Eight Cyclones travel to Eugene for NCAA Track Championships

Jordan Wickstrom

It has been a long season, but somehow six months, 23 meets and a couple hundred-thousand meters later, the ISU track team has finally reached the NCAA Championships. 

For four of the eight Cyclones headed to the NCAA Championships, there is nothing to hold back. Senior runners Kiel Uhl, Brandon Rooney, Lashawn Wright and Lisa Koll will all be competing in what will be their last events in an ISU uniform. 

“At conference, things go slower, so it’s a lot easier to double up,” Koll said. “It’s going to be quite the test this weekend to try and double and try to win [both the 5,000- and 10,000-meter]. But I figure it’s my last NCAA meet, so you have to take a shot.”

While Koll has competed in both events in the past, she has never competed in both events at nationals.

But after breaking the record for fastest time in the 10,000-meter race earlier this season, Koll does not believe she has anything more to prove, and would not force herself to break a record if she was in position to do so.

“I think if I’m way ahead of the field, I’ll relax,” Koll said. “I ran it really fast earlier this year, and I don’t think I have anything to prove, as far as time is concerned. I think it would mean a lot more for me to pull off a double win in the [5,000 and 10,000] than to reach a personal record in the 10,000.”

Joining Koll in the 10,000-meter are distance runners Semehar Tesfaye, junior in chemical engineering and Betsy Saina, sophomore in child, adult and family services.

After a strong showing at the Big 12 and NCAA Regional competition, Coach Corey Ihmels expects yet another strong performance from his athletes.

He especially hopes to see the success of some of the Cyclones’ most successful and experienced athletes motivate the rest of the team to find another level of performance during the competition.

“I think the athletes we have going to nationals this weekend will show up and understand that [distance runner Hillary Bor and Koll] are going to come in and try to win a couple titles,” Ihmels said. “I think if [the other athletes] see they’re going to do that, then the rest will try to do the same.”

Bor, senior in accounting, will get another shot at the Steeplechase after losing his shoe in the NCAA Regional competition.

Despite Koll and Bor being two of the most prominent athletes to compete in the upcoming championships, the Cyclones are sending six other athletes to compete in their own respective events.

Along with Koll, Uhl will be competing in the men’s 10,000-meter race, while Wright and Rooney will be competing in their last races, as well. Rooney will go for the win in the 1,500-meter, while Wright will try to leave Eugene a winner in the 200-meter dash.

Ihmels could not hide his happiness for Uhl and his accomplishment of making it to the championships.

“He’s one of the first guys I recruited out of the state of Iowa that was one of the top kids in the state, who said he was going to come in and help turn things around,” Ihmels said. “I think he’s just missed being an All-American two or three times, he’s been real consistent for us.”

Rounding out the rest of the Cyclones competing at the championships is hurdler Kianna Elahi, junior in chemical engineering, who will be competing in the 400-meter hurdles.

All events begin Wednesday and continue through Sunday.