ISU women’s track and field to increase intensity at Bill Bergan Invitational


Photo: Jessica Langr/Iowa State Daily

Samantha Bluske (left), Crystal Nelson, (middle), and Katy Moen (right) run the women’s 5,000-meter run on Feb. 9 in Lied Recreation at the Iowa State Classic. The three runners finished 10-12th place in the race.

Chris Wolff

After using the first two meets of the season as “rust-busters”, the ISU women’s track and field team is now revving up its competition level to host the annual Bill Bergan Invitational meet.

Earlier meets this season have been lower-intensity meets, allowing athletes that competed in both cross-country and track to rest after the long cross-country season. The early season also focused on heavy training, preparing the athletes for late-season meets.

But now, after a few meets under the teams belt, the Cyclones are getting closer to “going all out.”

“I’m running all of my top girls that are not redshirting, and so this is the first time, for a lot of them, that they have raced this season, or certainly the first time they have raced sort of their marquee events,” said ISU assistant coach Andrea Grove-McDonough, who works with the women’s middle and long distance runners.

One of those athletes who will make their season debut is All-American Ejiro Okoro. After sitting out the previous two meets, Okoro will be competing in the 800m, the event that she earned her All-American status in last season.

“Personally, I just want to get after it. Just see how well I do, stay motivated and just keep trusting that what I am doing is working,” Okoro said of her debut.

As the team gets into a more competitive stage of their schedule, they will also become more result-oriented than in earlier meets this season. After the “rust-buster” meets, and weeks of hard training, the Cyclones are getting close to where they want to be at this point in the season.

“Just by watching everybody’s training, I think it’s been going really well. People have been really strong in workouts and a lot of girls have really stepped up,” said Samantha Bluske, a senior distance runner.

Grove-McDonough expects the team to be more intense and competitive than the earlier season meets, as they close in on the Big 12 indoor championships, which are about a month away.

“There is certainly a lot more intensity coming from me this weekend, so I have a feeling that that will make a difference for the athletes,” Grove-McDonough said. “I need to see what they have this weekend … and then keep building on it.”

Grove-McDonough noted that because there is no longer a last-chance qualifying meet, the athletes need to begin working towards NCAA qualifying times earlier in the season than they would have in years past.

With that in mind, the meet will feature stiff competition from teams like Texas — who is ranked second in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association national rankings this week — to push the Cyclones to faster times. Also in attendance will be Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas State and South Dakota.

“It’s a home track meet, so anything that we do on our home track, we’re pretty excited about,” Okoro said.