'What's next?': No hurdles block Franklin native Natalie's path

’What’s next?’: No hurdles block Franklin native Natalie’s path

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Franklin native Natalie Block has made a lot of strides since she first started running for Girls on The Run training for a 5K in the 4th grade. Now she is one of the most accomplished track athletes in Milwaukee Panthers history.

"It's a passion. So, when I'm doing my passion, I'm truly happy," said Block, Panthers senior runner. I wouldn't trade anything in the world for it."

Natalie Block shifted to sprints when she started progressing in the sport, but the move to hurdles came in college.

Natalie Block CBS 58

"I love going fast, I love the adrenaline," said Block.

Her accomplishments prove that. Block holds six program records. She broke her own marks in the 60m hurdles, 100-meter hurdles, 300-meter run, 400-meter run, and 400-meter hurdles all during this past indoor and outdoor season. She still holds the programs pentathlon record as well, set back in 2022.

She finished this past spring by adding 100 meter and 400-meter hurdle Horizon League championships, giving her 10 total for her career. Block has also been named All-League 11 times.

Block is also a three-time indoor Alfreeda Goff Track & Field Athlete of the Year and earned the honor again this past spring during the outdoor season. She is only the third athlete in Horizon League history to win the award during the indoor and outdoor seasons in the same year.

Block is proud of her work but isn't satisfied.

"With my name, I don't want a period, I want a comma. I don't want to stop. I just want to keep going," said Block. "What's next, that's always with me, what's next 'How can I improve? How can I keep going?'"

Panthers track and field coach Andrew Basler recruited Block to Milwaukee. He says he learns from her as much as she learns from him.

"An athlete like that makes you better as a coach. You got to be on your game. You can't settle and get stuck in your old ways. You got to continuously push the envelope in the things you learn and the things you do," said Basler.

Block and two of her Milwaukee Panthers teammates will be at the NCAA West Preliminary meet in Fayetteville, Arkansas running from May 22-25. Block will run in both the 100 meter and 400-meter hurdles. She's the first Panther to qualify for multiple events in the same season since 2015. The top-48 times in the country make the first round meets. The top-12 finishes in each event advance to the NCAA Championships held in Eugene, Oregon from June 5-8. Block ranks Top-20 in both of her events.

"The goal this year wasn't just to make it there, it wasn't just to make it to the NCAA championships. I feel like - she hasn't seen anyone who's pushed her yet. So, I think there's still a lot more time that can get dropped in both her races," said Basler.

Block missed most of her sophomore season with injury and has balanced her time with what she calls a rigorous school workload in the Biomedical Sciences Radiologic Technologic program. She says because of that the sport taught her discipline and feels she is exactly where she is supposed to be.

Natalie Block CBS 58

"The journey is a beautiful thing. And it's only going to make you better at the end of the day," said Block.

During the season Block also qualified for the U.S. Olympic team trials in the 400m hurdles with a time below the minimum mark of 58 seconds. If that holds up by the cutoff time June 9th, Block will compete in Eugene, Oregon June 21-30 at the Olympic trials. While her mind is on the current task at hand with the upcoming NCAA meets, the Olympics are a long-term goal, especially the 2028 Olympics to be hosted in Los Angeles.

"I'm on the right track, no pun intended," Block said with a laugh.

Block will still have two more years of eligibility to keep on running and improving as well.

Block runs in the 100-meter hurdles on Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m. followed by the 400-meter hurdles later that night at 8:20 p.m. Both can be streamed on ESPN+.

Both Marquette and Wisconsin will have athletes hoping to make the NCAA Championships as well.

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