ISU men’s track, field enjoys home-track advantage for first time


Ryan Young/Iowa State Daily

Senior Edward Kemboi waits at the starting line for the start of the 4×400-meter relay at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships at the Cyclone Sports Complex in Ames on May 17, 2015.

Luke Manderfeld

When any ISU athlete would run right across the small bleachers in front of the front stretch of the Bill and Karen Bergen Track, the crowd would roar in approval.

The Cyclones would call that quality home-track advantage — and they got that during the weekend.

The crowd was certainly in display May 15 to 17 for the Big 12 Outdoor Championship at the newly built Cyclone Sports Complex — the first time an official track meet was held at the facility.

Some Cyclones were pushed to their limits with encouragement from the crowd and others were able to overcome season-long injuries in the first and only overall team meet in the outdoor season.

The Cyclones struggled points-wise in front of their home crowd, finishing in ninth of nine teams, but there were more than a few bright spots.

One of those was all-American Edward Kemboi, who won his seventh Big 12 title after crossing the finishing line holding seven fingers up to commemorate the fact. 

He was certainly appreciative of the crowd in his last home meet as a member of the Cyclones. 

“Seeing a lot of people like this, it gives me a lot of confidence,” Kemboi said after his third outdoor Big 12 win in the 800 meter. “I look up in the crowd and I see a lot of Cyclone fans and I’m like, you know what, I’m not going to let them down.” 

His teammate, Patrick Peterson, finished third in the 800-meter after watching Kemboi blow right past him. When he passed the aluminum bleachers on the south side of the track, he heard his friends and family cheering for him.

Without it, he may have never finished as well as he did. 

“That was really cool,” Peterson said about the fans cheering him on. “This is my first ever outdoor home meet and it happens to be my first ever Big 12s. It was cool to have all of my friends, family here. It was really cool, something that I would’ve never pictured or imagined.”

At the culmination of an entire two months of outdoor meets, two athletes were able defeat long-term injuries to post up some career bests. 

Jumper Cameron Ostrowski and decathlete Taylor Sanderson have had nagging injuries all outdoor season long, but when it came to the Big 12 Championship, they summoned all of their effort for one last go. 

Ostrowski was able to clear seven feet for the first time this outdoor season after being hampered by an ankle injury for the past two seasons. He jumped over the 7-foot-3-inch mark, which is his official personal best, and grabbed a sixth place finish.

“[The ankle] was wearing on me at the end there,” Ostrowski said. “For the most part, I felt the best that I’ve felt all outdoor season. Definitely happy with how it went.” 

In many other fields, he would have had a better finish, but he was up against four of the top six jumpers at the collegiate level, including No. 1 Jacorian Duffield from Texas Tech, who is chasing his fourth straight all-American honor.

Sanderson’s injury was more like injuries.

He has dealt with a plethora of injuries in his collegiate career — abdominals, abductors, shoulders — the worst of which has been his ankle, he says.

He didn’t show any signs of determent during the two-day decathlon, though, as he earned four personal records and a third-place finish in the event with 7,301 points, only missing second place by four points. 

He also found out good news that he earned a spot at the NCAA Outdoor Championship in June with his 7,360 score set at the the Mt. SAC Relays earlier this season. 

“The decathlon, you deal with a bunch of nagging injuries,” Sanderson said. “I actually felt really healthy this weekend for the most part. This is probably the most healthy I have been in an event, which makes me disappointed I didn’t score better.”

There will be a few Cyclones competing at the NCAA West Preliminaries in Austin, Texas, in two weeks to try and qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championship in June. Kemboi and Ostrowski will be among the few.