Winter break has come and gone and now the Iowa State men’s and women’s track and field teams are ready to race into 2018. The Cyclones are traveling to Iowa City, Iowa, and University Park, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, Jan. 13, to compete in two different events: The Hawkeye Challenge and The Nittany Lion Challenge.
The team has been preparing for their most important day of the season so far, and since it is the start of the season, both events on Saturday will be played indoors.
“It can require more tactical savvy,” said long distance coach Andrea Grove-McDonough. “Especially in the middle-distance events – since the corners are tighter and the straightaways shorter.”
Senior thrower Christabel Okeke also knows about the differences with indoors and outdoors because the weight throw is done indoors while the hammer throw is outdoors.
“With hammer, the implement is lighter,” Okeke said jokingly. “Sometimes it will throw you.”
Okeke will be competing in weight throwing at the Hawkeye Challenge and will be looking to build off her success at the Cyclone Duals where she placed first in the event.
An interesting person to watch on the men’s side of things on Saturday is Chandler Diercks, as he is scheduled to run in the 60-meter dash and compete in the long jump. Diercks won the long jump at the Cyclone Duals and now he has been tasked with a sprint race as well.
“You run very different for both,” Diercks said. “Methodical approach and you want to be a little longer in your strides, while sprinting you want to get as fast as you can.”
It will certainly be a challenge, but the junior certainly feels he is ready for it. One thing that should be noted, however, is that if the events overlap, then Diercks will only be competing in long jump.
One person that has really had a positive impact on these athletes has been jump and throw coach Fletcher Brooks. Both Diercks and Okeke spoke highly of him and praised his coaching abilities.
“Coach Brooks has been beyond a phenomenal coach,” Okeke said. "He carved me to be something that I never thought I would be before I stepped foot in this atmosphere and this school.”
The impact that coach Brooks has had on these two and the whole team is very noteworthy.
“People don’t really realize how heavy his workload is,” Diercks said. “I think for him to be able to coach me the way that he does means a lot.”
Diercks and Okeke are both scheduled to go to Iowa City. A notable sprinter that is heading to Pennsylvania is Jaymes Dennison, who will be competing in the 400-meter dash, an event in which he won back in December. He will also be one of the legs of the 4x400-meter relay in what should be a fun race.
When asked what we can expect from this weekend, Grove-McDonough replied, “Good question!”