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Women’s track taking strides to improve program

BY MICHELE DANNO | DECEMBER 02, 2009 7:20 AM

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Rebuilding is an understatement for the 2010 Iowa women’s track season.

Despite the Hawkeyes’ 11th-place finish in the Big Ten last year, the program managed to recruit 23 freshmen from around the country — their hometowns ranging from Atlanta to London.

Iowa head coach Layne Anderson said Iowa’s poor finish last season is “in the past,” and his tracksters are now “aiming toward the future.”

These 23 newcomers make up more than half the squad, and Anderson said a recruiting class of this size has been the program’s goal for the past few years.

“We intended to get our roster size up to a minimum of 55,” the six-year Iowa coach said. “This was designed to fill gaps in areas we don’t currently have people and to really get our program competitive at the Big Ten level.”

Anderson noted his past teams have been made up of some 20 or 30 women, but with the addition of his current incoming class the number jumped to 52.

The newcomers have trained all summer and fall to prepare for the indoor track season, which will begin in January 2010. Some student-athletes are familiar with Division-I competition after participating in the 2009 cross-country season.

But some are still waiting anxiously in the starting blocks.

Freshman sprinter Raven Moore said she has mixed emotions going into the season, but she ultimately feels “very prepared.” She has been coached very well so far, she said, and her training has been rigorous — lifting weights, conditioning, running hills, and “basically running till we die.”

Moore, like many of her fellow freshmen, received tempting offers from other competitive Division-I schools. The Atlanta native said Notre Dame, Mississippi, Florida State, and Columbia as a few on her list, but she chose Iowa almost immediately after her visit.

Freshman distance runner Megan Ranegar said her decision to come to Iowa was not difficult, but her college career got off to a rough start with a foot injury that kept her from competing in cross-country season. Anderson chose to redshirt the Indiana native in October, and he said she is almost “back to 100 percent” now.

Ranegar is a key competitor on the distance side of the team, and Anderson said he will “definitely be relying on her” for the track season.

Although many of the freshmen boast impressive high-school careers and credentials, Anderson said, there is still a lot of work to be done. His ultimate goal for the program is to reach the top five in the Big Ten, then eventually progress further up in the rankings.

“I think until we get to that level, we’ll always be in a building mode,” Anderson said. “I don’t know that were going to see immediate success this year. We have a lot of kids who are going to need time to develop, so it’s going to take some work.

“But we’ll see the benefits of all these new faces down the road.”

Anderson noted the chemistry of his young team “seems fantastic” because of the enthusiasm the freshmen bring to the track. Junior distance runner Hannah Roeder agreed the newcomers are revamping the program.

“I think they’re all really excited to show the rest of the team, and the Big Ten, what they can do,” she said. “We all know we have a lot of work to do to get to the top, but I think we’re starting to get the people in place to get to that level.”


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