For those traveling to South Bend, bigger track will be beneficial


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As a final preparation for the Big Ten indoor meet, members of the Iowa track and field will travel to South Bend, Indiana, for the Alex Wilson Invitational.

With the Big Tens quickly approaching, not every Hawkeye will make the trip to Notre Dame. In order to make sure everyone is fresh and ready to go for the Big Tens on Feb. 27-28, long-distance runners and throwers will stay in Iowa City.

“Some of the distance runners will rest and just kind of get ready for the Big Ten meet, and some of our field event athletes are going to rest up, too,” Director of Track and Field Joey Woody said.

“We’ll take more of our sprinters and 400 [meter] runners who just need another race to tune up.”

For the sprint groups, running on Notre Dame’s track will be helpful in preparing for the Big Ten meet. At one-fifth of a mile, Notre Dame has one of the largest indoor tracks in the country. The track is about 20 meters longer than the one the Hawkeyes will run on at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, for the Big Tens.

Sophomore Mahnee Watts said the larger track would allow her and her teammates to open up more during their races.

“It’s weird running an 800 race on a 200 track. It’s shorter, and there’s not really enough room to move,” the Bettendorf native said. “But now being on a 300 track, it’s a lot bigger. Heading to Notre Dame is just an awesome opportunity to go and run on a 300 track and feel it out before Big Tens.”

Watts also said the extended track will benefit other races as well, such as the 1,600-meter relay and longer races, because the runners will have the ability to open up more.

Along with the advantage of running on a longer track, others see the upcoming meet as one last opportunity to put up a better time and possibly personal bests.

Elexis Guster, who placed third at last year’s Big Ten indoor meet in the 400, would like to see a decrease in her time at Notre Dame in hopes that it will transfer to the conference tournament.

“My fastest 400 is [53.92], so I’m trying to see if I can run a low 53,” the sophomore said. “Then when Big Tens come, hopefully, I can run a 52. So that extra meet just helps us to get out there and hopefully qualify for nationals.”

For the third weekend in a row, Iowa will be up against tough competition. Seven other Big Ten teams will be at the Wilson Invitational — Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, and Michigan State, as well as top-ranked teams Illinois, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Track powerhouses Arkansas, Texas, and Florida State will also be in attendance.

“The competition level is very high quality, and even though it’s not the exact same teams, it’s going to be similar intensities to the race paces that the team saw in Arkansas,” mid-distance and relays coach Jason Wakenight said. “I also think that going there will get people into the mentality that they need to compete at a championship level in a championship atmosphere.

“When we get to the Big Ten meet, it won’t be anything they’re not used to.”

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

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