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Distance Track Hawks set for Big Tens after intense workout

BY MARIO WILLIAMS | FEBRUARY 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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It’s Big Ten championship season, and the distance runners on Iowa’s track and field team are ready for the challenge.

While the sprinters, jumpers, hurdles, and throwers competed at the last indoor meet of the season in Norte Dame on Feb. 21, the distance athletes took the weekend off to train and rest to gear up for the Big Ten meet starting Friday in Geneva, Ohio.

“Our time off was great,” Iowa head coach Layne Anderson said. “We got some fantastic workouts in, we did exactly what we needed, we ran fast, and we looked good.”

Tuning a few things up was certainly Anderson’s goal. The squad’s workout was one of its most intense yet, which consisted of a number of tempo and recovery runs.

“We heated our tires up and primed the engine,” he said.

Not participating at the Alex Wilson Invitational will be vital to the athletes’ performance this weekend, Anerson said.

The coach had a few different outlooks on what he plans to see this weekend in Ohio.

“We need to free ourselves from our previous best-time performances,” Anderson said. “We’re not limiting ourselves, and we’re setting a path for success.”

This indoor season has sure been filled with best-time performances from a number of distance runners, most notably seniors Kevin Lewis and Ben Witt, along with freshmen Michael Melchert and Marta Bote Gonzalez.

Lewis became the fastest Hawkeye ever in the men’s 5,000 meters at the Iowa State Classic. He finished fourth to cross the line at 13:43.70, and his time is ranked first in the conference.

Melchert and Bote Gonzalez both snatched titles in the 3,000 meters races, earning personal bests along the way.

To be able to carry those performances to Big Tens, the athletes, much like their coach, believe the time off was imperative.

“It is necessary to get some good practices done,” Bote Gonzalez said. “I can feel I’m ready for the competition.”

Melchert said the energy during practice has changed closer to the conference meet and believes that energy will help carry the momentum going into Big Tens.

“It was good to freshen up for Big Tens,” he said. “Going into Big Tens, we feel very confident and the vibe during workouts is very serious and very synchronized.”

Witt and Lewis have both performed in competitive settings such as the Big Tens a number of times. With this marking their last indoor conference meet in Black and Gold, the seniors are trying to prep their younger teammates based on experience.

“It seems crazy that this will be my 11th Big Ten championship event,” Witt said. “One of the biggest things that [former Iowa head coach Larry Wieczorek] used to tell us when he was here is that, ‘You know that the training has been going well, you know that you’re ready to run well, it’s just a matter of how well.’

“That was one of the things that helped me, and that’s one of the things I’ll tell some of the younger guys.”

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


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