New coaching staff, training methods have led to early season success


Courtesy of ISU Athletics

Women’s distance coach Andrea Grove-McDonough talks with middle distance assistant Will Palmer.

Chris Wolff

A new coaching staff for the ISU track and field program has brought a number of changes this season. The staff, led by five-time national champion coach Martin Smith, has brought a new energy to the squad, as well as new training methods and early season success.

The staff, currently in its first year at Iowa State, has proven to have the team heading in the right direction as 42 athletes have set personal records up to this point in the season, with multiple athletes setting personal records and then resetting their personal records again.

This year’s coaching staff includes Andrea Grove-McDonough, who previously turned Connecticut into a nationally-ranked program. She has been the ISU women’s cross country team and will specialize in women’s middle and long distance events, where this year’s team has excelled so far. 

“Just having [Grove-McDonough] around helped a lot of us gain a confidence that we never had before, you can just tell that she has so much faith in us as athletes and she wants the very best for us,” said ISU redshirt senior Sam Bluske.

The coaching staff seems to have won over the trust and respect of the athletes in a relatively short amount of time. Many of the women’s distance athletes credit Grove-McDonough and assistant coach Will Palmer for their success so far.

“I think we owe a lot of that credit to coach McDonough, she’s been making us work really hard, but also pays attention to how we are feeling,” said Bethanie Brown. “She can push us to our limits, but still doesn’t over work us.”

The staff has also seemingly reinvigorated the program. With a new staff, headed by a five-time national championship coach, expectations for the program have been raised.

The heightened expectations have had positive impacts in the staff’s first year.

“I think a lot of us this year are coming in with a new, refreshed attitude toward running with the new staff,” said Katy Moen, a redshirt junior who set a personal record in the 3,000-meter run this past weekend. “Changes motivate people, so I think that’s a big factor.”

Last weekend alone, ISU athletes set five personal records, and the distance medley relay team broke the school record in the event. The athletes say new training methods are a major reason for the personal gains they have been able to meet.

Bluske said in years past, they have focused more on volume training and less on the intensity of the training. This year, the volume has been dialed back a little bit, but the workouts have become more intense, which seems to have benefited the team so far.

Another area where the Cyclones have made huge gains is in the field events, which are coached primarily by Fletcher Brooks, associate head coach.

Kelly McCoy, a redshirt junior high jumper, and Christina Hillman, a junior thrower, have both credited Brooks’ training regimen as the key to their early season success.

On top of everything, the new coaching staff has brought a new energy to the program and that has invigorated and motivated the team for bigger and better things.

That, paired with the new training methods the team has instituted, has resulted in a lot of early season success and excitement for the direction the team is heading.

“The energy that the coaches bring is something that’s really motivating to everyone,” said Maggie Gannon, redshirt junior distance runner. “[The coaches] do a really good job of being specific with us and what our role is on the team.”