Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones dominate distance events at Big 12 Championships


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

Iowa State track and field athletes opened their postseason Friday morning at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in Lubbock, Texas. The Cyclones kicked off the day bright and early at the Fuller Track & Field Complex with the 10000m events.

The opening day of competition would be highlighted by Iowa State’s exploits on the track, as it garnered a total of 33 points across both races. The Cyclones also got top performances in the throwing events, as their women’s team ended day one in first place. The Iowa State women currently top the overall team standings with a points haul of 28 heading into the weekend.

2-3 10K double

In the women’s 10000m, the Cyclones had two of their entries finish in the top five, as Dana Feyen and Winrose Chesang garnered second and third place respectively. Both athletes crossed the line after battling Oklahoma State’s Gabby Hentemann, with Chesang breaking her personal best for the event.

Chesang, a senior, ran in strong form throughout the race, as she stuck with the lead pack from the start. Through the halfway mark, Chesang stood in fourth place with a shot at the top spot, but was only able to move up one more spot and finish with the bronze medal.

Nevertheless, the Bomet, Kenya native, ran the best 10000m of her career, as she clocked a new personal best of 34:34.44. The time was nearly 20 seconds better than her previous, as Chesang collected six points for the Cyclones with her effort.

Feyen did one better, as her silver medal performance was also run in a quick time of 34:19.80. Feyen couldn’t hang with Hentemann, as the Oklahoma State athlete kicked for home to clock a time of 34:18.58. Feyen’s mark earned Iowa State eight points, as she placed as the Cyclone women’s top finisher of the day.

Brenna Cohoon and¬†Ashley Tutt earned Iowa State’s next three points, with the pair finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Grace Dickel finished tenth with a time of 37:10.95.

For the Cyclone men, the duo of Ryan Ford and Thomas Pollard led the way, as the pair ran to another 2-3 finishing combination. 

Ford worked his way up from fifth at the start of the race towards the top three, even holding first between 6400m and 7600m. Texas’ Haftu Knight slowly made a comeback, as Ford found himself battling the Longhorn runner down the stretch. Ford’s finishing time of 29:22.99 seemed to be a bit slow by his standards, as his personal best in the 10K is nearly a minute better at 28:34.35, which he recorded earlier this year at the Stanford Invitational.

Pollard faced similar opposition to Ford throughout his race, as the senior All-American also held the lead at one point. With 5600m left, Pollard sat in the pole position with only Ford and Knight behind him.

The battle for first came down to the trio of athletes, as Knight eventually made his move towards the end to take the title. Pollard’s bronze medal time of 29:28.11 was enough to get six more points for the Cyclone men, as he added another Big 12 Championships medal to his collection.

Creazzola’s hammer PR secures bronze

Out in the field, senior hammer thrower Antonella Creazzola was on top of her game at her last Big 12 Championships. Creazzola placed third in the event, as she recorded her third personal best of the season with a throw of 205 feet, 1 inch.

Creazzola entered Friday’s competition with plenty of momentum, as she had previously set a PR of 199-10 to take ninth at the Drake Relays in Des Moines. She came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, nailing her personal best on the first throw of the day.

After scratching in the second round, Creazzola nearly matched her top throw on her third attempt by recording a mark of 204 feet, 10 inches. Her main competition throughout the event came from Oklahoma’s Lauren Jones and Emma Robbins of Kansas State, with the pair finishing 1-2 in the final standings.

Creazzola’s performance on Friday was a major improvement from a year ago, when she finished eighth at the conference championships after going 4-6 and recording her best throw of 188-03. She also now stands just two inches away from the school record, which is Hayli Bozarth’s mark of 207-08 from the 2013 Big 12 Championships.

Emily March also broke her PR in the event, as she placed sixth with a best throw of 184 feet, 10 inches. March, who is usually Iowa State’s No. 1 in the discus, stepped out of her favored event and produced a strong result with two throws over 184 feet.

Her previous personal best of 179-09 occurred over a month ago at the Sun Angel Classic, where she placed eighth. March’s performance also resulted in an addition of three more points to the Cyclone women’s tally.

Willits records PR double in heptathlon

Multi-eventer Sydney Willits started out her first conference heptathlon on Friday, ending day one with a total of 3,014 points across the first four events contested.

Following an opening round 100m hurdles race that saw her collect 860 points from a 14.80 second performance, Willits recorded her first PR of the day in the high jump. On her second round attempt, she raised her best by 0.02 meters to record a jump of 1.64 meters and add 783 points to her total.

Willits capped off her opening day with a top-five performance in the 200m dash, as she finished third in her heat behind current leader Kristine Blazevica. Willits’ time of 25.24 seconds shaved 0.26 off of her previous best, while Blazevica was the only athlete to go under the 25-second mark at 24.76.

Willits will conclude the heptathlon on Saturday by wrapping up with the long jump, javelin and 800m.

The Big 12 Championships resume Saturday at 11 a.m. with the decathlon’s 110m hurdles. Field events are set to kick off at 4 p.m. with the women’s shot put, and running events at 5 p.m. with the women’s 1500m run. Live updates of the meet can be accessed here, as well as being streamed on ESPN+.