BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | FEBRUARY 19, 2009 7:51 AM
The hurdles event is one of precision. One small mistake can make the difference between first and last place.
Karessa Farley knows this.
Last week at the Iowa State Classic, she was perfect, clearing the 60-meter hurdles with ease en route to an 8.30 finish.
The time earned the Hawkeye sophomore first place, but maybe more importantly, ranks as the best time ever for an Iowa women’s hurdler.
“It felt good,” Farley said. “For some reason, I wasn’t nervous. I was able to go out and ran fast.”
For someone who is described by her coach Layne Anderson as shy and soft-spoken, the record was a big statement.
Born in Bridgetown, Barbados, she came to Iowa upon being offered a scholarship out of Queen’s College High School, where she was named high-school athlete of the year as a senior while also being crowned the 100-meter hurdles champion.
While for her the cold weather has taken some getting used to, part of her decision to come to Iowa was that she felt comfortable with then-coach Victor Houston, also a native of Barbados.
No stranger to big meets, Farley competed in both the Central American and Pan American Junior Games while in high school. She managed to run a 8.46 at the Meyo Invitational before her freshman season at Iowa was cut short by injury.
That time ranked as fifth in school’s history before last weekend.
After redshirting during the outdoor season because of injuries, Farley came into this season with a new mindset based on working harder and keeping track of her health.
“I started to take better care of myself all the time,” she said. “I started to pay more attention to my body.”
Saying this while drying off from a dip in the ice tub, with two more bags of ice in her hand, it was evident that she has stuck with this mentality.
She also has worked with her coaches to focus more on her technique.
“The main thing for me is keeping my arms moving and sprinting between the hurdles,” Farley said.
The new mindset has paid off. The time from this past weekend also provisionally qualified Farley for the NCAA national meet, which Anderson believes she will find herself at eventually, if not this season.
“It’s just a matter of time for Karessa; she should be at the national meet soon,” he said.
By shaving a couple of fractions of a second off her time from the Iowa State Classic, she will be assured a chance to compete at nationals.
The Big Ten championship meet on Feb. 28 will be her last chance to automatically qualify — she will sit out this weekend’s Iowa Invitational in order to rest her legs.
Farley is taking it easy this week by concentrating on light workouts and opting to continue to perfect the technique that can be so difficult. She will, of course, continue with ice baths and training-room sessions.
Farley will need another “rocket start,” as Anderson described the beginning of her race last weekend, in order to better her performance and continue to set records.