Kemboi and Stack finish track season strong


Photo: Jordan/Iowa State Daily

Edward Kemboi positions himself during the 800-meter run June 8. Kemboi ran in the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Photo: Jordan Maurice/Iowa State Daily

Zach Gourley

Edward Kemboi and Dani Stack electrified the final month of the 2011 ISU outdoor track and field season.

At just 17 years of age, Kemboi, a freshman, placed fifth in the 800-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

The top-eight finish earned him a spot as an All-American in the event, though he participated in it after less than a year of collegiate competition.

“Physically, I was feeling good,” Kemboi said. “But I missed making my move at the 600-meter mark and couldn’t catch up in time. It was a very fast race, and I’m very happy with fifth.”

Kemboi also ran a school record time of 1 minute 46.06 seconds in the NCAA semifinals, breaking David Korir’s 1980 record of 1:46.3.

“He was aggressive and he went after it,” said ISU track and field coach Corey Ihmels after Kemboi ran in the NCAA finals. “That’s going to pay dividends in a couple years when he gets a little stronger, a little older [and] a little more mature.”

Kemboi believes there is even room for improvement, as he is still learning to become an 800-meter runner.

Before coming to Iowa State in January, Kemboi was a 400-meter runner who often practiced at an airstrip near his hometown of Eldoret, Kenya.

“I’m excited about what he can do the next three or four years,” Ihmels said.

Stack, a sophomore, also left the NCAA championships with her first All-American honors in the 10,000-meter run. She earned a fourth-place finish.

Running alongside fellow Cyclone Betsy Saina, Stack flirted with taking the top spot for much of the race.

When Saina dropped out of the race with 2,000 meters remaining, Stack made a move and lead the field with 600 meters to go.

“It was kind of a surreal experience, leading a group of such talented runners,” Stack said.

After a huge final kick by Duke’s Juliet Bottorff that broke the field wide open, Stack held on for fourth, clocking a time of 34:32.38.

Stack also competed in the U.S.A. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Finishing 12th with a time of 33:04.17, Stack was first collegiate runner to cross the finish line.

“It just shows how much work I put in this season,” Stack said. “I knew that I was ready to run faster than I had all season.”