ISU men’s track prepares for one of biggest meets in the country

Trey Alessio

The last time the ISU men’s track and field team competed at Lied Recreation Center, it was for the Big 4 Duals meet with Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa. This time around, it will host one of the nation’s biggest events Feb. 13 and 14.

The Iowa State Classic features more teams and bigger theatrics, including more seating for bigger crowds, a bigger jumbo screen, music blasting and bigger opening ceremonies. It also serves as the last home event until the Big 12 Indoor Championship.

“I think there’s a lot more emphasis put on the Iowa State Classic because it’s one of the premier meets in the United States this weekend,” said redshirt senior Henry Kelley. “There’s a lot of competition and it’s at home. We basically want to go out and, obviously, do our best — hopefully come away with a few personal records in order to compete with the nation’s best.”

Throughout the whole season, the runners, jumpers and throwers have had their eye on Big 12’s. The Iowa State Classic serves as gateway to what they have been waiting for.

“I think [the Iowa State Classic] has a little bit more magnitude as a stepping-stone, but it can’t be treated that way,” Kelley said. “It’s just another meet that you have to go out and get better.”

Senior distance runner Edward Kemboi said the Iowa State Classic connects a lot of teams and runners that may or may not be at nationals, which is the goal past the immediate goal of the Big 12 meet.

There will be teams such as Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Virginia, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Louisiana State and Florida among many others. Kelley said there will be “premier athletes” at the Iowa State Classic.

With many schools from around the country coming to Iowa State, it adds a little motivation for the Cyclones.

“It’s a home meet,” Kemboi said. “The Cyclone fans will be there. Running here makes me more comfortable. It gives me a lot of motivation.”

Kelley said hosting a big meet, such as the Iowa State Classic, not only brings pride to protect the home turf, but family, friends and teammates will be there.

“It all adds up and makes you feel more confident about what you’re doing,” Kelley said.

What they’ve been doing at practice hasn’t changed much. Runners are working on speed, throwers are working on consistency and jumpers are working on technique. Iowa State is also looking to come away from the Iowa State Classic with some personal records.

Kemboi said his goal this week is to be one of the fastest in the field, individually, and with that, bring the team up.

“For this meet, the team mindset is truly, ‘as a team,’” Kelley said. “We’re having a team meal the night before to get everyone together and on the same page. It will be a nice social event to bond a little bit before the meet, so we all feel as one coming into the Iowa State Classic and going into Big 12’s.”

The Cyclones will be in action Feb. 27 starting at 11 a.m. at Lied Recreation Center.