ISU Classic offers last test before conference meet

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With the Big 12 Conference Championships just two weeks away, Friday and Saturday’s Iowa State Classic, in Ames, Iowa, offers the track and field team one of its last opportunities to prepare for the conference meet.

“In a way, it’s kind of our last real test before conference,” said coach Cliff Rovelto. “This is really the last time that people are going to be competing in events that they are real strong in, prior to the conference meet.”

Of the last two meets in which the Wildcats competed, one was specialized for multi-event athletes, while the other featured sprinters and field athletes. This weekend’s meet, however, will be a chance for almost all of the Wildcats to compete.

“Basically, everyone that is healthy, other than the throwers, who are off this week, is going to be competing,” Rovelto said.

The meet should be a good measuring stick for the Wildcats before the conference meet, as this weekend’s field will include Big 12 competitors Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.

“This is a big weekend,” said junior Colin Swaney. “It’s nice to get with a lot of good competition. It’s just a good preview of the Big 12 meet.”

Last week, in the Don Barrett Air Force Open, the Wildcats won four events and captured nine second-place finishes. Rovelto said his team has been practicing well, and he looks for them to continue to compete well this weekend.

“I think a lot of the kids will do well this weekend,” Rovelto said. “Training has gone well with the majority of the team. There are always a few injuries, and some of those people are not competing for that reason. But basically, everybody that is going has trained well, and we look for them to have good performances.”

Sprinters this weekend could benefit from an oversized track, which often produces faster times. The meet features a 300-meter track, rather than the standard 200-meter oval.

“When you look at everything we do from 400-meters on up, you’re probably going to see season bests or perhaps personal bests,” Rovelto said.

Senior sprinter Donniece Parrish, who is running the 400-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay, said the oversized track is similar to an outdoor track, which she prefers.

Parrish, who won two events at last week’s meet, and provisionally qualified for the NCAA championships the week before, said she thinks she can continue to improve and perform well.

“I’m feeling confident,” Parrish said. “The more you run, the more practice you get, so going into this week I am more confident. I’m more focused. I know what I need to do to possibly come out with a victory.”

While the runners will benefit from the facilities at Iowa State, the field athletes could be hindered by the size of the meet. Because the meet is so big, Rovelto said, many field athletes might have only three or four attempts. The large field can create a lot of down-time in between attempts, which also can hinder performances, he said.

After competing this weekend, the Wildcats will be the hosts of the KSU Open on Feb. 23 before competing in the conference meet. Throwers will return to action in that meet, and many athletes will compete in alternate events to help keep them fresh for the conference meet, Rovelto said.

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