Women are making an impact for track and field


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AMES — Even with 12 first-place finishes — half of which came from athletes in his events — Iowa women’s sprints and hurdles coach Clive Roberts was not completely satisfied with the way things went Jan. 24. 

Jahisha Thomas, Lake Kwaza, Elexis Guster, Mahnee Watts, and MonTayla Holder all took home top honors in the 60-meter hurdles, 60 meters, 200 meters, 600, and 800, respectively.  The women’s 1,600-relay team of Guster, Watts, Holder, and Kwaza also placed first.

“It was just a good day,” Roberts said. “They came in knowing that they’re a good group.”

However, the six-year associate head coach had hoped for more.

“One of the messages I had for them was that I don’t want them to come down to the level of their competition, and I kind of thought some of them did,” he said. “Even though a win is a win and we’re happy for that, we’ve got our sights set on bigger things like the Big Ten championship and the national championship.”

Although the goals set are high, they are not unreasonable. Holder ranks 10th in the nation in the 600 and 25th in the 800, while the relay team stands at No. 27, and Kwaza holds the No. 28 spot.
 All four times are within the top four of the Big Ten. Holder’s 600 time is first.

Even though Roberts sees room for improvement, director of track and field Joey Woody was happy with how things went at the Big Four Duals.

“We’ve got some heavy hitters up there on the top with MonTayla, Elexis, and Lake,” he said. “Just to see them do what they did today is a good sign of things to come.”

Holder snagged her third and fourth firsts this season after being named Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week. The junior earned the accolade after winning the 600 and placing first with her teammates in the 1,600 relay.

Before Jan. 24, Holder had never run the 800 in college.

“[Holder] is having one of those seasons so far that she’s showing that she’s going to do some big things,” Woody said. “We might have some trouble figuring out which event to put her in because she’s good for anything from the 400 to the 800 now. It’s a good sign to see her really just compete. It shows what kind of competitor she is, that it doesn’t matter what event she’s running, she’s going to give it her all and really compete to win.”

Underclassmen are also stepping up and starting to earn points for the team.

After an average showing in the 60-meter hurdles at the team’s first meet Jan. 10, Thomas captured her first college win in Ames.

The freshman said the team’s confidence increased tremendously over the first two meets of the season.

“With everyone finishing so well, it only inspires you to do better. When you see people finishing second, first, second, first, you want to be up with them,” Thomas said. “You don’t want to let the team down. It only inspires you to do well and put your all on the track.”

Follow @cbomb12 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis on the Iowa track and field team.

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