Women's track and field sees better results at Musco meet

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

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Even though it was cold and windy, the Iowa women's track and field team still made improvements, set personal marks, and crowned champions at the Musco Twilight meet.

And there were still brave souls — fans, family members, and friends — who came out to watch the Hawkeyes claim first place in eight different events at the Cretzmeyer Track on April 23.

"I thought we competed well despite some less than ideal weather," head coach Layne Anderson said. "The throwers really got us going as far as starting the day off in the hammer. I know we also had a good discus, we had some good things in the shot, and we kind of carried that out onto the track."

Freshman Jasmine Simpson and redshirt freshman captain Kelsey Taylor recorded personal records in the hammer throw. Simpson threw 54.93 meters, and Taylor tossed for 53.95 meters.

With a time of 12.71 seconds, freshman Ashley Wilkinson placed first in the 100 meters. Freshman Erin Jones took first in the 200 with a time of 24.52. Iowa won the 4x100 relay, with a team composed of Jones, senior captain Tiffany Hendricks, and freshmen Ashley Liverpool and Carisa Leacock.

The 400 meters was full of Iowa athletes in top spots. Coming in first was senior Bethany Praska, who set a personal record with a time of 54.01. In third with a time of 54.24 was Liverpool, followed by Hendricks in 54.40. In the 400-meter hurdles, Iowa sophomore Hannah Simonson took first with her time of 1:01.35.

Senior Lauren Hardesty took second in the 800 with a time of 2:11.21. The 1,500-meter race had a number of Hawkeye competitors. Senior Hannah Roeder placed third, immediately followed by senior Amanda Hardesty.

In the pole vault, sophomore Kirsten Weismantle recorded a new personal best of 3.50 meters, third on Iowa's all-time list.

Three current Hawkeyes — junior captain Betsy Flood, who holds the meet and facility record, and juniors Brooke Eilers and McKenzie Melander, and one former Hawk, Diane Nukuri Johnson — the school record holder in the event, ran the 3,000-meter.

"It was really exciting that we got to have four Hawkeyes up there," Flood said. "… I think it's cool that we got to work together, and I don't know if we've ever stayed together that long."

For most of the race, Flood and Nukuri Johnson led, followed closely by Eilers, then Melander in a tight, synchronized pack. But Flood took the top spot with a time of 9:28.89, followed by an impressive kick by Eilers, who finished in 9:30.08. Eilers, who has been injured for the majority of her Iowa career, and her coaches were excited about her performance.

"A lot of times after cross-country, I was really beat up and could never quite get the momentum into track," she said.

But this race may have been a turning point for her. After the cross-country season this year, she found a good balance of cross training and running. Now, she said, she is just happy to be running.

"I'm finally starting to find that other gear and strength mentally to kind of kick that last lap," Eilers said. "I've never really had that before."

Melander took third with a time 9:34.13. Eilers, and Melander's times now join Flood's on the Iowa top performance list. Flood's was already on the list with her personal record of 9:22.63, but Eilers' and Melander's performances moved them to seventh and ninth.

Sophomore Kelsey Hart ran the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the first time in her career and took second in 10:56.57.

Leacock placed first in the long jump with a 5.95-meter jump, followed by another freshman, Zinnia Miller, with a 5.51-meter jump.

Two Iowa 4x4 relay teams competed, taking first and third. The first place team of junior Nicole Erickson, Hendricks, Praska, and Liverpool ran in 3:43.31.

"I thought, all-in-all, we did some good things and again, what's nice is we're showing a consistent level of performance, which is what you're looking for at this time of year," Anderson said.

"Whether it's cold and windy or sunny and hot, you want to see people compete and do well, and I feel like we're doing that."

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