A new culture for women's track

BY KATRINA DO | MAY 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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After two years of persistent recruiting, signs point to the Iowa women’s track and field program trending upward.

The team saw significant improvements in the early indoor season, and the Hawks continue to build upon their success as the outdoor season comes to a close.

The 2013 recruiting class marked the beginning of a reinvention. The freshmen proved to be a key component in the team’s overall development this year, which indicates the importance of recruiting.

“We started to create a culture once we got some talented athletes,” recruiting director and assistant coach Clive Roberts said. “It was just a change in mindset first and foremost.”

A number of freshmen have won event titles and beaten school records — usually, it’s the seniors late in their careers who set Iowa records.

Freshman Alexis Hernandez was part of quartet that made up the women’s 4x100-meter relay team at the Drake Relays. The squad of three freshmen and one sophomore won the title and rewrote the school record book.  

“I knew we had big goals of going to the Drake Relays and breaking this school record,” Hernandez said. “I’m proud of all of us and proud that I can be a part of this team.”

The future looks hopeful for the women’s program, because the young team members have roughly three more years to continue to progress.

“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 and more competitive at the national level,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “It’s a testament to Coach Roberts and the young ladies.”

Along with Hernandez and the 4x100 relay team, Katharina Trost, freshman from Germany, came in with high expectations and proved to live up to them.

Earlier this year, Trost placed second in the women’s 800-meter special, and her time ranks fourth all-time at Iowa.

For international recruits such as Trost, the recruitment process is slightly different from domestic recruiting. The international process generally includes finding an athlete’s credentials on the Internet and contacting them via email or Skype. Sometimes, the international athletes will visit Iowa.

But that wasn’t the case for Trost. Anderson flew to Germany to persuade the recruit to come to Iowa City.

“It’s a vastly different opportunity here; the resources are tremendous, both athletic and academic,” Anderson said. “Katharina, for all her successes, did not have the facilities or resources at home.”

Along with the talented recruiting class, raising the levels of expectation also plays an important role, Roberts said.

While many recruits — both international and domestic — come in with high expectations and credentials, many have proven themselves over the course of their careers at Iowa.

Junior Annemie Smith had a big breakthrough this season with some strong throwing performances, as have seniors Ashlyn Gulvas and Jasmine Simpson.

These breakthrough performances are examples of hard work paying off, which goes back to the new culture the team has created.

“Regardless of what we’ve done yesterday, or last week, no one really cares about that — we’re just focused on being the best version of ourselves,” Roberts said. “What we’ve been doing is working, and we’ve got to keep pressing on.”

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