Hawkeyes face stiff competition in Arkansas


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The Iowa women's track and field team faced some tough competition at the Adidas Classic last weekend in Lincoln, Neb.

The speed of Houston and the all-around performance from the 25th-ranked Cornhuskers made Iowa's first meet away from home a wake-up call; the Hawkeyes claimed a third-place finish despite the "unpreparedness" and "nerves" head coach Layne Anderson said got to his team.

But if the Hawkeyes want to come away with a better result at the Razorback Invitational this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark., there can't be any unpreparedness. There can't be any nerves.

The Hawkeyes will be pitted against some of the top programs in the country, beginning today at noon at the Randal Tyson Track Center.

"The reality is, we've got to get a lot better, because that type of performance, as a team, won't get us ready come Big Ten time," Anderson said, referring to the results from Lincoln.

And if the team is going to get better, it's better off facing even tougher competition than last weekend.

The Razorback Invitational will host eight Top-25 teams, including two of the top five (No. 2 LSU and No. 3 Arkansas), seven of the top 20 — No. 9 Florida State, No. 12 Arizona, No. 13 Georgia, No. 16 Baylor, and No. 19 Oklahoma — and No. 24 Stanford.

And then there's unranked Iowa.

"For those that didn't necessarily do what they wanted to do [at Nebraska], they can get that sour taste out of their mouth pretty quick," Anderson said. "But only if we get in there and compete."

One of the few bright spots for the Hawkeyes last weekend was Nicole Erickson, who placed first in the 600 meters and was the second leg of the second-place 1,600-meter relay. The senior said the banked track Arkansas boasts will prove vital in the progress of the younger tracksters.

The banked track is different from the one in Iowa's Recreation Building in that it bends to compensate for a smaller turning radius. Erickson said this will be the type of track on which the Hawkeyes will run at the Big Ten meet in Nebraska in March, so it's good for the younger athletes to get used to the feeling now.

"That will help us, because a lot of newcomers haven't ever run on a bank track before," she said. "It's new for them. That will help a lot just to prepare everyone."

Erickson also admitted some of the younger athletes were hit with nerves before last weekend in Lincoln. But after experiencing a "big-time meet," she said, she believes the team will perform better in Fayetteville this weekend.

"It's intimidating to get the first one out of the way," she said. "The mindset will be better for a lot of people, and knowing that we have to do better, push harder, I think we'll go in with a different mentality."

Freshmen won't be the only athletes looking for better performances this weekend. Junior thrower Rachel Curry said she'll be looking for redemption in Arkansas; she didn't qualify for her final three tosses after two poor throws.

"I didn't throw as well as I could've," she said. "I'm hoping to do a lot better."

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