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Beginning of the end for the track and field team

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | MAY 15, 2015 5:00 AM

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As finals week comes to a close, finals weekend is just getting started for the track and field team.
The Hawkeyes have made the trip to East Lansing, Michigan, and are set to begin competition today through May 17 at the Big Ten Championships.

Six Iowa athletes rank first in the Big Ten in their events — Vinnie Saucer Jr. (100-meter), Lake Kwaza (100-meter), Brittany Brown (200-meter), Aaron Mallett (110-meter hurdles), Jahisha Thomas (long jump), and Klyvens Delauney (triple jump) — along with 11 others being ranked in the top five. Additionally, the men’s and women’s 4x100-meter relays and the men’s 4x400-meter relay are also in the top five. 

Among those highly ranked for Iowa are six Hawkeyes who are unwilling to give something up — their Big Ten titles from the 2014 season.

Saucer and Keith Brown were both a part of the winning men’s 400-meter relay team last season, and all four from the women’s 400-meter relay return as well — Kwaza, Brown, Elexis Guster, and MonTayla Holder. Guster will also have the chance to reclaim the gold she won last year in the 400 meters.

Although they try to block it out of their minds, there is a large amount of pressure felt by the athletes to duplicate their performances.

Holder, a junior, believes there is even more pressure than normal on her event group.

“I believe there’s a lot of pressure on us because we have all four girls returning on the relay, so nothing has changed,” the Indianapolis native said. “We also have not competed as well as we would like thus far, so the pressure is definitely on.”

The Iowa coaches have been trying to ease the pressure by telling them to take things one at a time. Rather than worrying about the result, they hope to get the athletes to think about what is immediately in front of them.

“In order to make the finals, they have to execute their first races,” Director of Track and Field Joey Woody said. “They can’t get too far ahead of themselves. They have to focus on the first round first and do what they’ve been doing all year.”

Focusing on preliminaries before worrying about the finals will also help the athletes stay intense and not become lax.

Competition will be fierce at the conference meet, and the Hawkeyes know it.

“Everyone is going to be out for our blood, and we shouldn’t think that it is going to be given to us,” Guster said. “We will actually have to fight to win this time to win.”

Although Woody would like to see his athletes repeat their titles, he would rather see his team come together as a whole.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the whole team come together and compete at a high level,” Woody said. “It’s exciting at this time of the year when you get to the championship meet and finally get to see the head-to-head competition.

“The men and the women really feed off of each other, and if one team gets going, then some really good things could happen for the both of them.”

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


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