Iowa State track and field to host Big 12 Championships


Derek Jones and Will Seeser competed in the 400-meter relay along with David Eldridge and Kyle Werning. They won their section during the Iowa State Classic on February 11 at the Lied Recreation Center.

Mike Burvee

Championship season has arrived for the indoor half of the men’s track and field season. The Big 12 Championship is the final obstacle and last opportunity to compete at nationals. Iowa State will host the championship this weekend. 

After hosting the Iowa State Classic two weekends ago, the Lied Recreation Center will once again showcase some of the nation’s best talent. As of Feb. 20, the U.S. Track and Field Cross Country Coaches Association has four Big 12 teams ranked in the top 25 teams including No. 6 Kansas, No. 14 Texas, No. 16 Texas Tech and No. 20 Oklahoma State.

The Cyclones have been making noise of their own on the national level, predominantly in the 400-meter relay. Ben Kelly is part of that relay team, often running the second leg of the race and taking the baton from Eric Fogltanz.

“It feels pretty good,” Kelly said. “To be honest it doesn’t feel like we haven’t accomplished much yet though.”

Last weekend, they not only broke the school record but also moved into the top 10 nationally, running a time of 3:05.61.

“We have higher goals than breaking school records,” Kelly said. “Our work is not done.”

Currently, the Cyclones sit inside the top-five time-wise for the relay in the conference, a minimum requirement to making nationals. The most foolproof way of qualifying for nationals would be to win this weekend’s meet.

The Big 12 is known for its speed and will be the stiffest competition the relay team will face this season. Texas ran the fastest time in the conference with 3:04.95, the fourth fastest in the nation.

“I feel like it will be easier for us,” Kelly said. “We tend to run better against tougher competition.”

Kelly also believes there is an advantage for the Cyclones due to being on their home track, which is oversized. An average indoor track is 200 meters, whereas Lied’s track is 300 meters, which affects strategy and speed.

If the Cyclones hold their position this weekend, they have a potential to receive a nationals bid. The championship will also foreshadow the performance of the nationals 400-meter relay.

The athletes in the senior class will run in front of their home crowd for the last time in their career. For many, it may be their last indoor meet of their collegiate career. 

Derek Jones is one of those seniors. He will be competing in the 600-yard run this weekend, an event that he hasn’t run in all season.

“I’ve got to PR in the 600-yard,” Jones said. “It’s definitely my best indoor race.”

Jones has competed in the 600-yard run in past years, mostly only in the Big 12 Championship.

Although there isn’t a 600-meter or yard event at nationals, competing this weekend will keep him in shape and ready to go if called upon.

“There’s a good chance I’ll be an alternate in the 400-meter relay at nationals,” Jones said. “Just being able to be there among some of the best athletes will hopefully motivate me enough to make it to nationals for outdoor.”

The past two seasons, Jones has competed in the 600-yard run at the Big 12 Championships in addition to being on the 400-relay team last season. His current personal record for the 600-yard is 1:11.14, which he ran in 2014.

“I just want to exceed expectations,” Jones said. “It’s unbelievable that this will be the end of my indoor career already.”