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Women’s track and field team two years stronger heading into Big Tens

BY AMY TIFFANY | FEBRUARY 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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Only two years ago, the Iowa women’s track and field team was in a completely different place. It was near the bottom of the Big Ten, and the squad had one of its worst performances in recent history, finishing in last place (10th) at the indoor conference meet.

Heading into this weekend’s Big Ten championships — hosted by Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. — two years later, it’s a different story.

Head coach Layne Anderson said the Hawkeyes have had plenty of success this season. They’ve had a successful year of training. They’ve competed more successfully than previous years. They’ve seen more individual success. Certain events that, in the past, haven’t had the attention they need to be successful, are performing well.

Across the board, it’s a different team.

“The last few years we haven’t finished that great,” senior Bethany Praska said. “And so we’re definitely looking forward to getting Iowa a name on the track and performing well.”

After a two-year slump, he said that the Hawkeyes are “light-years ahead” of where they were.

Even though the Hawkeyes had some top individual performances during the two-year time period, Anderson said, as a team, Iowa didn’t have the “firepower or depth” it is now building.

One of the reasons for this drastic change is team and event depth, as well as talent spread across different events. The size of the team has grown, and more Hawkeyes are capable of competing at a high level.

Another reason that has made a positive difference, junior Betsy Flood said, is that Iowa is more focused on the team this weekend instead of on a couple of individual athletes who have the potential to score points. She described it as team unification.

Many of the top athletes in Iowa’s strongest events are one and two years older. They’ve had more track experience and more training.

Some events, such as the throwers, could now score points this weekend. Last year, Anderson said, the throwers only gained experience from their trip to Big Tens.

“For this group to be where it is now, two years later, is a great step in the right direction, but a long way from where we want to be, so that’s the message,” he said. “While we’re still doing good things, we’ve still got a long way to go to really put this program in position where it hopefully competes for Big Ten titles.”

As a team, Iowa has seen tremendous leaps of improvements in the past two years. But it isn’t the end of the road for the Hawkeyes.

They still aren’t where they want to be.

“Are we where we want to be? Not yet, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Anderson said. “We’re all getting on the bus this Friday much more optimistic about our chances to be competitive than we were last year and than we certainly were two years ago.”


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