ISU men’s track and field works to constantly improve, readies for LSU


Jen Hao Wong/Iowa State Daily

Junior Ivan Tamba runs the 100m during the Holiday Classic on Dec. 6 at Lied Recreation Center.

Kyle Kubiak

The unspoken motto for the ISU men’s track and field team’s season has stayed consistent all year: “improve every day.”

Three athletes in particular are starting to see that mindset come to life due to this year’s new coaching staff. They are hoping the hard work and improvement will continue during this weekend’s competition in Baton Rouge, La., at the Louisiana State Alumni Gold meet.

“The preparation we have done in the indoor up to this point has really translated well into the outdoor. I’m excited to see all of these guys continue to improve and get stronger,” said ISU assistant coach Glenn Smith.

Junior sprinter Ivan Tamba has been one of the athletes who has been adamant since day one on how much stronger and healthier he feels due to this new staff. The focus toward strength and small improvements every day was something he said from the start of the year would end up paying off later.

Tamba has posted a personal record in two of his four meets he has competed in so far this outdoor season.

“The start of the outdoor season is going well. The times I’m seeing are pretty promising,” Tamba said. “I’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement in myself from indoor to out.”

Smith has seen the growth he was hoping Tamba would achieve come together, too.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Tamba keep improving week by week,” Smith said.

Besides the new training methods and the consistent motto of improving each day, Tamba has also seen a change that has helped not just the team overall but also himself individually.

“Last year we emphasized so much on times and our own performances. This year, to be honest, we don’t really care. We’re just having fun,” Tamba said. “The day before a meet, we do anything and everything besides thinking about track. It’s when I get in the blocks that I think about track, and it’s still just about having fun.”

Another ISU athlete who has seen a big jump from the indoor season to the outdoor season is Derek Jones, freshman hurdler and sprinter.

“I feel very lucky to be feeling this good and strong already in the season,” Jones said. “It’s been a big difference, but I’m happy where I’m at and now I just want to go out this weekend and get faster.”

Jones’ teammates and coaches see nothing but big things and more improvement out of the freshman in the rest of this season that will carry over into his career beyond this year.

“I’m very pleased with the hurdlers and their body of work so far this season, but especially Derek Jones. He is an extremely adaptable and strong hurdler,” Smith said. “He is a versatile guy who can hurdle with both legs and easily get over them due to his height.”

Senior Ryan Sander also spoke on the quick improvements and lessons he has learned in his final year with the Cyclones.

“I learned a lot in the first couple months here, just as much as I learned in the first three years I was here,” Sander said.

He has solidified himself throughout his career at Iowa State in the 60-meter hurdles with fairly consistent times, which is only an indoor season race. This year, he has really been focusing on improving his 110-meter hurdles for his last outdoor season.

“I’ve always struggled with the 110 hurdles, so I’ve just been continuing to work on them a lot to improve,” Sander said. “The main thing I have been focusing on is the last couple hurdles, just making those stronger to post a fast time.”

Sander is hoping the hard work will show this weekend as he will be competing against some of the best hurdlers in the nation in Baton Rouge.

“Last year at this meet, the world record and NCAA champion in the hurdles was there so I’m excited for that competition,” Sander said. “I’m looking to run a personal best against the best this weekend.”

Junior Edward Kemboi will be the lone athlete not competing in Louisiana this weekend as he will be heading to Walnut, Calif. for the Mt. Sac Relays to be in the loaded field for the 800-meter run.