Track and field find success on day one of Big 12 Indoor Championships

Chad Johnson competes in the men’s distance medley event in the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 25 at Lied Recreation Center.

Nick Flores

AMES — The Iowa State Cyclone track and field program played host to the 2022 Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships, with the Big 12’s best track and field athletes perform all day at Lied Recreation Center.

The Cyclone men sit in fifth place as a team with 23 points, while the Cyclone women are sixth with 21 points. Texas Tech’s men are in first place with 41 team points heading into Saturday.

Early on, it was clear that the Cyclones were going to be a competitive team and continue their run in conference success. In the women’s 60m hurdles, both Katrina Vlahovic and Kaylyn Hall qualified for Saturday’s finals. Vlahovic came in third with her time of 8.16 as Hall got fifth with her time of 8.30.

Following this performance, another member of the women’s team, Zakiyah Amos, also qualified for the finals in the women’s 600-yard run. Her time of 1:21.72 was just enough to qualify as she continues her impressive senior season.

“I usually keep my consistency throughout practice, I visualize myself as if I’m in a race so it kind of helps a lot with my mentality,” Amos said. “Also, being strong and always praying to god, I’m his child.”

Amos has been a standout for the Cyclones this season and her performance on day one of the Big 12 Indoor Championships further proves it. She’s a competitor and she also knows how important being in Ames for this event is for her and the team.

“I think for us it gives us a big advantage because we’re here every day, we know this track and we own this track,” Amos said. “I think being at home and having more fans here keeps us strengthened and seeing all my huddle of girls make finals, it pumps me up to be at home.”

In the men’s 600 yard run, Tanner Anderson and Cebastian Gentil competed, with Gentil qualifying for Saturday’s finals. He placed seventh in the preliminaries with his time of 1:10.30.

Following his qualification, Gentil mentioned he did not know what to expect given that this was his first race of 2022.

“To make finals is great because it’s already a fast year and now that the rust is busted after my first race, I think tomorrow is going to go well,” Gentil said.

Gentil also touched upon being at home and how important it is especially on as big of a stage as the Big 12 Indoor Championships.

“Having a home track advantage is huge, all the fans here are fans of Iowa State,” Gentil said. “My family’s here, I got friends here, I got people from my classes that showed up and everything so coming off of every turn I have someone yelling ‘go C-bass’ and that kind of support I think is huge being at home.”

That support certainly proved to be huge in the men’s 800m run as four Cyclones, Frank Hayes, Alex Lomong, Peter Smith and Jason Gomez were all able to qualify for the finals. Hayes placed first earning himself another win with a time of 1:49.03 as Lomong places second, Smith fourth and Gomez fifth.

Hayes has been on a great run of form having broken a record last week in the men’s distance medley relays as well as earning a third straight win. Hayes has a lot of motivators when it comes to his performances on the track but one is much more important than the others.

“Knowing that someone else is better than me,” Hayes said about his motivators after the race.

While Hayes is fueled by the thought of someone being better than him, he also mentioned being at home playing a factor in how well he and the team has performed on day one.

“This is great, just being able to be back at a place I’m so used to being at,” Hayes said. “Being around the atmosphere, I didn’t have to travel anywhere so I know everything around me so, I didn’t have to switch my schedule up at all.”

When it comes to the field events, Jonathan Gannon showed out for the Cyclones. Gannon participated in the men’s weight throw event where he placed ninth and recorded a new personal record with a distance of 18.62 meters.

Gannon was soaking in the atmosphere at Lied Recreation Center as he enjoyed himself following his participation in the weight throw.

“I always like throwing at home. l like Lied. I feel like I usually throw pretty well here so I always enjoy that,” Gannon said. “[In the] Big 12 it’s always time to bring your best, it’s when it really matters so I thought the energy was good today.”

The Cyclones will hope to ride that energy into Saturday, with day two continuing at 11 a.m. at Lied Recreation Center and concluding at 5:25 p.m.

The Big 12 Indoor Championships is available to stream on ESPN+ and is free to attend at Lied Recreation Center.