Cyclones’ women’s track to split for weekend meets, head across country


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Maggie Gannon, junior, finished fourth during the women’s 1-mile run. Gannon was a part of the Big 12 indoor track and field finals, and finished with a time of 4:43.73.

Chris Wolff

Once again, the ISU women’s track team will be splitting up for a number of different meets this weekend. A group of middle-distance and distance runners will be heading out west to California to compete in the Mt. Sac Relays.

The sprinters will be splitting up between the Kansas Relays and the Louisiana State Alumni Gold meet, and athletes competing in field events will also head to Louisiana State with some of the sprinters.

This will be the second time members of the ISU women’s track team have headed to California for competition this outdoor season with one more trip to California on the schedule remaining.

“Just going out to California, the weather is always nice, there’s good heats and good competition,” Maggie Gannon, who will be running the 1500-meter, said. “The goal is always to run fast, compete well in my heat and hopefully hit a mark that will make regionals.”

Also competing at the Mt. Sac Relays will be a trio of Cyclones running the 10,000-meter run — Katy Moen, Bethanie Brown and Sam Bluske — among others.

While many of the ISU women’s track athletes have already qualified for the regional meet, now is a time for athletes who haven’t yet qualified to make their last pushes at hitting a qualifying time.

For others, the goal is to continue progressing and pushing for even better times.

“Just working on race tactics and getting ready because the ultimate goal is the regional meet and getting to the NCAAs,” Gannon said. “So, I’m approaching each race like I would a regional race and trying to put myself in good position.”

Ese Okoro will be heading to Louisiana State where she looks to continue her impressive outdoor season.

The senior’s bread and butter event has been the 400-meter hurdles, in which she has run some of the fastest times in the nation.

Ese’s twin sister, Ejiro Okoro, will be sitting out this weekend again, having yet to make her outdoor debut this season.

Ejiro ran deep into the indoor season, as she competed in the NCAA Indoor Championship, and is also coming off a slight injury she sustained just before the NCAA Indoor Championship.

Also sitting out this weekend will be Christina Hillman, who won a national championship in the shot put event at the NCAA Indoor Championship event.

Hillman also has yet to compete since winning that championship and is unsure of when she will make her outdoor season debut.

Iowa State’s coaching staff has made it fairly common to rest some of its top athletes, even deep into the season, so that they can continually train without having to rest up for lower caliber meets.

“He has his reasons,” Hillman said of ISU multi-event coach Fletcher Brook’s decision to not have Hillman compete. “I’m not nagging him about it because I know the reasoning behind it, but I am letting him know that I do want to compete. I’m a competitor, so I always want to compete, but I understand why I’m not.”

Hillman has been working on her technique during her break from competition, which she says is her biggest issue when it comes to the shot put.

“We’ve been working on technique a lot and doing weights as well, but my technique is where I struggle the most, so we’ve really been focusing on that,” Hillman said.

While Hillman said she was unsure of when she would make her outdoor season debut, she said she thinks it will be before the conference tournament.

The athletes who will be competing this weekend say they are making the most of the meets left on the schedule as they work toward the regional meet.

“I think at this point in the season, especially being more mid-distance, I’m just using every opportunity to go out on the track and run hard, and we got a couple good meets coming up after this week,” Gannon said. “Most of the women who will run at the regional meet have already ran times for that, so at this point we’re just trying to improve on those times.”