“Teamwork makes the dream work” for Iowa State at the Big 12 Championships

Sophomore Roshon Roomes runs in the Mens 800 M at the Big 12 Track and Field Championship at Lied Rec. Center on Feb. 24. Roomes finished in fourth place with a time of 1:48.97.

Adarsh Tamma

The Iowa State track and field program concluded the first day of the Big 12 Indoor Championships on a high note, as both the Cyclones’ men’s and women’s teams won events.

After the first day, the No. 11 Iowa State men top the overall team standings with 44 points so far, while the Cyclone women are currently in fourth place with 32 points. Most of all though, the action on Friday at the Harry Hoak Track was about one thing — teamwork.

Out of all of the athletes that competed on the track and in the field, the theme of togetherness rang strong.

The Women’s 5000m run ended in success for the Cyclone distance running group, as they placed not one, not two, but four athletes on the podium in a field that included some of the conference’s best runners.

As the race progressed to the halfway mark, the top-three athletes were all from Iowa State, with senior Abby Caldwell in third, while juniors Cailie Logue and Winrose Chesang battled it out for the lead.

Down the stretch, Caldwell overtook Chesang as Logue streaked away from the rest to win her first indoor conference championship in a time of 16:29.48.

Chesang, who came third and freshman Dana Feyen, who came eighth, both broke their personal bests with times of 16:36.33 and 16:57.79 respectively. 

After the race, Logue was all smiles.

“I feel great, and I’m just so proud of Abby and (Winrose) to be on the podium as well,” Logue said. “We all train together, so it’s great to see them succeed.”

The race had a slow start, as many of the Cyclone runners fell behind in the lead pack while Texas athletes Madeline Vondra and Beth Ramos commanded the field.

Despite this pace, Logue didn’t seem dismayed.

“We knew that we had to run the 3K tomorrow, so the strategy today was just to score points for the team,” Logue said.

In total, the 5K contingent scored 25 points for the Cyclone women.

Immediately following the women’s 5000m run was the men’s race, with Iowa State again being represented by a group of five athletes.

Sophomore Jefferey Pedersen initially lead the pack of runners as the pacemaker. Early on, senior Edwin Kurgat, who has already broken the school record in the 5K, sat back in seventh place, while sophomore Chad Johnson and junior Thomas Pollard lead the way for the Cyclone men.

Counting down the final laps, Kurgat and Pollard gradually pulled away from the rest of the field, exchanging the lead multiple times going into the bell lap, with Kurgat eventually pulling out the win within the last 50 meters.

For Kurgat, the win was more special with his teammates behind him.

“It was very fun to run in this race, we all practice together and are truly a team, so it was awesome to see more of us on the podium,” Kurgat said.

Following Kurgat, Pollard finished second in a personal best time of 14:01.97. Johnson and junior Mitchell Day followed in third and fourth places, with times of 14:09.95 and 14:15.23.

Senior David Too rounded out the Cyclone’s podium finishers in seventh place with a personal collegiate record time of 14:23.65. In total, the Cyclone men scored 31 points.

“We knew that we were a very strong team, so we just made sure to make it an honest race and score as many points for the team that we could,” Kurgat said.

The final event of the first day, the men’s distance medley relay, produced the closest action on the track so far.

Competing in a quite balanced field of teams, the Cyclone men began strong, with senior Leonel Perez running the opening 1200m leg in a time of 3:08.58, handing the baton off to 400m runner Gage Clay.

The sophomore fell back from fourth to fifth place as junior Daniel Nixon got the stick for the 800m leg, and Nixon never looked back. The former Mississippi State athlete shot out to second place over the course of his leg, setting up a tight final leg for senior Festus Lagat.

Lagat, who finished second in the 800m run at last year’s outdoor national championships, finished the job off for the Cyclones. He streaked by Kansas runner Chandler Gibbens over the final 150 meters to cap off a Cyclone win in a time of 9:59.53.

“I, like everybody else, thought that was crazy, but when I handed the stick off to [Lagat], I didn’t have any doubt that he would get the job done for us because that’s something that we practice everyday,” Nixon said.

Despite any initial race plans, Nixon seemed to be content with how his team carried out the race, as he was all smiles after the medal ceremony.

“Our plan was just to run our race and see what happens,” Nixon said. “We know that we could stay strong, so we knew that teamwork makes the dream work.”

Looking ahead, Nixon will again compete for the Cyclones as he also qualified for the 800m final from today’s prelim heats, finishing with a time of 1:51.70.

“Looking ahead, I’m just here to win in the 800m,” Nixon said. “I just want to score points and help our team win.”

The Big 12 Indoor Championships will conclude Saturday with many Cyclone athletes competing in the finals. Field events are set to begin at noon with the women’s high jump, while running events are going to start with the women’s 60m hurdles.