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Young throwers highlight Jack Johnson Classic

BY MICHELE DANNO | JANUARY 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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It was a weekend of firsts for many members of the Iowa women’s track and field team.

With 30 freshmen on the roster of 52, the Jack Johnson Invitational in Minneapolis marked their first real chance to prove themselves as Division-I athletes.

For freshman walk-on Kelsey Taylor, the meet also marked her first time competing in the weight throw — an event not even offered at her prep alma mater, Camp Point Central, in Illinois.

She set a personal record of 53 feet to finish third in the event and helped the Hawkeyes place second overall on Jan. 23.

“The weight throw is an event that takes time to learn,” said Layne Anderson, the head women’s track coach. “Kelsey’s performance this weekend showed she is definitely ahead of the learning curve.”

Iowa throwing coach Scott Cappos also noticed Taylor.

“Kelsey exceeded our expectations in the throwing events,” he said. “She is starting to make some great improvements, and if she keeps going in this direction, she could end up qualifying for the NCAA championship, which would be a great accomplishment for a walk-on freshman.”

Taylor was not the only inexperienced thrower. The Hawkeye throwing squad consists of six first-year women, five of whom are freshmen — a substantial increase compared to last year’s throwing “team,” which consisted of one woman.

Taylor’s third-place finish in the weight throw, along with sophomore transfer Tiffany Medenwaldt’s third-place finish in the shot put, showed signs of improvement for the program.

Aside from throwing, the Iowa coaches noted a number of other events needing improvement from a year ago, when the Hawkeyes finished last in the Big Ten.

Iowa proved it could be a competitive threat, though, in the mile and the 4-by-400-meter relay.

Six of the first seven finishers in the mile were Iowa women, with junior Amanda Hardesty leading the group with a second place-finish at 4:54.22. Sophomore Betsy Flood followed closely, finishing third at 4:54.46.

The meet ended with Iowa taking second in the 4-by-400-meter behind Minnesota in 3:50. Positive attitudes and hopes for the future abounded following competition.

“This meet indicates that we still have a lot of work to do,” Iowa assistant coach Clive Roberts said.

“With all the freshmen, it is going to be a learning process. We’ve got a long way to go, but ending with the 4-by-400 the way it did and watching those [women] pull together as a team promotes the team attitude we’re trying to create.”


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