NWHSU student qualifies for Olympic Trials

Rob Karwath for NWHSU | January 03, 2019

NWHSU chiropractic student Andrea Toppin qualifies for Olympic Trials.

NWHSU chiro student Andrea Toppin

NWHSU chiropractic student Andrea Toppin has her eye on the Olympics! Photo via Jason Suarez.

As if life as a full-time graduate student wasn’t enough, Andrea Toppin has taken on another big challenge.

The chiropractic student at Northwestern Health Sciences University has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta in February 2020, leading up to the Summer Olympics later that year in Tokyo.

Toppin qualified in December at the California International Marathon in Sacramento, even as her life was entering a particularly busy period as a NWHSU student.

“It was right before finals,” she says. “It was a little stressful.”

NWHSU Chiropractic Student Toppin qualifies for Olympics.

But she couldn’t have been happier with her personal record time of 2:42.12, which qualified her under the Olympic Trials B standard of 2:45. She said she still may run another marathon to try to qualify under the A standard of 2:37.

Toppin, a track and cross-country athlete at Iowa State University, where she graduated with a degree in kinesiology, was inspired by watching runners compete in torrential rain at the 2018 Boston Marathon.

“The conditions were horrendous, and a lot of the elite professionals were dropping out,” she says. “What inspired me was the woman who got second. She is a full-time nurse living her everyday life. I know that the life of a full-time nurse is busier than my life. I saw what she did and said, ‘I think I can do that.’ That really inspired me.”

She added: “From then on, I started my training. I had an immense attitude change. It was amazing. I hit all my splits in my workouts. I just really wanted it. I thought it would be really cool and inspiring to be an Olympic Trials qualifier—something I could do for graduate students all over.”

Toppin credits Dr. Timothy Stark, a sports chiropractor and Director of NWHSU’s Human Performance Center, for encouraging her to compete. It was Stark who also encouraged her to pursue her graduate education and seek to become a chiropractor by attending NWHSU.

“I want to become a sports chiropractor,” Toppin says. “When I sat down with him, he told me what a doctor of chiropractic can do. We have large scope in which we can practice. Now, in my second year in chiropractic school, we are adjusting the full body, which is awesome. Once we started adjusting and I started seeing what a chiropractor can do for the body, you can basically change the way muscle functions. That allows the person to perform at a higher level in their everyday life.”

Stark, who has experience working with Olympic athletes, says: “Andrea is an inspiration to all of her fellow students and to the chiropractic profession. She is applying the lessons she is learning not only to academics and her professional pursuits but also to her work as a world-class athlete. We are proud of her and look forward to watching her perform at the Olympic Trials.”

Toppin has been working at Lyn Lake Chiropractic as part of her academic experience. It’s also where she has received treatment during her training.

“They have been amazing for me,” she says. “I have been the healthiest I’ve ever been. I think that is why I am able to take on school plus 60 to 80 miles a week of training and strength work and still stay sane.”

Among many others who have helped her, Toppin credits her younger brother, Joel. He also is a chiropractic student at NWHSU. He encouraged her to pursue chiropractic as a career, to attend NWHSU and to train for the Olympic Trials.

“He is a big part of my success in life and always has been,” she says. “I had to do my long runs, and sometimes I was not motivated or was super-stressed. He talked me through each part of it, and it flew by.”

Watch more on the story from KIMT3 here.