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Hawk tracksters to head to Big Ten championships in Ohio

BY MARIO WILLIAMS and COURTNEY BAUMANN | FEBRUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Big Ten indoor track and field meet is finally here, beginning in Geneva, Ohio, today.

The team has looked forward to the meet for some time, and it comes a week after a strong Hawkeye performance at the Alex Wilson Invitational at Notre Dame.

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody said the energy in practice has shifted, and he looks forward to building on last weekend’s performances.

“Coming off a great weekend, the spirits are high, everyone knows it’s Big Ten week, and it’s time to show up and really get after it,” Woody said. “Everyone seems real focused and just still feeling relaxed and having fun.”

Although the conference meet is Iowa’s biggest yet, he doesn’t want his athletes to over-think.

“Everyone knows it’s an important meet, but I don’t want them to take it as something that’s bigger than themselves,” Woody said. “They’re ready to go, and they’re just focused on going out there to execute their performances on the field and track.”

This season, the squad has competed in various competitive settings. Woody hopes that those meets improve his athletes’ performances, and he believes they accomplished just that.

“I feel like we’re really heading in the right direction at the right time,” he said. “Each meet, we’ve gotten better, and we’ve been progressing and building toward the Big Ten championships, which is what you want to do every year.”

On the distance side, the athletes did not compete last weekend, which gave them more time to train. Woody believes the circumstances were critical for the distance runners.

“I think distance running is a little bit different,” he said. “They don’t need quite as many races to get ready. They need more recovery and just keep things moving in the right direction.”

Sophomore Elexis Guster, who took third in the women’s 400 at the conference meet last season, said she feels more confident this time around. This weekend she’ll compete in women’s 400 and also in the 1,600-meter relay.

“I know I’m in better shape than last year,” she said. “I’ve ran against some of the competition, so I kind of know what to expect. I know I’m prepared.”

This season’s workouts has gave her the confidence to do well at the Big Tens, Guster said.

“I’ve been killing workouts back-to-back-to-back,” she said. “Even the hardest workouts my coach can think of, I’ve done it, and walked away from it.”

Her coach, Clive Roberts, has high expectations for the short-sprints runners and believes they’re prepared for the tough competition they will face.

“The Big Ten is a tough conference,” Roberts said. “I think my group is ready. I think they’re focused, ready to compete, and ready to get after it. If we just do the things that we’ve been doing, we’ll be perfectly fine.

“This is a group that’s been tested against some of the best, and I know they’re ready.”

Follow @cbomb12 and @marioxwilliams for news, updates, and analysis of the Iowa track and field team.


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