Freshmen filling Hawkeyes' track roster


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The Iowa women’s track and field team is looking a lot bigger and deeper than previous teams, thanks to a group of 23 freshmen this season.

There is no limit to how many athletes can be kept on roster in NCAA women’s track and field, which is something head coach Layne Anderson and his staff have taken advantage of.

“We’ve been recruiting with the mindset to increase our roster from somewhere in the 30s two or three years ago,” Anderson said. “Our goal was to get into the high 50s or even the 60s.”

As of now, there are 55 tracksters on the team, but only nine are seniors or graduate students. Anderson said the Hawkeyes have graduated a lot of athletes but have brought in more to stay youthful.

The players added are not all on scholarship, he said, estimating that about 60 percent of the women on the team are not on scholarship.

With a growing roster, Anderson said, his staff has adapted.

“It’s managing time, space on the track and giving people the time and attention they need to develop their talent,” he said. “We don’t want to have people out there for the sake of having people out there. We want to see them improve and let them get to a point where they can be contributing member of the team.”

One of the freshman, MonTayla Holder has already made contributions to the team, including a fourth-place finish in the 400 meters earlier this month at the Meyo Invitational at Notre Dame.
“Being the two-time state champion in Indiana let me come in here with a positive attitude and let me know I’m not very high behind the collegiate athletes,” Holder said.

For a lot of freshmen, college track is the first time they train year-round.

“First semester was pretty difficult for me, just getting used to getting my schedule and going to practice, going to class,” freshman Lake Kwaza said.  “After a while, I got the hang of it. It’s pretty easy now.”

Holder echoed Kwaza’s thoughts on getting into the routine of a Division I athlete.

“It took awhile. It definitely was harder when we were just conditioning,” she said. “Now that we’ve gotten into meets, everything is falling into place.”

One thing that the freshmen are getting used to is the long road trips. No longer do they travel within a county for a meet but across states.

“It’s such a long journey. You get off the bus or the plane, you’re just like ‘Oh, I have to run’; you’re really not wanting to do anything,” Kwaza said. “Coach does a good job making us shake out right after.”

It’s on these long trips where the rookies have grown closer as a team.

“We’re always having a good time; there’s no dull moment on the girl’s track team,” Holder said. “We’re all very close; we don’t have drama. We bond a lot.”

In the end, it’s all business for Holder and the rest of the young track squad.

“We’re hoping to come out in the next couple years and win a Big Ten championship,” Holder said.

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