AMES, Iowa – Iowa State head track and field coach Corey Ihmels says when it comes down to this week’s NCAA Championships Wednesday through Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, it is quite simple.
“Every person we have competing can score,” Ihmels said. “It really is doing what they did to get here. At this stage the work has been finished. This is what we have practiced for all season long.”
For Iowa State, the meet begins with Edward Kemboi in the men’s 800-meters semifinals at 6:15 p.m. CDT. Ian Warner will compete in the 100-meter semifinals at 7:15 p.m., followed by Ese Okoro and Kianna Elahi in the 400-meter hurdle semifinals at 8:30 p.m.
Kemboi won the Big 12 Championship in the 800 meters last month in Manhattan, Kan. with a time of 1:46.65 He finished fifth last season in the NCAA 800 final, and posted a personal best 1:46.06 last season.
“Edward has already been an All-American and is capable of anything,” Ihmels said. “He is looking forward to this week and for his sake so am I.”
Warner clocked a personal best 10.25 seconds and has looked good all season.
“Ian has worked hard to get where he is,” Ihmels said. “This week will hinge for him on getting out and staying consistent, which he has done all through the spring.”
Elahi, the 2010 Big 12 champion, faces the challenge of getting through the 400-meter hurdle semifinals to make her first NCAA final. Okoro gets the experience of her first national collegiate meet. The pair finished first and second, respectively in the 400-meter hurdles at the Drake Relays.
“Kianna knows what it will take,” Ihmels said. “She has had a great career at Iowa State we want to see her come through in a big way. Ese’s experience at Drake should bode her well.”
On Thursday, high jumper Cameron Ostrowski and 10,000-meter contestant Meaghan Nelson will get their chance. Ostrowski, the Big 12 Conference runner-up outdoors will compete at 5:30 p.m. The women’s 10,000-meters starts at 8:45 p.m.
“Cameron knows that if he gets to his PR, 7-2 ∏, he will be in the mix,” Ihmels said. “Meaghan has done what she needs to in the 10,000. Her finish indoors did not come easy. She is an All-American and has come a long way. We both know there is more coming in the future.”
Nelson owns the nation’s No. 2 collegiate time nationally (32:14.27), which she accomplished with a 13th-place finish at the Peyton Jordan Invitational. The race was full of world-class runners including Iowa State’s Betsy Saina (31:15.97), who won the race in a redshirt outdoor season preparing for the Kenyan Olympic Trials. Former Iowa State legend Lisa Koll-Uhl placed sixth in that race. Nelson finished right behind one of the main contenders, Deborah Maier of California, who ran 32:12.47. Nelson earned All-America honors with a fourth-place 5,000-meter finish at the NCAA indoor meet in March.
“Each of these great successes by Meaghan have demonstrated what she is capable of doing,” Ihmels said.
“She is living the kind of life you have to live to run at the front of the pack and be successful,” Ihmels said. “It is important to note that what she has achieved, she as rightly earned and that is why I am so optimistic about her further.”
Shot putters Danielle Frere and Hayli Bozarth will get their chance on Friday. Frere, a junior, placed fourth in the Big 12 Championships with a personal best of 54-6 ∏. Sophomore Hayli Bozarth achieved her personal best of 52-9 1/4 at the NCAA West Regional two weeks ago.
“Danielle has come through in big meets before, it brings out the best in her,” Ihmels said. “Hayli has accomplished one goal getting here. It is a great opportunity for her.
Ihmels looks at this championship as the end of a long journey that began in January.
“At this point, action is the word,” Ihmels said.