Five first-place finishes for Iowa women’s track and field

BY AMY TIFFANY | APRIL 11, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s track and field team earned five first-place spots this past weekend, one at the 32nd-annual Sun Devil Classic in Tempe, Ariz., and four at the Cornell Open in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Along with the many top finishes, one school record was broken throughout the busy weekend.

Sophomore Majesty Tutson, who competed in Arizona, took first in the discus final on April 9 and set the school record with a throw of 50.87 meters.

The weekend was highlighted by good performances from Tutson and freshman Jasmine Simpson in the throws group, as well as by senior Bethany Praska and junior Nicole Erickson in the 800 meters and senior captain Tiffany Hendricks in the 400-meter hurdles. But because of sour weather on April 9 in Arizona, Iowa chose to end its participation in the meet a little early to avoid the risk of injuries. Head coach Layne Anderson said the weather “was pretty nasty.”

“All and all it was a solid weekend,” he said. “But we came in expecting a lot more.”

All of the races were affected by the weather, assistant coach Clive Roberts said, and he noted that he did not accomplish what he wanted to. But he said the Hawkeyes were able to learn from it, and in the future, they will be able to cope with similar conditions.

The four other champions competed at the Cornell Open, where the weather was much better.

Sophomore Rachel Curry took first in the shot put with a throw of 13.51 meters.

Freshman Ashley Wilkinson, an Iowa City native, took first place in the 200 meters with a time of 26.47 seconds, and freshman Emelia Thompson leapt 5 meters in the long jump for first place.

The final champion was sophomore pole-vaulter Kirsten Weismantle, who vaulted 3.35-meters (10 feet, 11 and 3/4 inches) to take the top spot in the event.

There were a number of other strong finishes in both meets despite the weather in Arizona.

Hendricks broke one minute and took sixth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.65, fifth on Iowa’s all-time best list. Hendricks said she set breaking one minute in the 400-meter hurdles and making it to regionals and nationals as goals for the outdoor season.

In 400-meter premier race, Hendricks placed second with a time of 55.29, and freshman Ashley Liverpool took fourth with a time of 55.77 in the college open race.

Praska took third in the 800-meter premier race with a time of 2:07.03, the fourth-best time in the Iowa record books. Erickson ran in the Collegiate Open 800 race and took sixth with a time of 2:11.50.

Simpson took eighth in the hammer throw at Arizona, throwing for 54.48 meters in her college début. Redshirt freshman Ashlyn Gulvas also threw the hammer for a personal best, the throw traveling 51.56 meters for 10th place.

In the 1,500 meters at Cornell, junior Danielle Berndt took second with a time of 4:40.56, and junior Jackie Laesch followed her in third place with a time of 4:44.07. Iowa freshman Katherin Rehn was fifth at 4:46.50. Sophomore Kelsey Hart, who ran the race in 4:50.78, rounded out the Iowa competitors in the 1,500 meters.

“That we won a number of events was a good sign,” Anderson said about the Cornell Open.

Even though it was a smaller meet, he was happy with the consistent results from the Pella Invitational to Cornell. The Hawkeyes accomplished a lot at Cornell, and the weather in eastern Iowa was better than it was in Arizona.

“That’s track and field,” Roberts said. “We can’t control the weather; we just have to get back on the horse Monday.”

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