New Hawkeye workouts spur women tracksters


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Assistant women's track and field coach Christi Smith is a firm believer that the level of talent for the Hawkeyes is higher than it was a season ago. She also said there's an additional source of motivation that will help push the women's side further than last season.

And what is this motivation?

Their teammates of the opposite sex. The Iowa men's team won last year's outdoor Big Ten championship.

"Winning the Big Ten championship helped align a winning attitude," Smith said. "We're faster, stronger, and more motivated."

But motivation can only take the team so far; while many of the women said the men's success set the bar high, they said the expectations they put on themselves could prove to be the difference between a good season and a great one.

Their coaches agree.

"The focus for us is to have a competitive mentality, in practice sessions and in competition," Smith said. "I think it's theirs for the taking. The only thing that could possibly get in the way is lifestyle choices off the field, [because in practice] we get it done. We work pretty hard."

The fall conditioning stage has been more intense this season than in years past. Rather than focusing on simple running and jumping exercises to improve personal benchmarks, the coaches are placing more emphasis on technique in the hope that better fundamentals will improve their performances as a whole.

The athletes say it seems to be working.

"This year, [their training] is intense," sophomore high-jumper Zinnia Miller said. "It feels more productive … The training we're doing, it feels hard, but I can feel the positive effects. I feel stronger. As opposed to last year, this year feels better."

Miller pointed to her workout on Tuesday as an example of the new training regimen. She said she had to run a 300-meter dash in under 35 seconds and follow that with a 200-meter run in preparation for the 800-meter race that's part of the heptathalon. Miller said Smith made her repeat the exercise twice — and that was only one set.

Miller and her teammates were told to do this set of drills two times at the end of an already difficult conditioning workout.

The 19-year-old said workouts such as these help her more than the practices the team performed last year; then, she said, workouts didn't focus on her technique and instead just wore her out.

"It's a lot better because we know what we're going to be feeling [in competition], as opposed to [last year's workouts] where we would just get tired and it didn't feel like it was helping out much," she said.

While the workouts and motivation will aid the athletes, head coach Layne Anderson said he still believes success will come down to the way his athletes react in competition. Specifically, each Hawkeye needs to take care of her individual job in order to produce a successful team effort.

"We need to have that same kind of effort," he said, referring to the men's outdoor Big Ten championship run last season. "Everybody needs to pull her weight and do her job … performing at the level she can perform at. Teams that do a better job of that, at the end of the day, are your better teams.

"… Our greatest challenge is ourselves."

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