The Iowa State track teams are ready for the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships, with seniors Ada Anderson and David Rotich leading the way for the women's and men's teams, respectively. The two squads will travel to Lincoln, Neb. where the competition will be held at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Friday and Saturday. Both teams are looking to improve, but are battling injuries, illness and a loaded Big 12 field.
"Anybody who places at this meet will have done really, really well," Iowa State head men's track coach Steve Lynn said. "We've got a group of guys that all can place and that's what we're hoping to get when we get over there."
Leading off for the men will be middle distance runner Rotich who has made a strong impact on the team since returning from a hamstring injury. At the Feb. 10 Iowa State Classic he posted a 4:04.79 in the mile, a provisional NCAA Championship qualifying time.
"I would say that it has been a tough season," Rotich said. "It's my last season and I've had a couple of injuries, but overall I'm running pretty well with what I've gone through this season. I'm feeling better."
Lynn said he feels he will get strong performances from Kellen Burl in the 60-meter hurdles, whose season best is 8.06. Distance runners Richard Newton, Brandon Rooney, Dan Taylor and Kiel Uhl also figure to score for the Cyclones.
Taylor recently ran a personal best in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 8:09.29 at the Iowa State Classic. Uhl has also been running well, winning the USA Junior National Cross Country Championship in New York, N.Y. last Sunday.
In the field events, Lynn said he is looking towards Kendall Fogle and Chase Madison to contribute with their efforts in the weight throw. Fogle will go in strong as he posted a season best at the UNI Dome Open last Friday with a toss of 60-5 3/4. Madison goes into the competition with a season best of 60-6 1/2.
Lynn said he would also like to see Cyclone jumper Tony Douglas have a strong meet in both the long jump and the triple jump. Douglas has received honors at previous Big 12 indoor championships, but he has never had a first-place finish.
"Tony has placed high at past conference meets but has never won, so you know he's going to try and get a first," Lynn said.
Multi-event competitor Neil Hines will compete once again in the heptathlon after placing second in the event at the Iowa State Classic. Hines posted a score of 5,395 points at that meet, but he will face tough competition in his event from all around the Big 12.
"We've got some injuries that we've had all year that have been a problem for us," Lynn said. "Every group has got somebody that is currently banged up or has been banged up and that's going to limit us on some of the things we can do. I think the kids are working hard and getting better so we'll see what happens."
Competition will also be strong on the women's side of the championship. ISU senior Ada Anderson will once again be a strong force for the women's track team as she competes in the 800-meter run.
"She (Anderson) would really like to go out winning a Big 12 title, in the 800 and she's got a great shot at it," said women's head track coach Dick Lee. "It will be a heck of a race between her and a couple of other kids in the conference."
Anderson, who was disqualified from the race at the finish line a year ago at the Big 12 indoor meet for impeding another runner, goes into the competition with a seasonal and personal indoor best time of 2:05.92.
Senior Erica Lynn will compete in the pentathlon for the second time this season. Lynn will go into the competition with a seasonal indoor best of 3,729 points, but she said she hopes to improve her score to 3,850.
"I'm very proud of my performance so far this year," Erica Lynn said. "I was gone all first semester (student teaching) and I was scared I would be really far behind. It's been a really good adjustment. I feel like I'm in shape and I feel more confident than I've ever been."
Some of the athletes Lee said he looks to post strong performances include Rebecca Williams in the 60-meter hurdles and Jenny Mockler in the mile. Williams goes into the competition with a season best of 8.38. Mockler, who struggled in the first half of the season, has a 2006 best of 5:07.18. Lee would like to see that time drop.
"Jenny Mockler is one that has been sick most of the indoor season and is finally getting back into shape. We hope she stays healthy the next couple of weeks," Lee said.
Junior Sara Boisen's participation this weekend is still questionable. Boisen was diagnosed with mononucleosis just before the ISU Classic.
"It's a slight case (of mono) so there's an outside chance she could still run at the conference meet," Lee said. "It depends how she's feeling that day. Up to that point, when she got sick, she was having a great season. We are hoping she has a quick recovery from that illness."
In the field events, jumper Jummy Alowonle leads the way for the Cyclones. Alowonle had standout performances Feb. 3 at the UNI Open in both the triple and long jump with leaps of 37-9 1/4 and 19-2 3/4 respectively.
"Jummy is in her senior year and has come out in the last couple weeks in her jumping," Lee said. "She was gone all fall in a co-op for her major, so she's been doing a lot of training. She's been working, getting back into competitive shape."
"Team-wise, we're not going to achieve near what we thought we would have at the beginning of the season or in the fall when we were seeing some girls compete," Lee said. "We're looking for some key individuals who have really good meets and they'll step on the track and do their best but we're leaving half our potential point total back in Ames, unfortunately."
Competition begins on Friday with the multi-events starting at 9:30 a.m. The rest of the events will start at 2 p.m. with the women's 60-meter hurdle prelims and the men's weight throw. The action will conclude Friday night with the men's distance medley relay with an estimated start time of 9 p.m.
The meet will resume Saturday morning with the multi-events at 9:30 a.m. and continue at 1:30 p.m. with the start of the women's triple jump. The running events start at 3 p.m. with the finals of the 60-meter hurdles.