Cyclones regroup for NCAA Qualifier this weekend


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State

Dani Stack (left) and Meaghan Nelson participated in the women’s 5,000-meter run. Stack finished fourth with a time of 15:57.20, and Nelson finished third with a time of 15:51.89.

Isaac Copley

The ISU track and field team will be home again this weekend.

One week after hosting the Big 12 Championships, Iowa State will host an NCAA Qualifier meet this weekend. The events start March 2 at 10 a.m. at Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

The Cyclones will see competition from in-state rivals Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa. Other teams competing March 2 are Arizona, Auburn, Boise State, Houston, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Purdue, Tennessee and UCLA.

The Cyclones are sending athletes to multiple meets this weekend.

A group of distance runners including Dani Stack and Meaghan Nelson will be traveling to Notre Dame in hopes of putting forth a last-stitch effort to qualify for nationals. Ejiro Okoro will join them at Notre Dame, running in the 800-meter event. Iowa State also hopes to qualify a team in the 4×400.

“With the 4×400 relay, Meaghan Nelson in the 5,000-meter, and Ejiro [Okoro] in the 800-meter run, it’s a chance for us to move up the standings on the list to get to nationals,” said ISU coach Corey Ihmels. “As we go outdoors, you want to have a good seed time going into future meets.”

The meet is important for NCAA implications and the outdoor season.

Betsy Saina will not compete at the NCAA Qualifier. The defending indoor national champion in the 5,000-meter run and third-place finisher in the 3,000-meter run, Saina has already qualified for both events.

“For me and the other qualified athletes, we’ve just been taking it easy — it’s kind of a recovery week,” Saina said. “I’m trying to run easy so I can get my legs back under me for nationals coming up in a couple weeks.”

The NCAA Qualifier presents itself as a last opportunity for athletes to improve times before the Championships. Ihmels thinks this past week of training was important for the whole team.

“We’re trying to get back to square one; after this last weekend we had a lot of kids doing a lot of good things for the most part,” Ihmels said. “We’re trying to sure up times and qualify and for the kids that have already qualified, we’re trying to get some rest.”

Christina Hillman and Danielle Frere both qualified for the Championships in the shot put. On the men’s side, Nick Efkamp qualified in the 400-meter and Edward Kemboi made the 800-meter.

The top 16 declared student-athletes in each individual event will be invited to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships; the top 12 declared relay teams will be invited in relay events.

The national meet will be March 8-9 in Fayetteville, Ark.