Drew Windle was an eight-time NCAA Division II indoor and outdoor track and field national champion and 15-time All-American at Ashland University. He finished third in the 800 meters in the USATF Outdoor Championships last summer and competed in the IAAF World Championships in August in London, although he did not make the final.
Even so, the 2011 New Albany High School graduate considers himself an underdog in the track world and hopes his second-place finish in the 800 in the IAAF World Indoor Championships on March 3 in Birmingham, England, will help him compete in even more prestigious meets as his career continues to blossom.
“There is a lot of politics in the sport to get into better meets. It doesn’t always depend on what you’ve done but who you know,” Windle said. “Sometimes meets take athletes with lesser credentials because their agent might be in good with a meet director. Having a silver medal, it’s kind of hard to argue not putting me into better meets.
“I always feel like an underdog. I was a Division II guy in college and I worked hard and got lucky enough to get a pro contract. Brooks (Beasts) was the only company that looked at me. We’re an underdog as a program; we only have one person on our team who was a national champion (Henry Wynn from Virginia, who was indoor champion in the 1,600 in 2016).”
Windle finished the 800 in 1 minute, 47.99 seconds, although he was disqualified almost immediately afterward for tugging on winner Adam Kszczot’s bib halfway through the race. USATF appealed and after an 87-minute review, Windle’s silver medal was reinstated.
Windle said the gap between Kszczot’s bib and jersey was just enough that one of his index fingers got caught during a turn.
“My right elbow had been pulled backward by a different athlete while I was trying to pass someone else,” Windle said. “Kszczot cut in, I put my hand out to brace myself for an impact to make sure I didn’t fall and then that happened.
“Tracks are so small and the 800 is pretty chaotic anyway (so) you know you’ll be bunched up and fighting for position.”
Windle, who was in last place beginning the final lap but improved to fourth place by the final straightaway, edged third-place Saul Ordonez by .02 of a second.
“When Drew joined the team, he was fresh out of college and had never made a world team. Today he is a world medalist. I am just so elated for Drew,” Brooks Beasts coach Danny Mackey said after the race. “This is a testament to him as a person and the organization of the Beasts. Drew capped off the World Championships with an amazing accomplishment.”
Windle has raced for Brooks Beasts, a Seattle-based running club, since 2015.
After a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Windle will head to Park City, Utah, on Wednesday, March 21, to begin a four-week altitude camp. His schedule for the outdoor season is uncertain, but he hopes to participate in the Pioneer Series, which has races across the world.
“It was just nice (last week) with lots of relaxing and eating junk food. I’ve had some Oreos and Taco Bell,” Windle said. “And it (was) nice to get some time in the warm sun before I get back to work.”