Stack qualifies for nationals

Zach Gourley

ISU women’s track and field runner Dani Stack is on her way to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships for the first time after a second-place finish in the 10,000-meter run at the West Regional in Eugene, Ore.

Stack finished in a time of 33:28.36, right ahead of teammate Betsy Saina, who finished third and also qualified for Nationals.

“I thought we worked really well together. Coach [Ihmels] just told us that he didn’t really care what time we ran, as long as we moved on,” Stack said. “We wanted to take it easy in the first 5K and stay with the group, but once it got to the last seven to 10 laps, we wanted to start making it hard for everyone and make people kind of drop off of the pack.”

Stack and Saina employed the same strategy in the qualifying race on Friday that brought them first and second-place finishes two weeks ago in the 5,000-meter run at the Big 12 outdoor track and field championships.

“We just worked really well together and got the field rolling and ended up separating the pack a lot,” Stack said of her running with Saina. “We just wanted to really start moving and make other people work more for their places.”

The NCAA West Regional was held at historic Hayward Field, which has been home to multiple U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials and NCAA Championships.

“It was the coolest experience,” Stack said of the 92-year-old track. “I was kind of nervous beforehand, but it was a great atmosphere and the crowd was really supportive. It’s a great track and it’s kind of just a runners dream to run at Hayward Field. To be able to finally run here was just something I could check off my bucket list.”

Stack’s said her intensified training, which involves running between 75 and 80 miles every week, and an increased confidence in her abilities is what has elevated her performance so far beyond that of last year, when she did not qualify to run at the West Regional.

“My season is just going really well and it just makes it even better that I get to make it to Nationals with Betsy,” Stack said. “The fact that me and my teammate are going there and working together, I think we can do some pretty spectacular things. It just means so much to me because all my hard work is finally starting to show and pay off.”

Three other Cyclones will be joining Stack and Saina at the NCAA Championships from June 8 to June 11 in Des Moines. Three-time All-American Hillary Bor qualified to run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a second-place finish in Eugene.

Other qualifiers for Nationals were freshman Edward Kemboi with a season-best time of 1:47.25 in the 800-meter run and Junior Kianna Elahi, clocking a 57.92 in the 400-meter hurdles.