CONCORDIA, Kansas — On Monday, just a few days after her sophomore year at Cloud County Community College officially ended, Nikki Kraaijeveld was able to end a trying 2018-19 on a high note as she signed her National Letter of Intent to compete for Washburn University next season.
Being able to sign with a strong NCAA Division II program was the happy ending Kraaijeveld fought long and hard for after having to miss her entire sophomore season due to a nagging shin injury.
"It was very hard on her this year not to be able to participate because she really loved Cloud County. But to have her stay in the state and be able to see her compete for Washburn will be exciting," said Cloud County head women's coach, Ted Schmitz. "She brought so much to the table and was a very valuable member of the team. Those are big reasons why she got signed by Washburn. They saw her do some really good things as a freshman and they were attracted to how versatile she is."
Kraaijeveld had a breakout freshman season for the T-Birds in 2017-18. She helped the 4X400-meter relay team to a pair of top-10 finishes at the national level in the indoor and outdoor seasons, qualified for nationals in the 400-meter hurdles, and finished as the national outdoor runner-up in the women's heptathlon.
She also added a fifth-place finish at the 2018 NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in the heptathlon.
Whether the Ichabods use her as a hurdler, jumper, relay racer or in the multi events, Schmitz said he believes Kraaijeveld will be an impact athlete for Washburn during her three years there just like she was during her time in Concordia.
"I would guess her main event will be the 400-meter hurdles and I think she can be a national placer for them if Washburn coaches decide to go that route," Schmitz said. "The heptathlon is an event that takes a while to climb to the top at the NCAA level. But in three years, if that's the route they go, she will probably be another person who will be on podium for them in the multi events."