Hawkeye tracksters look to take advantage of winter break


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The Iowa women's track and field team feels confident that its fall conditioning phase has provided a springboard as it prepares to plunge into the season.

The meets will start quickly — Illinois will travel to Iowa City on Jan. 14, just days before the spring semester begins.

But the Iowa coaching staff said it believes having a month off from coached workouts won't slow down the team from a hopeful promising season ahead.

"Our philosophy is 'always be working,' " assistant coach Christi Smith said. "If they follow that, I think they'll be able to maintain the base they've been working on over the last four months."

Each athlete was given a small booklet listing workouts, lifting schedules, and even necessary diets to make sure they stay on track during the break.

"As long as they're working through [the break], they'll be fine," Smith said. "It's not the time to go home and pig out; it's a time where we want to be working and get a little edge on our competition."

Head coach Layne Anderson said the Hawkeyes showed some "good signs" following an intrasquad exhibition on Dec. 3, despite holding out some top competition from participating in the meet.

That group consisted mainly of distance runners, who had ended their cross-country season shortly before the intrasquad; some notables were freshman Kayla Beattie and seniors Brooke Eilers, Betsy Flood, and McKenzie Melander.

But on Jan. 14, all of those runners will contribute to the overall team score to aid the Hawkeyes as their 10-week season gets underway.

"[The intrasquad] was a clear indicator that we are a much better team [than last year], but we have to keep getting better," Anderson said on Dec. 3. "The next month will be very important because they will head their separate ways for the holidays.

"We definitely want to get people home to spend time with our families, but we want some reassurances that they're continuing to work and get better, so that we can come back in and see some better performances."

No matter what kind of training is done, the athletes themselves say they see the monthlong break as a hurdle before they hit the ground running for the season. Hannah Simonson said she believes one of the obstacles to staying in shape will be the access — or lack thereof — to indoor facilities during the holiday breather.

"It's always a big challenge, because not everyone has indoor facilities," the Jefferson, Iowa, native said. "I'm from rural Iowa, so I know I have to drive 45 minutes [for a workout]. But coach can manipulate our workouts so we can still get the work in that we need to be successful."

Simonson said she and the rest of the team believe this season will be a good one, despite the monthlong break.

"It'll go pretty well," she said. "We've been working hard for this."

Follow DI women's track and field reporter Cody Goodwin on Twitter.

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