In just one weekend, Andrei Iosivas ’23 broke Princeton records in the Heptathlon and earned the highest mark in the nation for this season.
The Heptathlon, which consists of the 60 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 meter hurdles, pole vault and the 1000 meter run, tests the strength, mobility, speed, and endurance of each athlete.
“[Breaking records] has always been at the back of my head. I knew what I could do athletically — it was just about putting the pieces together. I don’t mentally … go into meets thinking ‘oh, I’m going to … make this mark’ or ‘I’m going to run this time.’ I go into it with the mindset that if my training is where it is, I should be able to perform well,” he told the Daily Princetonian. “And so I never really go into things overthinking; I just let them happen.”
Iosivas’ mindset has served him well in his track career.
At the Wesley A. Brown Invitational on Jan. 21—22, Iosivias earned 5715 points across all seven events, surpassing his personal records in five. Duane Hynes ’09 held the record for Heptathlon since 2007 with a score of 5640. Beyond the Orange Bubble, Iosivas has made his way to the top, surpassing the national record previously held by BYU’s Dallin Vorkink’s 5500. He now holds the top score for the Heptathlon in the nation for this season.
Unlike most track athletes who train year-round for their events, Iosivas spends half the year focusing on football. A key player for the Princeton football team as a wide receiver, Iosivas earned Second-Team All-Ivy this past season. He was third in the Ivy League in receiving yards.
Iosivas first stepped on the football field at the age of six and hasn’t stopped playing since. Despite not having as much film for the recruitment process as other players, he received an offer from Princeton after attending a football camp.
“I got an offer from Princeton because of camp,” he explained. “The [Princeton] coaches really liked me and gave me an offer, even though I didn’t have that much film … That was one of the reasons I committed — because we really bonded, and they’re like a family oriented team.”
Committing to Princeton for football opened the door to continue his track career. At the age of nine, Iosivas’ uncle — Tom Hintnaus, a former Olympian — introduced him to track. As a freshman at Punahou School in Honolulu, HI, he made the varsity team. But, according to Iosivas, he only started to perform at a national level in his senior year of high school. Still, his performance in his final year of high school was enough to catch Assistant Coach Robert Abdullah’s attention.
As a first year student at Princeton, Iosivas walked onto the track team after the football season came to a close. Since joining the track team, he has earned various awards and honors, including being named Ivy League Champion for Heptathlons in both 2019 and 2020.
But Iosivas’ success in both sports does not come without struggles. Between football and training for track, he has only one to two weeks to recover mentally and physically.
“Transitioning from football to track has been hard, especially switching the mindsets. When I’m in season for football, Iosivas said. “The only thing that is on my mind is football. Once that’s over, it’s hard to transition to track just because I thought so much about football from summer to the [end of the] season,” Iosivas said.
For Iosivas, the mental transition is much easier compared to the physical transition.
“My friends on the track team, they helped me get back into it [mentally]. And, once I see my goals in front of my face, it’s easy in that sense as well,” he said.
“The physical aspect is kind of hard though,” he continued. “I always get nicked up during football … that really affects the way I train for track. So I’m always … a little bit behind with training and endurance when it comes to the track season.”
Beyond the injuries accumulated from the football season that prevented him from fully training, Iosivas says the different types of training between the two sports can present a challenge, too. With such a short gap between the two seasons, there isn’t enough time for him to build the strength required for events in the Heptathlon.
Iosivas utilized his gap year from 2020 to 2021 to become stronger. “During football season, I usually lose weight because … we aren’t really lifting to build muscle … then, during track, you’re running all the time. So, that gap year really helped me build a base to be stronger … and to take myself to the next level. And, so now that I have that base, I just basically squatted, benched, and ran a lot, and I think that has helped me in track with the transition,” he said.
Although he sometimes feels at a disadvantage when it comes to training for track, Iosivas emphasized how thankful he is to have the opportunity to play both sports. And, despite feeling slightly behind, Iosivas continues to excel in his events. He shares that his favorite events within the Heptathlon are anything that involves speed and power, such as sprints and the long jumps. On the other hand, he struggles the most with longer distance events.
“There’s the 1000 meter run and, like, my muscles — I get a lot of lactic buildup, which makes it really hard for me,” he remarked.
As for training with the team, his days look a lot different than from his teammates who specialize in specific events. Rather than constantly working on a specific technique, his daily practices often consist of working on two events, and his days are usually longer.
As he put it: “It’s more like a crash course rather than really diving into specific events.”
Since the Wesley A. Brown Invitational, Iosivas has taken the week off of training due to a slight injury he sustained during the 60 meter dash. While Harvard-Yale-Princeton (HYPs) is quickly approaching this weekend, he will not be competing. Instead, he will be on the sidelines, cheering on his teammates while he finishes his recovery. “I think our team is doing really well … We have a national caliber team, so I’m really excited to see how this weekend plays out,” Iosivas said.
His encouraging words are a direct reflection of the supportive nature of the team dynamic.
“In track, it’s like you just want to dominate your opponent in your event, but also as a team,” he said. “It’s just the fact that everyone does different stuff and comes together is something really cool that I have experienced on the track team. It’s a different type of care. You know what I mean? You bond just because you guys care about each other, even though you guys aren’t doing the same thing.”
As the season progresses, Iosivas is excited to see the team continue their level of success. He is hopeful that the team will make it to nationals — perhaps even earn a spot on the podium. As for himself, the goal is to earn a medal at nationals. More generally, however, Iosivas is simply excited to compete after two years without track.
“I want to do well for myself. I want to prove to myself that I am this athlete that I think I am, and I want to make people proud of me. I just got to perform.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Iosivas holds the highest national Heptathlon mark for the current season.
Julia Nguyen is Head Sports editor at the ‘Prince.’ She is from Boston, MA and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.