Track, field season kicks off in Iowa City this weekend


Iowa State junior Derek Jones warms up before the 400-meter hurdle at Drake Relays on April 30.

Mike Burvee

As the temperatures hover around freezing outside, the Iowa State track and field team is getting warmed up inside for its indoor season primer. The meet will take place Friday and Saturday in Iowa City.

After ending last season’s outdoor season on a high note by going to nationals, Derek Jones is eager to get back on the track and compete. Jones excels at hurdles, but they aren’t a common event in indoor track. He will be running in the 600-meter dash and in the 4×400-meter relay this weekend.

Despite the drastic change from vertical competing to flat out running, he’s coming into this season physically fit and mentally strong.

“This was probably my best off-season to date,” Jones said. “I think the biggest thing has been the addition of some new and improved guys on the team to practice with.”

The team and coaches convened in late fall to begin workouts and prepare for this upcoming season. 

Jones has two major motivators this year: finish strong for his senior season and repeat by going to nationals and competing on the highest stage like he did this past summer.

There’s still a long way to go before reaching that point, and it begins in Iowa City at the Hawkeye Invite.

“The biggest goal for the first meet is to see where I’m at,” Jones said. “I’ll give an honest effort and will re-evaluate afterward.”

Though there isn’t a high expectation of performing well this weekend, the coaches and athletes all want to do their best and go on from there. For one athlete in particular, it will be his first taste of indoor competition.

Finn Hoogensen, a sophomore, suffered a leg injury early on in the season last year causing him to miss competing indoor. He did recover in time to compete during some of the outdoor meets, mainly running 400-meter hurdles.

This weekend, the coaches are looking for him to compete in the 200-meter dash.

“I’ve only ran a 200 one time and that was in high school,” Hoogensen said. “Coach is looking for me to work on cutting down on my overall time.”

One goal in particular is to stay healthy so he can contribute more to the team when the time comes. Scoring during the conference meet and running some personal record times are also on Hoogensen’s goal list for this season.

Staying mentally fit in addition to physically ready are two important aspects to succeeding in any meet.

“Coach is expecting us to be ready to go for this meet, but we don’t have to be top-notch,” Hoogensen said. “They want to make sure we peak when we need to during the season, closer to the conference meet.”