The final hurdle


Photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Kianna Elahi will be participating in the 400-meter hurdles June 8 at Drake University.

Darrin Cline

Kianna Elahi has been a high school state champion and a Big 12 conference champion. She now has the opportunity to showcase her talents on the national stage.

Elahi, a junior from Omaha, has established herself as one of the premier performers for the Iowa State women’s track team. The hurdler will be making her second appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held from June 8 to June 11.

Despite her strong performance as a relay runner, Elahi has performed the strongest in individual events. She has earned several honors, including 2010 Big 12 Outdoor champion in the 400-meter hurdles, All-Big 12 Indoor selection and All-Big 12 Outdoor selection. She also holds the ISU record in the 600-yard run.

Elahi qualified for the national meet thanks to her performance at the regional meet. Elahi said the top 48 performers from each region are selected for the regional meet. The top 12 times from both the West and East Regional meets determine the national qualifiying field.

At the West Regional meet, Elahi secured a seventh-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles to qualify for the national meet. Elahi was also part of the ISU 4×400 relay team that failed to advance beyond the regional round.

One key advantage that the Cyclone sprinter will enjoy is being a “hometown favorite.” The 2011 meet is being held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. The short trip from Ames to the renowned blue oval will offer Elahi an edge that few athletes will get to enjoy.

“I’m so happy it’s at Drake. Drake always has such a good atmosphere and there’s a lot of support for Iowa schools. That’s just so refreshing to see that,” said Elahi. “The fact that it’s at home is comforting and I feel a little more comfortable running it. I feel a little pressure being an Iowa athlete competing but it’s not a bad thing. Maybe it helps push me.”

The two-time Academic-All Big 12 athlete laid down her personal best time in the 400 meter hurdles at the Relays this year with a time of 56.73. Additionally, Elahi came in second in the 400-meter hurdles and was part of a distance medley relay team that took first place at the 2010 Drake Relays.

Elahi is proud of her accomplishments to this point and has claimed gold at multiple meets this season, but she is keeping a level head and being realistic heading into the final meet of the year.

“There’s some very, very fast girls in this country, and I’m not to that training level yet. I know that I’m capable of that, but they’ve just been doing it longer and a lot more consistently,” Elahi said. “But my goal is mostly to improve the times I’ve been running, and to be an All-American.”

In order to reach her goals, Elahi has been working on her mechanics and fine-tuning her stride.

“One thing I’ve really needed to solidfy is my stride progression. I’m supposed to go through six or seven hurdles on my left leg, but in my past few meets I’ve only made it through five. So that’s something we are really working on,” Elahi said. 

Despite the talents and times of her competitors, Elahi is only focused on one runner: herself.

“I don’t look up a lot of stats. I don’t like to ask too many questions about who I’m running against or what lane they’re in. Usually it’s a little more positive for me to try and focus on my own race,” Elahi said.

With her combination of technique, expertise and mental toughness, Elahi is ready to capitalize on the opportunity that awaits her and climb to the top of collegiate track.