ISU women ultimately disappointed with performance at NCAA Championships


Iowa State’s Betsy Saina rounds one of her final laps during the Women’s 5,000 meter run on Saturday at Lied Rec Center. Saina placed first with a time of 15 minutes and 50.74 seconds, putting her at the top of the Division I standings. Saina’s victory also places her at the fifth-fastest time worldwide this season.

Kevin Shay

The coaches of ISU’s track and field team went into last weekend’s NCAA Indoor Championships with high expectations for the three individual women competing at the meet: Betsy Saina, Hannah Willms and Danielle Frere.

All of them performed well — even though they left a little disappointed — especially the previous two-time All-American distance runner, Saina.

Saina earned All-American honors for her third time — and first in the indoor season — with a third-place finish, clocked at 16:09.12, in the 5,000-meter run. Jackie Areson of Tennessee won the race with a time of 16:04.16.

Although another high honor for the distance runner is a nice accomplishment, she did not run up to her full potential in the championship race. She had run the 5,000-meter run in 15:50.74 earlier in the year at the ISU Classic, a time that was one of the fastest worldwide for the season and would have easily earned her an individual title.

“She is probably a little disappointed getting third, because going in she wanted to be first or second,” said coach Corey Ihmels. “But, you know, it was her first time at indoor nationals, and she led most of the race. So it’s a nice stepping stone as we head for outdoors and continue to gear up for 10K outdoors. That’s where a lot of our training has been focused with her.”

Freshman two-sport star Hannah Willms — who is currently back with the volleyball team for its spring schedule — earned second-team All-American honors after placing 12th in the high jump during day one of the Championships. Willms jumped 5 feet, 10 inches before bowing out of the competition.

“I think Hannah continued to get better and better throughout the indoor season,” Ihmels said. “You know, she’s splitting time between volleyball and track, but all in all [she] had a terrific first indoor season. And her getting to nationals in her first season will lead her to being a better athlete down the road. “

Brigetta Barrett of Arizona won the event with a winning jump of 6 feet, 2.75 inches.

Ihmels said Willms is full-time spring volleyball right now to begin the outdoor season, and that he is “hoping to eventually get her back at some point after spring volleyball.”

Meanwhile, Danielle Frere completed the shot put in day two of the championships in 19th place. Her first throw went a distance of 51 feet, 9.75 inches. Her next two throws were off target as she fouled on both of them.

“It was disappointing for Danielle because I thought she really had one more big throw in her,” Ihmels said. “But a lot of [factors] have to do with it, like Hannah, being her first time in nationals she just never really got into a good rhythm and a good think and struggled. But it’s something she’ll use to continue to improve headed into the spring.”

Julie Labonte of Arizona won the competition with her best toss measured at 57 feet, 6.25 inches.

And even though the women may have been a little disappointed with their efforts at the championships, Ihmels said he is looking forward to the events of outdoors, especially the 10K that should really help both the men’s and women’s sides score better in competition.

Some of the team will be competing this week in either the California Multi-Event in Berkely, or the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif.

The rest of the squad will begin their outdoor season at next weekend’s Missouri Relays at Columbia, Mo.