Three Big Takeaways: Podium finishes for Iowa State after final day of Big 12 Championships


Iowa State junior Katarina Vlahovic competes in the women’s 100m hurdles at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 30. Vlahovic finished fourth in the final, clocking in at 13.56 seconds.

Adarsh Tamma

Iowa State track and field wrapped up the 2022 Big 12 Outdoor Championships with a busy schedule on Sunday, with the Cyclone men’s and women’s teams finishing seventh and fifth respectively. For the Iowa State women, it was their best finish at the conference championships since 2013 when they finished fourth, as well as their highest points total since 2014 (83).

Texas completed its sweep of the indoor and outdoor conference titles, as the Longhorn men and women both won their respective competitions by double digits. The men’s title race saw Texas win with 161 points to Texas Tech’s 127, and the women’s team crown was won with a 172.5-point effort by the Longhorns.

Sunday yielded another strong outing on the track for the Cyclones as the men’s and women’s teams combined to score over 80 points across a multitude of contested events. The Cyclones ended the meet with one conference champion and had ten of their entries finish within the top five of their respective events.

In the field events, Emily March and Jonathan Gannon both ended their weekends on a high note, as the pair each grabbed a podium spot in the discus throw. March finished fourth with a mark of 182 feet, 6 inches, while Gannon scored an eighth place performance by throwing for 166-11 in the third round.

The running events saw more top times, as the Cyclone women’s 4x100m relay team finished seventh in a time of 45.44 seconds. That mark is now the fourth-fastest in Iowa State history, as the quartet of Sydney Willits, Zakiyah Amos, Bria Barnes and Katarina Vlahovic etched their names into the program’s record books.

All-American middle distance runner Nehemia Too added five points to Iowa State’s tally by finishing fourth in the men’s 1500m final. The Bomet, Kenya native worked his way up from seventh at the end of the first lap to within the top five at the tape. He is currently ranked 15th in the NCAA West region, and could advance to the NCAA Preliminary meet in a couple of weeks.

Feyen clinches 5K title

Junior Dana Feyen capped off her weekend in Lubbock, Texas, in strong form, as she won her first Big 12 title after taking gold in the women’s 5000m run on Sunday morning. Feyen’s performance scored a leading 10 points for the Cyclones, as they finished the race with a total of 19.

Feyen’s race was marked by a gradual ascent throughout, as she started off in the middle of the pack in 12th place before working her way up to second place by the 2200m mark. The race eventually came down to a group of four, as Feyen had to contend with teammate Winrose Chesang, Texas’ Isabel Hebner and Lona Latema of Kansas. 

With three quarters of the race done, Feyen maintained her second-place position and was now battling out with Hebner for the gold medal. The pair went virtually stride-for-stride over the back half of the race, with Feyen just beating out her opponent at the line in a time of 16:27.62 to win by just 0.37 seconds.

Feyen’s win meant that Iowa State would hold onto the women’s 5K outdoor title for at least one more year, as her teammate and All-American Cailie Logue won the race at both the 2019 and 2021 championships.

Feyen also joins former national champions Lisa Koll and Betsy Saina as one of four athletes to win the event. Koll, who is the current NCAA record holder in the 10000m, captured the title in both 2009 and 2010, while Saina claimed it in 2011 and 2013.

Both women were also national champions in the 10K, with Koll’s 2010 victory was part of a distance double along with the 5K. Saina won in 2013, recording a time of 33:08.85.

Chesang finshed in fourth place with a final time of 16:43.78 to earn five points for the Cyclones. Junior Madelynn Hill was the next athlete to cross the line in fifth, and clocked a time of 16:59.13 for another four points. Riley Beach took ninth with a time of 17:16.37 to finish just outside of the scoring threshold. 

Sarah Murrow, Ashley Tutt and Brenna Cohoon rounded out Iowa State’s entries by finishing 10th, 12th and 13th respectively. Murrow produced a strong final lap, as she move up five spots and clocked a split time of 1:10.12. The time was the fastest 400m split of any of the athletes in the field, as Murrow improved on her previous split time by nearly 24 seconds.

Vlahovic lowers hurdles PR again

The women’s 100m hurdles was won in convincing fashion, as Texas Tech’s Demisha Roswell raced ahead of the field to win in a meet record time of 12.44 seconds. Roswell, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation in the event, edged out Baylor’s Ackera Nugent by 0.01 seconds.

Iowa State junior Katarina Vlahovic was her team’s top finisher, as the London, Ontario native earned her best performance ever in an individual event at the Big 12 Championships.

Vlahovic’s time of 13.27 seconds shot her up the ranks to No. 3 on Iowa State’s all-time list. The performance was also 0.20 seconds better than her previous top time, as Vlahovic earned the Cyclone women three points for her efforts in what was her first individual final at the conference meet. Her performance was also the third time that she established a new personal best this season, as she ran 13.37 in Saturday’s preliminaries to get to the final.

Kaylyn Hall finished just behind teammate Vlahovic in seventh. Her time of 13.68 seconds was far from her best of 13.29, but nevertheless, she added two more points to the team race and earned a championship medal.

Both Hall and Vlahovic have been in the top 50 of the regional rankings for the hurdles, as they are both currently ranked in the mid to lower 40s. Now they both have a shot at being invited to the West Preliminary meet and extending their 2022 campaigns.

Trio of scorers in 800m

All three of Iowa State qualifiers for the men’s 800m final were in scoring position on Sunday, as Cebastian Gentil, Peter Smith and Darius Kipyego accumulated a total of 17 points for the Cyclones.

The race was won by Texas’ Yusuf Bizimana, who was able to add to his strong sophomore season by taking the title in a time of 1:48.55. Bizimana has been one of the NCAA’s best this season over the half-mile race, having finished fourth at the indoor national championships in March.

The race saw both Kipyego and Smith challenge Bizimana for the gold over the final 100 meters. The Texas runner was able to shift to a higher gear however, as he sprinted ahead within the final 40 meters to claim the title. Kipyego was next across the line in a time of 1:48.83, just holding off Smith by 0.02 seconds.

Gentil, who like Kipyego and Smith also broke his 800m PR earlier in the season, was unable to return to the form that saw him help the Cyclones take victory in the 4x800m at the Drake Relays. His finishing time of 1:58.38 was indicative of the race overall, which was slower than both of Saturday’s preliminary heats. Nevertheless, his three points were another welcome addition to the Cyclone men’s total, as they did not contest any of the sprint or hurdle finals on Saturday.

All three runners, along with Jason Gomez, are ranked within the top-50 of the current NCAA West Preliminary list. Gentil overtook Gomez’ time of 1:47.12 by producing a lightning-quick mark of 1:46.97 at the Bryan Clay Invitational. The quartet have all shown that they have the potential to qualify for the West Preliminary meet, having produced times that rank among the best in the nation.

The Cyclones will continue their postseason in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where they will compete in the NCAA West Preliminaries. The top 48 athletes in individual events, as well as the top 24 teams for relays, will be accepted to participate in each region’s meet. The meet is set to kick off on May 25.