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Track and field team happy to be home

BY MATT SCHOMMER and MICHELE DANNO | APRIL 16, 2010 7:30 AM

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After the devastating flood in 2008, the Hawkeyes were left without a home in 2009.

Fast forward two years, and Cretzmeyer Track has a whole new look that has Hawkeye coaches and athletes excited.

Iowa will host Drake, Marquette, Western Illinois, Illinois, Northern Iowa, and Chicago State on Saturday in the Iowa Invitational.

“It’s good to have a track of our own to run on,” D’Juan Richardson said. “Last year, we had to go the local high schools, and they weren’t really up to par for what we needed to train.”

The tracks they had to practice on were too hard or too bouncy, and one even had potholes.

As a sophomore, this is Richardson’s first time running outdoors at a true home track, an experience he shares with assistant coach Clive Roberts.

“This is my first time on this track, too,” he said. “I’ll be new to the whole experience as well.”

While the track surface itself isn’t made of anything special, athletes such as Richardson are noticing a change. With high-school tracks proving to be a downgrade from the collegiate venues the Hawkeyes usually run in, Cretzmeyer 2.0 has been a boost for the tracksters.

“You can really see the difference between this year and last year,” he said. “Having our own track, times have gotten a lot faster. It’s just beneficial for everybody.”

Several advantages are in place for the Hawkeyes now that Cretzmeyer Track has been restored.

After traveling all over the country to places such as Arizona, California, and Georgia, the team won’t have to deal with getting used to a new track, or the wear and tear that happens on lengthy road trips.

And home crowds in any sport are always a key emotional boost.

“Now, we can run here in Iowa City where out parents can see us, fellow athletes and friends,” senior Ray Varner said. “Family can actually see us run for the first time in years.”

The women are also thrilled to be back in a familiar abode.

“It’s always exciting to host a home meet because it’s a comfortable atmosphere,” junior Lauren Hardesty said. “Travel can take a lot out of you. Plus, now our whole team can come.”

While the squad will attend the event, not all the Hawkeyes will compete.

Head coach Layne Anderson said a majority of the Hawkeyes are entered in the meet, but coaches are holding back some of their best women. Hardesty, along with Rhonda-Kaye Trusty, Caleigh Bacchus, Betsy Flood, and a few other top performers will take the weekend to rest and train for upcoming meets.

Anderson said the women have previously reached heights or set times that should get them into the first round of the NCAA meet.

“Of course, these [women] will keep working toward improvement, but they’re in a good spot already,” Anderson said. “We don’t want to over-compete people.”

Iowa’s All-American junior hurdler Karessa Farley will still run her 100-meter hurdles this weekend. Anderson said his staff is “looking for her to get her season underway.”

And Farley isn’t the only woman expected to have a strong performance. Anderson said he wants to stress the importance of the team competing at the highest level.

“We’re at a point now where we expect big things from everyone,” he said. “We’ll put you in the meet and put you in the uniform because we’re expecting you to do well.”


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