OTTUMWA — It was simply a happy coincidence that Alli Bookin-Nosbisch produced her best time in a cross-country race last week on the Ashton course in Iowa City.
The home course of the Iowa Hawkeyes will soon become the home course of the Ottumwa twin sisters, both for training and competition on the college level.
Grace Bookin-Nosbisch posted the official announcement on social media that both she and twin sister Alli have committed to run starting next year at the University of Iowa. The first state-championship winning siblings in the history of Ottumwa girls track and field made the decision to continue their academic and athletic careers in their home state, choosing Iowa over finalists including the University of Kansas, Oklahoma State and Iowa State University.
“We’ve always known that we like Iowa, but we wanted to keep our options open,” Alli Bookin-Nosbisch said. “We went on a lot of visits and we talked to a lot of schools. Iowa seemed like the best fit for us.
“It really felt like our home away from home,” Grace Bookin-Nosbisch added. “We love the team. We love all of it.”
The Ottumwa sisters will not officially be able to sign letters of intent until next month. The two had been absent last week on a recruiting trip before returning for last Thursday’s Bud Williams Invitational cross-country meet, where Alli Bookin-Nosbisch led the Bulldog girls to a fourth-place finish as one of 11 OHS runners to post a personal-best time, finishing the run on the Ashton Course in 18:49.6.
“I’ve always liked the Iowa City course, so it kind of works out that we’ll be running there next year,” Alli Bookin-Nosbisch said. “We’ll probably only run one cross-country race. Mostly, we’ll be running track.
“The biggest thing we were looking for is a place where we were not just going to be a number on the team,” Grace Bookin-Nosbisch added. “We genuinely felt like they (Iowa) wanted us there as athletes and not just numbers.”
The recruiting process and eventual commitment to Iowa adds to what has been an incredible 2019 for the Bookin-Nosbisch sisters highlighted by last year’s history-making state track and field meet as the sisters joined Carollin Mellin and Meghan Coulter in a winning run in the Class 4A girls 4x800 relay. The team produced the eighth-fastest time in state track and field history, finishing the two-mile race in 9:13.85.
Two days later, Alli Bookin-Nosbisch earned the first individual state track and field title for the Ottumwa girls program, winning the Class 4A girls 800 meter run in 2:11.45. Twin sister Grace was also in the hunt for that championship, finishing fourth in 2:14.2 to help Ottumwa secure a sixth-place state track and field finish as a team in 4A.
“Both the Drake Relays and the state meet really got our names out there to more college,” Alli Bookin-Nosbisch said.
“For both of us, this is something we’ve dreamed about from a young age,” Grace Bookin-Nosbisch added. “We’ve dreamed about running for a Division I college. Now, it’s a dream come true.”
Both sisters have their sights set on even bigger accomplishments. Beyond hoping to guide the OHS girls to the state cross-country meet this fall and trying to add to their list of state track titles this spring, Alli and Grace both have hopes of contending with some of the best college athletes in the country starting next season at Iowa.
“Our big goal is to make it to the NCAA outdoor track and field championships,” Alli Bookin-Nosbisch said. “They told us that they can get us there.”
When it come to the recruiting process, there was no doubt in either athletes mind that choosing a college would ultimately be a joint decision. There was no doubt from either Alli or Grace that the Bookin-Nosbisch sisters would be splitting up by choosing different colleges.
“If we went to different schools, we would have ended up transferring just to be together,” Alli Bookin-Nosbisch said.
“We told every school from the get-go that we were going together,” Grace Bookin-Nosbisch added. “If you want one us, you have to take both of us.”
Choosing Iowa also will allow the Bookin-Nosbisch sister to reunite with a former Ottumwa teammate. Kylie Latham, the Ottumwa school record-holder in the 1,500 meters (4:52.23) and 3,000 meters (10:32.35), recently posted her personal-best time running for the Hawkeye cross-country team as the current Iowa sophomore posted a time of 17:53.8 last Friday at the Notre Dame Invitational.
“Kylie is definitely going to help guide us,” Grace Bookin-Nosbisch said. “She’s a wonderful person and she’s always going to make sure we’ll feel like we’re welcomed there with her as our teammate once again.”