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New records, same rankings

BY KATRINA DO | FEBRUARY 25, 2014 5:00 AM

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It’s looking like a season of firsts for the women’s track team. With more than half of the indoor season left, three individuals have broken school records — so why are the Iowa women nowhere to be found in the NCAA national rankings list?

While it seems plausible to assume school records correlate with a great overall team, track and field head coach Layne Anderson addresses other factors that go into a national ranking and a strong overall team.

“If you have a couple school records and nothing going on in other events, then you really have nothing more than a handful of good athletes,” Anderson said.

Each week, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association releases college national rankings. The Hawkeye women have not been featured in the top 100 since 2011, when they were No. 54.

Even as the Iowa women remain toward the bottom of the list, the rankings are often misunderstood. The national rankings are solely based on the team’s athletes who compete at the national championship, and only about 0.8 percent of Division-1 athletes have the opportunity to compete in a national event.

“While there is a national ranking, unless you’re in the top 10, you’re not reflecting on the overall team,” Anderson said.

Additionally, the state of Iowa is not as developed in track and field as other states, such as Oregon and Texas. High school level track in Iowa lacks events like the pole vault, hammer throw, and triple jump — which is more incentive to recruit out of state.

“I hope [the records] are a sign of our program trending upward,” Anderson said. “It’s been two years of recruiting aggressively — we’ve worked hard to bring in the kind of talent that we hope will help us be more competitive with the national level.”

The highest NCAA indoor championship place for the Iowa women’s team was in 1993, when it placed 14th; the team placed third at the Big Ten championships in 2004.

Though the rankings don’t match up with this season’s record breaking, it is not particularly common to see three records beat so early in the season — especially from such young athletes as freshman Brittany Brown and sophomore Lake Kwaza.

If more young women continue to break records, there will be plenty of room for success in the coming years.

At this point, the Iowa women’s track team is headed in the right direction. With continuous development over the next few years, the team may not be far from the top of the national list.

“We’ve just got to continue to develop this group but at the same time add more good people in,” Anderson said. “For now, the good news is we’ve got a great, young group doing some exciting things.”


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