Stack takes step in right direction during outdoor season


Photo: Huiling Wu/Iowa State Daily

Dani Stack, senior in dietetics, has been battling injuries during the fall season but is recovering now. Stack started focusing on outdoor training. 

Stephen Koenigsfeld

As the women’s track and field team entered the halfway point of the outdoor season this weekend, the Mt. SAC Relays were only junior Dani Stack’s first outdoor meet of the season.

Stack has been recovering from a foot injury she sustained during the indoor season. With a healthy balance of rest, training and repetition, Stack was able to complete the women’s 5,000-meter run at the Mt. SAC Relays this weekend.

With a time of 15:58.71, this was not Stack’s fastest 5K time. However, Stack said this is only the beginning of what she wants to accomplish in the outdoor season.

“Overall, it was a good start,” Stack said. “I had to approach the race a little differently than I probably would have if things hadn’t gone wrong. I felt competitive again, I moved really well and engaged in the race a lot more than I had at nationals.”

Coach Corey Ihmels said he thought it was a good start for Stack as well. Her injury put her a little behind in competition this spring, but Ihmels said she is well on her way to accomplishing her goals of an Olympic qualifying time.

“It wasn’t so much the time or the end result we were worried about,” Ihmels said. “It was how she looked getting to that end result. From here on forward, she’s going to be getting better.”

Ihmels said it was a positive sign to see Stack moving in the right direction. Ihmels said Stack looked better than she has in a while, and it was good to see her back.

Assistant coach Travis Hartke said Stack’s performance was a step in the right direction toward her recovery, and her workouts during practice showed what they have been doing in her event at Mt. SAC.

“Obviously she had a rough go in the indoors, but we’ve seen her have really positive workouts and she’s been on the right track,” Hartke said.

Stack will be competing in her second outdoor event, the women’s 10,000-meter run, on Saturday at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. The 10K will truly test Stack mentally as well as physically.

“We haven’t really talked about how we’re going to attack it this weekend, but she’s ready to run close to where she ran last year,” Ihmels said. “We’re just going to take it as it comes, but I really think she’s ready to go.”

After seeing her result from Mt. SAC, Stack said her performance, in her mind, is still up in the air. Stack has not had a lot of performances to gauge herself on in order to properly estimate how she will perform at Stanford this weekend.

Stack said the basics are what she is worried about getting done this weekend.

“I don’t really know where I stand,” Stack said. “I would like to be competitive; I really want to hit the standard. I know it’s not crucial that I hit [the Olympic standard] this weekend, but if I could get it out of the way, I would prefer to do that.”

Having the first outdoor race out of the season out of the way, Stack said it will help in her preparation for the rest of the meets. Stack said the comfort she felt during her race at Mt. SAC should transfer over to the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford this weekend.

With the Drake Relays this weekend, 90 percent of the team will head to Des Moines to compete with some of the biggest stars in track and field.

For Stack and teammates Betsy Saina and Meaghan Nelson, the three athletes will compete in California instead of Des Moines to compete for Olympic qualifying times.