Iowa women's tracksters set personal bests at intrasquad


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The Black and Gold Intrasquad meet on Dec. 3 was the unofficial beginning of the Iowa women's track and field season. The exhibition, held in the Recreation Building, served as a measuring tool to help judge where the athletes are following their fall conditioning phase.

The friendly competition was still in the air, and the entire track squad was divided into the Black and Gold teams. Each side was distinguishable by shoe color; in the end, the Black edged the Gold, 43-41.

Head coach Layne Anderson learned invaluable information about this year's team and the level of skill it will bring to each meet for the rest of the indoor season. Anderson had spoken about his team's potential in the preseason, and he said he's confident the intrasquad meet showed improvement from years past.

"We saw some good signs, which is a clear indicator that we're a much better team — but we need to continue to get better," he said.

The third-year head coach had also said the meet would "hopefully, uncover one or two diamonds in the rough."

Enter freshman Khanishah Williams.

Williams stole the show in two different events by claiming the 60-meter hurdles (9.33 seconds) and the high jump (1.78 meters, her personal record). Williams claimed the Iowa high-school Class 4A state championship in both events last year at Burlington High.

But what makes the time and height more impressive is that a 1.78 high jump would have earned Williams All-American honors at the indoor NCAA championships last year. A 9.33 in the 60-meter hurdles last season would have been 0.01 seconds away from an All-Big Ten mark.

While Williams clearly stood out in the intrasquad meet, Iowa's coaches said she met their early expectations.

"I feel very accomplished and happy that I got my PR from high school," Williams said. "I'm going to get that 6-0 [high jump] one day, though."

Assistant coach Christi Smith said she shares Williams' tenacious attitude.

"She was able to execute most of the points we wanted to get done today," Smith said. "She's got a bright future. She's a strong competitor."

Williams did say she was nervous during her 1.81-meter jump — she missed on all three of her attempts — she didn't shy away from the challenge of reaching new heights.

"I'll just need to practice those higher heights," Williams said. "… I just need to get comfortable with them. I kind of need that [1.81-meter] for college."

Anderson also said he was excited about the overall improvement of his throwers. He noted the shot-put performance of junior Rachel Curry, who posted a personal best of 14.94 meters.

"Our throwers definitely improved," he said. "Good athletes have the ability to rise to the occasion and post a good mark, even in a scrimmage-type setting. Curry has been one of those athletes who has had all the tools to throw far, and it's mostly been a mental block [keeping her from succeeding]. I believe she's starting to come out of that shell."

Kristen Weismantle won the pole vault by clearing a height of 3.58 meters. Returning All-Big Ten thrower Majesty Tutson claimed the weight throw competition by tossing 17.09 meters. Lena Placzek was the best current Hawkeye in on the women's 1,000 meters with a 2:58.19 time; former runner Bethany Praska ran unattached and won the race in 2:49.50.

Shannon Maser completed the mile in 5:33.14, which was good enough for a first-place finish. Raven Moore returned to action after not competing in 2011 and won the 300 meters in 39.94. Nicole Erickson edged out Hannah Simonson in the 500 meters in 1:15.96. Simonson finished at 1:15.99.

The meet was decided in the final event of the day, when the Black squad consisting of Moore, Erickson, Kelsey Mims, and Victoria Sack won the 4x400 relay in a time of 3:51.77.

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