Middle distance is the focus of this weekend for the Iowa State men’s track and field team

Iowa State junior Jaymes Dennison runs in the mens 400 meter dash. 

Zane Douglas

The Iowa State men’s track and field team will focus on middle-distance events this weekend at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

In what looks to be a very challenging competition this weekend, the Cyclones will be sending mostly middle-distance runners along with a couple sprinters down to Arkansas hoping to find more success.

“Razorback Invitational is bringing in some of the best teams in the country,” said middle-distance coach Jeremy Sudbury. “It’s a great opportunity to get some of our top individuals a chance to try and stack up with them.”

Sudbury has been with Iowa State for five years now, but has been with head coach Martin Smith since he coached at the University of Oklahoma. Sudbury will play a big role this weekend with most Cyclone competitors coming from his area of expertise.

“There’s no lanes and that kind of stuff,” Sudbury said on the challenges of middle-distant races. “You’re going to have to negotiate traffic.”

With no lanes, it can get clogged up in the middle because everyone will want to have that inside track. This can create some contact which was shown earlier this season when sophomore Frank Hayes got bumped and fell during the December meet. 

One athlete who has dealt with these challenges for a few years now is senior middle-distance runner Jaymes Dennison. Dennison has had a solid season so far and is looking to continue his success into this weekend.

“If the race is too slow, I figure it out and go to the front,” Dennison said. “If it’s too fast and I’m not feeling comfortable I go from the back.”

Dennison has run mostly the 800-meter and the 400-meter runs so far this year. These races seem to give him enough time for the proper adjustments he needs to be successful.

Adjustments will have to be made for multiple runners this weekend including Ben Kelly, whose time of 21.67 seconds last year in the 200-meter dash ranks tied for seventh all time for the Cyclones. Kelly is a senior now and will be racing in the 200-meter and the 400-meter dash this weekend.

A lot of adjustments are being made, but the indoor season is rapidly going by so there isn’t much time before the Cyclones have to put their best foot forward.

“We’re about four weeks out until the end now,” Sudbury said. “This weekend is a big weekend for the whole program.”

The season has very quickly fired up its pace, so the Cyclones will start focusing more on results rather than development. The Big 12 Indoor Championships will be held in Ames in late February.

Some heavy competition and not many weeks to go, this is undoubtedly an important meet that could have strong implications for a team that has looked for improvement all season.

“It’s going to be bang bang,” Sudbury said.