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Women’s track and field team hungry for success

BY MICHELE DANNO | FEBRUARY 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa women’s track and field team has a chance for conference redemption this weekend.

After a disappointing last-place finish at the Big Ten indoor championship meet a year ago, the Hawkeyes believe they can only go up.

Despite being underdogs in the Big Ten meet, Saturday-Feb. 28 at Penn State, Iowa coach Layne Anderson said the Hawkeyes have the potential redeem the program’s reputation.

“If our season is any indication, I think we’re going into this meet with a lot more momentum and confidence than last year,” he said. “There’s a lot of promise in this group. A lot is there that wasn’t there a year ago.”

One major addition to the team is the 23 freshmen gained since last year who helped fill gaps on Iowa’s roster. The Hawkeyes have depended on first-year athletes this season in the throws and the pole vault.

However, the leaders of the team are veterans, and Anderson noted junior Karessa Farley and senior Rhonda-Kaye Trusty as two standout sprinters he expects to score high for the Hawkeyes. After scoring a mere 25 points at last year’s event, Farley and Trusty are committed get more.

Anderson also said he expects junior Bethany Praska to contribute. She’ll run the 600 meter and the 4-by-400 relay this weekend.

Praska, who has only run the 600 once this season, said she feels prepared because of her experience in the 400 and the 800. She will combine the speed from the 400 with the strength of the 800 races, she said.

Praska finished one second away from the provisional qualifying time in the 800 when she set her personal record of 2:11 at Nebraska on Feb. 6.

Throughout the season, many of her teammates have also hit career-best finishes, which, she said, is something to be proud of.

“I’m definitely happy with how the season has gone,” Praska said. “But I have an underlying selfishness that I want more for the team and more for myself. I want everyone to come out and perform at her peak this weekend. I’m hungry for success.”

Although the Hawkeyes don’t want to underestimate their abilities, both coaches and athletes alike said their chances of winning the Big Ten title is unlikely.

“The girls have done everything they’ve needed to do to prepare,” Iowa coach Clive Roberts said. “I feel we’re sitting pretty good, but we still have a long way to go before we win the conference.”

Junior Amanda Hardesty agreed, calling a first-place finish a “lofty goal.”

Hardesty, who has already provisionally qualified in the 3,000 meters, will run this weekend hoping to repeat her success.

Overall, being an underdog seems to be the driving force behind the Hawkeyes.

“Last year really lit a fire under our butts,” Praska said. “Now, we need to go out and make a difference in the Big Ten.”


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