Jan 09, 2013 (St. Cloud Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Kali Peschel sounded just like, well ... Kali Peschel.
She was enthusiastic, energetic and friendly. One could almost see her smiling on the other end of the phone in Iowa City, Iowa.
"School's going really, really well," said Peschel, the 2012 Sauk Centre graduate now in her first year on the University of Iowa's women's basketball team. "We've been on Christmas break.
"We don't go back to school until Jan. 22. We'll have had five weeks off by then ... I'm a full-time player right now."
That's just fine with Peschel. The 6-foot-1 guard has worked her way into the Hawkeyes' rotation. She is eighth on the team in minutes played and Iowa is doing well.
The Hawkeyes merit consideration for the Top 25 rankings after a string of wins since Christmas, including a 74-71 overtime victory over No. 24 Ohio State in the Big Ten Conference opener.
Iowa, 12-4 overall, also has beaten West Virginia, Texas and Iowa State, all teams in the top 25 when they played the Hawkeyes. Their losses are to Florida International, North Carolina and Florida State and 68-64 to Michigan on Saturday.
It's a far cry from her days on the Mainstreeters, when the big games during the regular season were Albany and New London-Spicer.
"Our schedule is ranked 15th in the country," Peschel said. "We've played some really good teams. It's been fun to get to see these teams and get to play them."
Big-time basketball is a lot of time and work, Peschel admits.
"There are lots of practices, lots of film time and lots of games," she said. "(But) it's going well."
Her optimism masks what right now are modest stats. She is averaging 0.9 points per game and is struggling with her shot. She's shooting 13.6 percent from the field (3 of 22), including 12.5 percent (1 of 8) from three-point range.
"At this point, I'm just happy to be able to contribute to the team in any way I can," she said.
She's enjoying her studies. She plans to major in Spanish and communications and is coming off a strong fall semester. Classes included interpersonal communications, Greek mythology, Spanish, athletic seminar and career leadership academy.
She liked them all except for maybe Greek mythology, she said. Most important, she said, her classes helped her meet non-athletes, which isn't easy.
Being an athlete at Iowa in a small town like Iowa City, which is about the same size as St. Cloud, is a big deal.
"Hawkeye anything is a big deal," she said.
Peschel is one of the most honored athletes in Sauk Centre history, being a part of three straight state girls basketball tournaments, including a second-place finish in Class 2A last March.
It was a remarkable comeback for Peschel, who was limited to 11 games by an ACL injury suffered in the summer of 2011.
She also was on state teams in volleyball and ran at the state track and field championships as well.
Her schedule has become more hectic in college. She had three-and-a-half days at home for the holidays to spend time with her parents, Don and Patty Peschel, and her two younger sisters, Kelsey and Victoria.
Because the Hawkeyes were in a tournament in San Diego, she had to leave Sauk Centre on Christmas day.
"It was tough," she admitted. "But it really helped going to San Diego. That was fun."
Her advice to anyone considering college basketball is simple.
"Just really work on your work ethic and commitment," she said. "You need to be really dedicated with every step you take and every goal you meet."
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