ISU coach pleased with collegiate track, field debuts of youngsters


Courtesy of ISU Athletics

Senior sprinter/hurdler Alyssa Gonzalez competes in the Big 12 Indoor Championship at Lied Recreation Athletic Center on Feb. 28, 2015

Kyle Heim

Development for distance runners can sometimes take longer than other positions in track and field.

But for a group of ISU freshman distance runners, success arrived early — their ISU track debuts at the Holiday Inn Invitational in Lincoln, Neb., on Friday and Saturday.

Seven freshmen in total competed for the Cyclones in events throughout the weekend, and their performances were exactly what the coaches had hoped to see.

“I think that the Big 12 is a really great middle distance conference, certainly not an easy road, but I really liked what I saw from my two youngsters [Erinn Stenman-Fahey and Jasmine Staebler] that ran in the [1,000-meter run], came back and ran in the [4×400-meter relay],” said ISU assistant track and field coach Andrea Grove-McDonough.

“I think those two are going to have a really significant role as the season goes on and certainly in years to come, which is exactly what we hoped for out of that group, so we’re feeling good about it.”

Staebler’s first-place performance in the 1,000-meter run marked Iowa State’s first event title of the young indoor track and field season. Stenman-Fahey and freshmen Grace Gibbons finished close behind, placing second and fourth, respectively.

But it wasn’t only the freshmen on the team who ran strong at the meet. Junior Maryn Lowry and redshirt junior Maddie Nagle finished second and third, respectively, in the mile. Both runners also assisted in a third-place ISU performance in the distance medley relay.

The 4×400-meter relay, which consisted of Stenman-Fahey, senior Alyssa Gonzalez, freshman Emma Whigham and Staebler, completed a strong ISU performance at the meet Saturday with a first-place finish in the event.

“The women’s 4×4 finished the meet off with style!” first-year ISU associate track and field head coach Dan Steele tweeted Saturday.

After losing some of its top scorers from a season ago, including distance runners Katy Moen and Margaret Connelly, the team will rely on many of its freshmen who competed at the Holiday Inn Invitational to play a big role moving forward this season.

“I thought [the athletes who competed] did a nice job,” Grove-McDonough said. “It was a good low-key opener.” It was good to have some of those runners who didn’t compete in the cross-country season that redshirted, it was nice to see them finally put the Iowa State jersey on and kind of get out there and get things started.”

The next meet on the schedule for the Cyclones is the Big 4 Duals, which will mark the team’s home opener and will take place Saturday at Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

When asked who will compete at the meet, Grove-McDonough said, “everyone who is healthy.”