ISU women to focus on racing strategy for track and field meet


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Senior Sam Bluske anchored the women’s distance medley at the Drake Relays on April 26 at Drake Stadium. Iowa State finished the race with the time of 11:28.78.

Chris Wolff

The ISU women’s track and field team will continue to follow the trend of splitting up the weekend and competing in multiple meets.

Athletes will be competing in the Musco Twilight meet in Iowa City, the Jace Lacoste Invitational in Starkville, Mississippi, and the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, California.

The spotlight for this weekend’s slate of meets will be on the Payton Jordan Invitational, where Iowa State’s top distance runners will be competing in the 1,500-meter race.

Sam Bluske, Katy Moen, Bethanie Brown, Crystal Nelson, Maggie Gannon and Perez Rotich are all slated to compete in that event.

This weekend is also the final chance for the team to gain some momentum as the next meet the Cyclones compete in will be the Big 12 Championships.

“We’re just looking for more forward momentum going into the championship season,” Bluske said. “It’s going to be a fun race, something a little different.”

Most of the ISU athletes competing in the 1,500-meter race are more accustomed to longer races like the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter events. However, running a shorter race like the 1,500-meter can be beneficial for the athletes.

“We really want to focus on running smart and taking a tactical approach to the race,” Brown said. “Since I don’t really train for this event — I typically train for longer distances — I don’t really have a set time I’m looking to run. It’s a good chance to run tactically and see how I do in a tactical race like this.”

For much of the season, athletes run all out in an attempt to hit qualifying times, personal bests and school bests. Oftentimes, when it’s a championship race, the pace is slowed as runners try to run more tactically and save up enough energy for a strong kick down the final stretch of a race.

Running a tactical race, like many of the ISU athletes will be doing this weekend, is good practice for the upcoming weeks where they will be running for championships.

“Racing smart is going to be vital come championship season,” Bluske said. “It doesn’t always come down to who’s the fastest; it comes down to who can race the smartest. In some meets, you’re going to be with 10 to 15 other girls who have ran within 1 and 2 seconds of you.”

With a host of Cyclones competing in the same event together, the athletes said it provides a comforting feeling as they know they are all going through the same thing together.

“I think it helps to have teammates there as support and also to gauge where you’re at in a race,” Moen said. “It’s nice to someone is there with you and going through the same thing.”

It also takes off the nerves and tensions the athletes feel prior to a race because they have someone to go through the warm-up process with, Brown said.

Running with teammates can also influence strategy. Depending on the race and who is competing in the race, a group of teammates can work together and control the pace of the race.

“Last year in the 10k at Big 12s, we definitely all worked together as a team to slow the race down the first half, which was a huge advantage to us,” Moen said. “But it depends on the race and who’s in it and how much people are looking towards Iowa State to make the moves.”

This weekend, the goal isn’t necessarily to win the race but instead to get a good lesson in running a tactical race. The Cyclones are hoping that lesson will benefit come championship season when Big 12 titles are on the line.