s a tough situation.”

Gedeon ended the season third on Rose-Hulman’s all-time list in the indoor 60 meters, 60-meter hurdles and the outdoor 4×100 relay.

Gedeon never thought she would have such a close charisma with a team like she had with her basketball teammates at North and was surprised to find that same connection with her Rose-Hulman track team. That weighed heavily in her decision to give up the sport she has been playing for more than half her life.

After just one season, Gedeon hung up her basketball shoes.

“It was a pretty emotional decision,” Gedeon said. “But looking back at it, I think it was one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.”

Around this time of year, Gedeon usually is just starting to get into track mode because basketball always was a priority over winter training and indoor track competitions. This year, she was able to compete indoors and train during the winter for the first time since she started running her sophomore year of high school.

Gedeon also has picked up a new event, the javelin, and Cole said he believes she could have some success in that down the road.

In the hurdles, Gedeon worked hard on trying to perfect her start time in hopes of gaining an early lead on her opponents. She is striving to be the best in Division III someday and would like to make the podium at this year’s nationals.

Cole was pleased with Gedeon’s indoor season. She finished as Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference runner-up in the 100 hurdles.

Gedeon has some top-notch competition within the HCAC. Senior Jordin Fender of Transylvania (Kentucky) finished second in the 60 hurdles at this year’s D-lll indoor national meet and competes against Gedeon several times a year.

“She is kind of a rival with Debie right now,” Cole said. “Other than that young lady, Debie is as good as there is in the D-lll Great Lakes Region … about 42 schools altogether.”

New face on the track

Name: Debie Gedeon

High school: Columbus North

College: Rose-Hulman

Year: Sophomore

Events: Indoor 60 meters, 60 hurdles; Outdoor 100 hurdles, 4×100 relay, javelin.

Record Holder: Outdoor 100 hurdles (14.46 seconds)

Author photo
Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.