Iowa women’s track and field preps for whatever Sun Angel Classic brings

BY AMY TIFFANY | APRIL 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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What isn’t to like about the weather in Arizona?

The Midwest boasts extremely volatile spring weather, ranging from freezing temperatures to nearly summer-like temperatures. Arizona, for the most part, doesn’t face the same meteorological challenges.

The Iowa women’s track and field team will compete in the Sun Angel Classic today and Saturday at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. A big meet in the outdoor collegiate track and field season, the classic brings good competition from across the country.

Although it’s a competitive meet, senior Bethany Praska and junior Nicole Erickson said it wasn’t one of their favorite meets of the outdoor season for a number of different reasons.

One, they said, is because sometimes it’s less like a track meet and more like a show — for instance, last year’s event included fireworks.

The meet also runs through the entirety of both days, and Praska said in the morning it might be really hot, but then during the next race, it might be raining, and then back to hot a half hour later.

Despite the possibility of erratic weather, the warm climate is still one of the reasons it draws a number of teams from the northern areas of the country.

Head coach Layne Anderson had more favorable view of the meet and weather.

“It’s in the desert — you’re typically pretty confident you’ll get some good weather,” he said. “The weather every year we’ve gone has been good, but it doesn’t mean at some point we’ll have some crummy weather — that could very easily happen.”

To avoid possible overheating challenges, Anderson said he is putting all but one of the long-distance runners in the shorter 1,500-meter race. Sophomore Megan Ranegar is the only Hawkeye running in the 5,000-meter race.

Weather aside, he said about 85 percent of the squad will travel to Tempe. Another seven to eight athletes will compete at the Cornell Open in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Arizona has traditionally been a good meet for the Hawkeyes, said assistant coach Clive Roberts.

“Even though some people have had one meet or two meets, it’s the first one we can sit down and just put everything out there and see how we do,” Praska said.

Another reason Anderson said it’s a good meet for the entire team is because there is an appropriate level of competition.

“Our training’s been consistent, everyone’s been staying together, so it will be fun to just get with my old racing group and warm up together,” junior captain Betsy Flood said. “And hopefully, we can just all lead each other to [personal records] and great races at least.”

The overall goal in the meet, for the Hawkeyes, is to keep building.

“It’s just the next meet for us,” Roberts said. “One of the things we’ve talked about, especially in the women’s sprint group, is just we’re going to focus on what this meet is, building on the future, but we’re not going to worry about the future, we’re going to take care of today.”

“This is just the next meet that we’ve got to get going. And we’re going to get out there and challenge ourselves once again.”

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