Article Originally APpeared HERE
BY JAKE KRZECZOWSKI | APRIL 02, 2009 7:30 AM
As she gradually eases herself into the blocks, each step carefully placed, one can see the precise routine Iowa sophomore Karessa Farley goes through before a race.
It is a process she has repeated over and over, one that has helped guide her to her first NCAA indoor national meet.
The Hawkeye is on her hands and knees, shaking her legs out as she looks out over the track at the army of hurdles before her, waiting to be overcome, yet looming to bring her down.
The look on her face is calm and collected. The words of Iowa assistant coach Clive Roberts come to mind.
“Her best asset is that she is very calm; not much gets to her,” he said.
And nothing seems to.
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On the outside she may seem calm, but underneath that collected exterior is a nervous interior.
“There is definitely a lot more nerves and pressure than at a regular meet,” Farley said about the national meet.
She shakes her legs loose, puts them back and then stretches them again, the muscles in her legs flexing and contracting in the anticipation of the race. Farley has come a long way since her freshman indoor season, which she spent much of injured.
Her coaches have focused this year on keeping her healthy through a rapport between her and the staff.
“The biggest thing we did this year was just get her to the starting line,” Roberts said.
Finally, she is ready. Her hands set, her pink and white spikes firmly planted in the blocks, her body is rigid, waiting to be let loose.
Coming into the preliminaries of the NCAA meet, Farley was seeded 13th, not quite the favorite to make it to the podium.
“She wasn’t expected to get into the finals,” Iowa head coach Layne Anderson said.
A well-timed lean and she had a fourth-place finish, making the finals by .01 of a second.
The burst with which she leaves the starting line is astounding, the stiffness of one moment replaced by the pumping of arms and legs as she propels herself out of the blocks, head down, seeing only the track directly ahead of her.
When speaking to her coaches, it is evident she is not one to take it easy in her training.
“There is always a lot of work to be done, and she’s willing to do it,” Anderson said.
The work has begun to pay off, as Roberts described her progress, saying “she’s probably running a little better than she did at NCAAs right now.”
Farley whizzes by, her shoes a blur of pink and white as she speeds down the track. Earlier in the year, she spoke of focusing on keeping her arms moving, something that has obviously improved as her open hands cut through the stale air.
Her sixth-place finish at the indoor nationals was good enough to be named All-American.
“I didn’t really think about it until I was on the podium,” Farley said. “It felt really good to be up there.”
She also feels as though she has gained more confidence from the experience, realizing she is as good as the best hurdlers in the country. That confidence will be important going into the outdoor portion of the season.
As Farley crosses the finish line, she gives a slight lean before slowing herself.
She takes her bright spikes off and walks back down the track, her training for the day done. Before she is halfway back, Roberts reminds her to pick up the hurdles.
At Iowa, even an All-American has to pick up after herself.