Iowa's track stars take much-needed break before conference championships

BY CODY GOODWIN | MAY 04, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Iowa track program has gone through five long weeks.

The outdoor season began for most of the tracksters the day after the Big Ten indoor championships on the weekend of Feb. 25. Both the women's and men's track teams have been preparing for their outdoor campaigns at Cretzmeyer Track since.

The competition season began six weeks ago, starting with the Arkansas Invitational on March 30-31 in Fayetteville, Ark. The next four weeks put the Hawkeyes through a rigorous schedule, demanding they bring their best each weekend in order to compete against their top-notch competition.

But today — when Iowa is scheduled to travel to Cedar Falls to compete in the Northern Iowa Messersmith Invitational — serves as more of a break for some of the bigger names in the Hawkeye track program.

It comes at a great time, too, high jumper Graham Valdes said. The Big Ten championships will begin next week in Madison, Wis.

"We've had a lot of competitions this outdoor season," Valdes said. "[Some of the athletes] have been looking forward to this break, and then we'll bring it at Big Tens."

The weekend of rest is much needed — the men's team is preparing to defend last year's conference title; they scored 125.5 points en route to their first-place finish.

The Iowa women's track team is much improved from a year ago, when it finished in eighth place, scoring 59 points in the process.

The preliminary heat sheets for the Messersmith Invitational list only 13 Hawkeyes for today's competition — only discus thrower Andrew Carmen is slated to compete for the men's squad.

The women's team is littered with athletes who have been competing all year, including Kelsey Mims, Victoria Sack, Brooke Eilers, Carisa Leacock, and Annemie Smith. Freshman standout Kayla Beattie will also compete this weekend after having seen limited time because of an injury she has nursed for most of the semester.

This helps prove Iowa's determination to enter Madison with rested athletes and complete focus.

"Nobody's going to hand it to you," hurdler Dan Davis said. "We have a team that, if we put the pieces together, could win another Big Ten championship."

The time off will also give some athletes time to overcome injuries. Drake Relays triple-jump champion Troy Doris has fought through an injured patella for the last two weeks in hopes of getting back his indoor form that allowed him to place fourth at the NCAAs.

Doris has had tape wrapped around the muscles surrounding his knee to choke the muscles and allow him to compete without having to worry about the injury.

This weekend off, he said, will be good in terms of his rehab routine and his preparation for next weekend's conference championships.

"It'll help boost me a little bit, but once it's over, we've got to get back to reality," the senior said. "We've got to work."

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