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Iowa's track and field squad leaves questions unanswered

BY CODY GOODWIN | JANUARY 31, 2012 7:20 AM

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The past two track and field meets haven't been positive for the women's side of Iowa's track and field program.

A trip to Lincoln, Neb., two weekends ago served as a Big Ten measuring stick for the Hawkeyes, while the Razorback Invitational last weekend was a glimpse of the tops teams in the country.

Prior to each competition, head coach Layne Anderson expressed confidence that his team would perform well. Two years spent heavily recruiting athletes from around the Midwest and diligently training the current athletes were enough for Anderson to say this year's group of Hawkeye tracksters held the most "potential" of any squad in recent memory.

But the Hawkeyes have yet to perform to their potential, as Anderson put it. A disappointing third-place finish in the Adidas Classic and a dismal performance in Fayetteville leaves questions unanswered for the Hawkeyes.

Just what could be the problem?

"People aren't getting the [personal records] they need to be getting. Some performances haven't been the greatest," sprinter Hannah Simonson said. "As a whole, we're not super happy with where we're at."

The team lacks something that could push it from being good to being really good, she said — but exactly what that something is remains unknown.

The junior was able to come up with a few ideas about what's slowing down the Black and Gold. One was the possibility that the younger athletes' inexperience on the big stage is showing. Freshmen Khanishah Williams and Brittany Holst, two promising Iowa athletes, have been solid in practice but haven't reached personal-record heights outside the Recreation Building.

Sophomore sprinter Raven Moore agreed that nerves have played a role.

"We worked hard in the fall season," she said. "But when we face someone else who is also good, we tend to get a little freaked out. So we just need to calm down a bit and tell ourselves we're just as good as — or better than — those we compete against."

Still, Simonson said, inexperience isn't the only factor.

"Some of it is probably not having the fire we need to have going into the meet," she said. "Something a lot of females struggle with, in general, is being competitive. Once we start getting really excited, we'll start seeing good performances."

The fire could have a snowball effect, Simonson said; as each athlete does better, the others will become more excited. This in turn will help the team's cohesion because the athletes will not want to let each other down.

"We have to get our minds right," Moore said. "We need to come together as a team. We're too caught up in our own events and not focusing on us. Just a little distracted."


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