Tyson Vander Linden didn’t choose to run the 400-meter hurdles. But his competitive nature kicked in after his coaches put him in the event.
“I don’t like to lose so since they kept putting me in the hurdles I pushed to be the best,” Vander Linden said. “My desire and determination and competitive nature pushes me.”
That competitive drive captured Vander Linden the 2018 Iowa Class 1A state championship in the 400 hurdles for the Lynnville-Sully senior. Over the past couple of years, Vander Linden’s drive — finishing second in the state hurdles as a sophomore — caught the attention of college track coaches.
On Friday, Vander Linden signed a national letter of intent to compete in track for Iowa State University in Ames. He said he talked with a lot of different colleges and coaches. Vander Linden took a visit to the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., in the fall.
“Missouri sent me a letter early in the recruiting process, and I decided to take that visit. I was always looking at Iowa State, even though I’ve always been an Iowa fan,” Vander Linden said.
“The Iowa State visit was awesome. I liked the coach a lot and the people there. I’m really excited for this opportunity and to see what I can do at the next level.”
Vander Linden has qualified for state in the 400 hurdles three straight years, taking 11th as a freshman, finishing second as a sophomore in 54.31 seconds then winning the gold medal as a junior in a personal-best and Lynnville-Sully school record time of 53.07 seconds.
In 2018, Vander Linden qualified for state in four events — one individual and three relays — for the Hawks. He anchored the Hawk 800 sprint medley relay to a 1A state championship and school record time of 1 minute, 33.83 seconds. The same foursome had taking third at the state meet in 2017.
Vander Linden was on the Lynnville-Sully shuttle hurdle relay which posted the fastest qualifying time of 58.50 seconds in the preliminaries at the 2018 meet. The Hawks took second in the finals in 59.09. He was on the 4x400 relay which did not advance to the finals at the 1A state meet.
Also his junior year, Vander Linden qualified for the Drake Relays in the 400 hurdles for the first time.
As the lone 1A athlete in the high school field, Vander Linden had the third-fastest time going into the race. He took the third-place medal in 53.79 seconds.
Vander Linden said for his individual events on the track he strives to reach personal-record times each time out which is hard so “it keeps me working hard.” He said competing on relays, he really likes helping his teammates set top times and qualify for the state track meet.
“Getting second as a sophomore gave me a reason to believe I could win a state championship. I chased that. Drake Relays I got third so I have more drive to win that this year hopefully, and to repeat in the 400 hurdles at state,” Vander Linden said.
“Winning a relay state title was fun too. Being a part of that was great with Sage (Zylstra), Corey (McCoy) and Nate (Stock).”
As a freshman, Vander Linden ran on the Hawk 4x800 relay which qualified for state. He captured a fifth-place medal in the 400 as a sophomore along with second in the 400 hurdles, third in the sprint medley relay and was on the seventh-place 4x400 relay team.
Vander Linden said as a college athlete he knows he has to trust the process, deal with the college training plans and lifting plans.
He said Iowa State coaches have talked about him competing in the 4x400 relay and 400 hurdles.
“They told me a 400 hurdler usually can do almost anything. I don’t know what I might specialize in there. I’m just looking to see what I can do and be the best I can be at whatever event they use me in,” Vander Linden said.
Before he heads to Ames, Vander Linden has business to take care of for his senior season.
When Vander Linden won his 1A state championship in May, he said:
“I didn’t know how to celebrate. I was so excited,” he laughed. “It came true. I’ve been chasing this since I finished second here last year when I had a sour taste in my mouth. Wow, I got it done today. I’ve been working hard since the day after last year’s state meet. I run some kind of hurdles every day.”
He said he continues with a regime to be ready for the spring. Vander Linden said every day he is doing something such as lifting and trail leg stuff over couch arms if he can’t get outside for whatever reason. He’ll go to the track for block starts.
Vander Linden is a multi-sport athlete at Lynnville-Sully. He has been on the Hawk football team which has made the Class A playoffs and on the Hawk basketball team which qualified for the Class 1A state tournament the past two years.
Vander Linden was a 2018 Class A football first-team All-State selection as a returner, leading his team in all-purpose yardage.
Vander Linden said he will pursue a degree in kinesiology at Iowa State. He is the son of Amber and Jason Vander Linden of Lynnville.