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Three Big Takeaways: Cyclones show out at Holiday Invitational

Makayla+Clark+competes+in+the+Womens+800m+at+the+Drake+Relays+on+Apr.+27%2C+2023.
Owen Aanestad
Makayla Clark competes in the Women’s 800m at the Drake Relays on Apr. 27, 2023.

AMES — The Cyclone track and field teams competed in their second event of the year Friday and Saturday as they hosted their first home meet of the 2023-24 indoor​​ track and field season. The Cyclones took advantage of the home atmosphere of the Holiday Invitational and showed out on both days of competition.

Prior to Friday, the Cyclones only attended one meet, the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener in Boston. At that meet, both Sanele Masondo and Madelynn Hill recorded PRs and entered the top 10 in the Cyclones’ record books in the 5,000-meter race. However, that meet was only for the distance runners, making Friday and Saturday the first competition of the season for most.

The 5,000-meter run was not an event present at the Holiday Invitational. That meant the events on both Friday and Saturday were fresh experiences for each of the competitors.

Notably at the event, many Cyclone athletes could be seen present but outfitted with walking boots.

“It’s obviously something we never want to have happen, but if it’s going to happen, we’d rather it happen this time of year than in January, February or March,” Iowa State head coach Jeremy Sudbury said.

Sudbury expressed confidence in the roster he has, not only in the indoor season, but also in the upcoming outdoor season and into next year.

Newcomers come out on top

The Friday half of competition mostly consisted of the women’s pentathlon and the men’s heptathlon. During those two events, the young Cyclones dominated heavily.

In the heptathlon, sophomore Kole Becker reigned on top and held first place through the first four events. Becker spent most of his first year as a Cyclone out with an injury and recovering from a major ankle surgery.

When asked, Becker said he spent the last year recovering and was, “sort of almost at full health.”

Becker attained his personal record for shot put when he threw 13.48 meters and finished in third place. He ended up placing first in the heptathlon Saturday.

In the pentathlon, Macy Owens and Amari Laing stayed neck and neck for the majority of the five events. Owens found herself in first at the end of the night and Laing finished fourth.

Both of the runners were in their first meets as Cyclones. Owens transferred in from Arkansas earlier this year and Laing committed to Iowa State earlier this year.

“Being able to have teammates who do the same things (multi-eventers), it makes things more enjoyable,” Owens said.

“It was kind of scary just to think about at the beginning… I’ve only done two of the five events,” Laing said.

Both expressed hopes that this first meet was only the beginning of a successful season, as individuals and as a team.

Additionally, redshirt freshman Ella O’Neall found herself in second place in the shot put with a 14.41-meter throw and sixth in the weight throw with a 16.92-meter throw.

Day two dominance

A majority of the events were held Saturday. Multiple Cyclones found themselves finishing first throughout the day.

On the men’s team, Becker placed at the top of the heptathlon. Said Mechaal (who ran unattached) placed first in the men’s mile, Jack Latham was the top finisher in the 60-meter hurdles, while fellow Cyclone Seth Clevenger finished as the first attached mile runner and second overall. Braden Goellner also finished first in the high jump.

On the women’s side, Makayla Clark finished as the first attached runner in the 1,000-meter race and second overall, Bria Barnes finished first in the 300-meter race, Kailynn Gubbels finished first in the high jump and McKinley Wheeler finished first in the 3000-meter run.

Clark also broke a 33-year-old school record with a two-minute and 44.97 second time in the 1,000-meter race.

“The ultimate goal is to make nationals,” Clark said. “I’m not going to put any limitations on myself and what I can do. I’m just going to pretty much shoot for the stars.”

Unattached Cyclones show out

Though the official Cyclones athletes had a great performance, they were not the only Cyclones running at the top of their game during the Holiday Invitational.

Mechaal, who was only a few months removed from a fantastic cross country season, found himself at the top of two events. Mechaal placed first in the men’s mile and the men’s 3000-meter race.

Sydney Willits ran alongside Owens and Laing in the pentathlon. Willits placed first in the long jump portion of the five-section event. She finished in eighth-place overall by the end of Friday.

The Cyclones came out incredibly strong in their first meet of the indoor season. However, this opener comes briefly before another off period. Over winter break, the indoor track team will be off. The team will return on Jan. 13, when they attend the Hawkeye Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa.

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