BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | FEBRUARY 20, 2009 7:34 AM
After spending more than a month on the road, the Iowa women’s track and field team will return home for today’s Iowa Invitational, set to begin at 4 p.m. in the Recreation Building.
Among the Hawkeyes’ competition this afternoon will be Bradley, Coe, Simpson, Augustana, and North Central College.
The home meet follows some dynamic Hawkeye performances last weekend at the Iowa State Classic, in which three members of the team earned NCAA provisional marks in their events.
But today’s meet in Iowa City is being looked at as a segue for the Hawkeyes.
“This weekend will be kind of a tune-up,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “It will be nice to be in town to get rested for the Big Ten championships.”
Several athletes will rest for the championships by not competing at all, including sophomore Karessa Farley and senior Racheal Marchand, two of the provisional qualifiers.
“I will just rest for the Big Tens and then get ready to compete,” Farley said.
Others will be questionable for the meet, and Anderson said the coaches will “play it by ear before the meet.”
The Hawks, however, are not blowing off the meet. This is the last chance at a solid race before the team heads to Bloomington, Ind., for the Big Ten meet, Feb. 28.
“If we didn’t think the meet was important, we wouldn’t be competing and we wouldn’t have it on our schedule,” Anderson said.
Today will also be a prime opportunity for some of the younger members to get a chance to compete.
With freshmen Betsy Flood, Mckenzie Melander, Lindsay Anderson, and Nicole Erickson and sophomore Bethany Praska running well in recent weeks, this meet will provide another chance at continued improvement.
It will also give such athletes as freshmen Josie Takes, Jackie Laesch, Jordan Williams, Brittany Dlhy, and Danielle Berndt a chance to get valuable experience.
“Everybody competing has a chance to step up,” said Layne Anderson, and he expects his younger athletes to take advantage of an opportunity to score some points.
Last weekend’s meet, while highlighted by the provisional qualifiers, had several personal bests and outstanding races, something the team hopes to follow up on.
Among the top performers were Praska in the 600 meters, senior Renee White in the triple jump and hurdles, junior Rhonda-Kaye Trusty in the 200 meters and 60 meters, and Lindsay Anderson in the 3,000 meters.
With the team healthy, Coach Anderson feels good about the squad as the Big Tens approach.
“If you can’t get up for that competition, then you shouldn’t be in the sport,” he said. “That’s what we prepare for, and that’s what we train for.”