Iowa State prepares to host national track meet


Lani Tons/Iowa State Daily

Sophomore Elijah Young competed in the men 400 meter dash at the Iowa State Classic at Lied Recreation Athletic Center on Feb. 13.

Mike Burvee

The Lied Recreation Center in Ames will be hosting a national track meet this weekend — the Iowa State Classic.

After a successful start to the season, many of the men’s track and field athletes are excited to compete in front of a home crowd.

“We run our best everywhere,” Derek Jones said. “It’s a different feeling though and means more to be successful in front of a home crowd.”

Jones could be running his final open 400-meter event this weekend as the indoor season begins to wrap up. His next chance would be in a few weekends at the Big 12 Indoor Championship. 

For some athletes, it will be one of their last chances to compete on the home track. For others, like Finn Hoogensen, it will be their first time competing in front of many supporters cheering them on.

For much of last season, he wasn’t able to compete due to an injury early on.

“I’m expecting a loud crowd to turnout to cheer us on,” Hoogensen said. “It’ll give everyone that extra effort to finish hard.”

Hoogensen said he has to be aggressive in his open 400-meter race.

Another first-time competitor on the Lied track is Jaymes Dennison, who entered in the open 400-meter run and part of the 4×400-meter relay team. His biggest worry going into this weekend is whether or not his performance will make the Iowa State faithful happy enough.

“Normally, I’m hurt this time of the season,” Dennison said. “I’ve improved my diet, increased my mileage and started exercising more to get healthy.”

This season is Dennison’s first competing in the 4×400 relay as well. 

The success the group of four has found is reliant on each other. The camaraderie between them sets the event apart from most of the other track events which focus highly on the individual.

“Relays rely more on teamwork,” Jones said. “There’s more of an added incentive when you’re not only running for yourself but for the other guys as well.”

The 4×400 relay wasn’t very strong prior to this season; now they have excess depth in terms of potential success.

“Everyone tends to drop their times each meet,” Jones said. “Our relay team as a whole has been cutting down about one second every time we compete.”

This weekend’s meet will be the final one in preparation for the Big 12 Indoor Championship in two weekends, also hosted by Iowa State.

“This weekend should be a good confidence booster heading down the stretch,” Hoogensen said.

All three have specific goals they’ve set for themselves this weekend. Dennison is hoping to run a personal record in the 400 and break the school record. 

Jones’ goal is to qualify the relay team for nationals, and also run a personal record in the open 400-meter. 

Hoogensen hopes to run his best time of the season and set a personal record.

They all have a good chance, having more experience on the home track they practice on and hitting their marks.

Iowa State gets the chance to host the two events annually, and with an ever-improving program, the Cyclones continue to rise on the national track radar.

“Coach [Martin] Smith has done a phenomenal job with our program,” Jones said. “This meet will continue to be huge for our program and the sport of track.”