Women's track makes a splash

BY KATRINA DO | MAY 06, 2014 5:00 AM

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Prognosticators had Iowa’s young freshmen stealing the show this outdoor season. They were spot on.

Assistant coach Clive Roberts, who specializes in women’s sprints, hurdles, and relays, said this year’s recruiting class is “the best one” he’s seen in his tenure at Iowa. And this outdoor season has the numbers to prove it.

The women’s 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams highlight almost every meet, consisting mostly of athletes who were applying their trade at the prep level just a year ago.

In back-to-back meets, Iowa’s youth movement captured glamorous titles: first for 4x100 relay team at the Drake Relays and the 4x400 relay team’s title this past weekend under the lights at the Musco Invitational.

“I’m excited about these young ladies; they’ve worked extremely hard,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “Coach Roberts has done a tremendous job getting that group to Iowa and through this season.”

The 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams worked their way into Iowa history during the outdoor season, both setting records earlier this spring.

While this year’s recruiting class may be a reflection of progress for the women’s track and field program, the team’s seniors have also shown significant improvements this year, providing the competition in practice that has vaulted the team back into the Big Ten spotlight.

“We’ve got a great core group to build around, and we’ve got some more outstanding athletes coming next year,” Anderson said. “While this group is doing great things, they should be better in the coming years — many of these school records were from seniors, late in their careers, who progressed and got better.”

Senior Jasmine Simpson, who had her school record broken earlier this spring, is part of the leadership group Anderson has spoken so highly of, being a captain of the team for two seasons.

“I’m not the loudest or most outgoing person, and I thought that those [people] were often associated with those who lead,” Simpson said. “However, I’ve been extremely grateful to have been chosen as a team captain for the past two years and realizing that leading by example is much more important.”

Teammates Carissa Leacock and Zinnia Miller have also broken school records during their senior seasons. Miller moved up to No. 3 on Iowa’s all-time triple jump list in the Musco Invitational.

Roberts said the two seniors have made a substantial improvement since the beginning of their track careers.

“Since my freshman year, I’ve just matured a lot — I’ve built a better relationship with my coach, so we’re able to work well together and get to where I want to be,” Leacock said.

For Leacock, Miller, Simpson, and other seniors on the team, Musco Twilight was the last time they will compete at home.

The squad now looks forward to closing the season with the biggest meets of the year — the Big Ten and national championships. Whether a freshman or senior, the team strives to be more competitive at the Big Ten and national level.

“We have a lot of athletes highly ranked in the Big Ten,” Roberts said. “Overall, as a team, I think things are looking pretty good.”

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