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Hendricks and Praska are the heartbeat of the women's track and field sprinters group

BY AMY TIFFANY | DECEMBER 15, 2010 7:10 AM

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What do two cats, art, reality fashion-TV shows, sarcasm, and coffee all have in common?

They are all interests of Iowa track and field seniors Tiffany Praska and Bethany Hendricks.

"We are coffee fiends," Hendricks said.

What do endurance and foot speed have in common?

Those two are opposing characteristics in track and field performers. They tend to accompany athletes who compete in different events. Some people have better endurance, some have the overall quicker foot speed.

As Hendricks put it, what she needs to work on, Praska has mastered. And what Praska needs to work on, Hendricks has secured as one of her strengths.

Though Hendricks and Praska compete in different events, there have been times in the past where the two have been able to practice together.

"There was a practice where we ran together," Hendricks said. "It really illuminated the fact that she has what I need, and I have what she needs.

"She [Praska] is extremely fit and has the endurance I need to finish off the 400. I can push her to get out of that first 50 meters [of a 400] quickly."

Hendricks and Praska have been roommates in their two-person apartment since sophomore year, and they have built a close friendship in their three years at Iowa, both on the team and outside of it. Hendricks called living with Praska a "natural fit."

Now in their final year as Hawkeyes, Hendricks and Praska have been labeled prominent leaders of different groups on the track and field team. Although they compete in different events, Hendricks and Praska are both coached by assistant coach Clive Roberts, who is an instructor for both the men's and women's teams.

Roberts said he turns to Hendricks and Praska to get his message across to the other athletes and to lead the group in warm-ups, daily practice, and at competitions.

"I'm able to trust those two ladies," Roberts said. "They are both my rocks."

Hendricks generally leads the women who compete in the 200 and open 400 during the indoor season, which also includes the 400 hurdles in the outdoor season. Praska leads a group more concentrated in running longer distances, the 600 and 800.

As the only two true seniors in the sprinters group, they have "that little bit of extra juice," Hendricks said, that will give them the extra push to tie up the loose ends of their last year and achieve the goals they haven't yet accomplished. Those characteristics include working hard and wanting each other to succeed as much as they want themselves to succeed.

"We have the same goals for each other that we would set for ourselves," Praska said.

Hendricks and Praska have found their niche to stand out in a talented but young group of sprinters.

"A coach looks for a couple of athletes in a program that has his heartbeat," Roberts said. "Truly, they have my heartbeat."


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