Iowa State track and field gears up for NCAA West Preliminaries


Iowa State junior Wesley Kiptoo (left) and redshirt senior Thomas Pollard (right) compete in the 2022 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 25 at Lied Recreation Center.

Adarsh Tamma and Anthony Hanson

Iowa State track and field athletes will be looking to extend their postseasons as 23 Cyclones will compete against some of the nation’s best at the NCAA West Preliminary meet in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

One step away from the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the Cyclones will have 13 men and 10 women competing starting Wednesday. 

The Cyclones had one week of rest from their last outing on the track when they traveled to Lubbock, Texas, for the Big 12 Outdoor Championships. They came away with a handful of top performances, with many of the same athletes set to compete at the regional.

The Iowa State women’s track team is coming off its best conference finish in nine years in Lubbock. In 2021, the Cyclone women sent three entries to the NCAA preliminaries. One year later, double-digit athletes will represent Iowa State on the women’s side. 

Four Cyclone men will compete in the 800m, three of whom are among the top-ten seeds. Cebastian Gentil, Jason Gomez and Darius Kipyego are seeded fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively. Gomez is looking to return to Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive season.

Thomas Pollard will be making his third career appearance at the NCAA West Prelims Wednesday. He will be joined by teammate Ryan Ford in the 10K. 

The reigning Big 12 women’s 5000m champion Dana Feyen will lead the Iowa State women’s hopes in the 10000m. Feyen will be running in her first NCAA track regional after registering a qualifying time of 33:37.10 at the Raleigh Relays in March. 

Feyen will be joined in the 10K by teammate Winrose Chesang, who will also be making her debut at a regional meet in her senior season as a Cyclone. Chesang is currently seeded 33rd in the region with a qualifying time of 34:01.33. Chesang has distance running experience under her belt as she finished third in the event, behind Feyen, at the Big 12 Championships.

In the 3000m steeplechase, Janette Schraft will be making back-to-back appearances at the regional meet. Schraft, who grabbed a bronze medal in the steeplechase at the Big 12 Championships, finished 39th overall in the event at last season’s final meet. She will be running in the third of three heats in Fayetteville and is seeded 11th in her race with a time of 10:18.02.

It’s been a long time coming for senior Zakiyah Amos, who will lead the Cyclones in the women’s 400m dash. The quarter-mile race has been Amos’ primary event in her collegiate career as she has also taken up the responsibility of being in the 4x400m quartet on multiple occasions.

Amos’ seed time of 53.81 seconds is her fastest time in the 400m, which she recorded at the conference meet a couple of weeks ago. Despite not qualifying for the final, Amos lowered her previous top time by 0.89 seconds and went sub-53 for the first time in her career. She will be running in the second of six heats in Arkansas on Thursday.

Katarina Vlahovic and Kaylyn Hall will again lead the front of Iowa State’s hurdles squad, as they have most of the year. The Canadian duo has more than booked their places among the greatest hurdlers in program history, with Hall currently holding the second-fastest time on the program leaderboard (13.22) and Vlahovic at third (13.27).

Both athletes earned their PR and qualifying times at the Big 12 Championships, with Vlahovic coming away with her career-best performance of sixth and a first Big 12 Championship medal. Hall will be performing a hurdles double, as she is set to compete in 400m hurdles. She will be running both events just a couple of hours apart, with the 110m race coming first at approximately 6 p.m.

In the field events, discus school record-holder Emily March looks to make her first trip to the NCAA Championships. March’s top throw this season of 57.88 meters was among the top ten in the regional rankings. She finished 23rd overall in last year’s meet, with the top 12 athletes earning qualifications for the national finals. 

Iowa State will also be represented in the field events by Antonella Creazzola and Sydney Willits in the hammer throw and long jump, respectively. The pair enjoyed successful seasons over the past couple of months, but from completely different perspectives.

Creazzola is in her final season as a Cyclone athlete, having recorded career-best performances at the Drake Relays and Big 12 Championships to earn her place in the regional meet.

Meanwhile, Willits has focused much of her attention on her freshman campaign as a multi-event athlete in the heptathlon and was still able to qualify in the individual long jump event with a best mark of 6.19 meters. She will be competing in the second flight of entries Thursday evening.

Field events will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The men’s first round of running events will start at 6 p.m. the same day. 

Women’s first-round events will begin at the same time the following day. Quarter-final and semi-final events will take place for the men’s athletes at 1 p.m. Friday, with the women set for 1 p.m. Saturday.