Hawkeyes Wrestle With 'What If?'

April 28, 2011

Drake Relays Photo Gallery (Thursday)

DES MOINES — The University of Iowa women’s track and field program borrowed a page from the Hawkeye wrestling playbook Thursday at the Drake Relays.

Tom Brands and the UI wrestlers acknowledged — but did not celebrate — a third-place showing at the NCAA championships in March. Likewise, Layne Anderson and his UI 4×1,600-meter relay team of Betsy Flood, Brooke Eilers, McKenzie Melander and Lauren Hardesty were runner up to three-time defending champion Minnesota, 19:06.52 to 19:17.52, in that event.

“Congratulations to Minnesota. They ran a great race and you have to acknowledge the race they ran,” Anderson said. “They’ve won five of the last six Drake 4x1600s and we believe on paper we’re every bit as good as them. We believe we have the potential to win that relay. We’ve come here and been second before, so our goal is to come here and win. We’re not devastated — we have more to be excited about moving forward — but at the same time our goal coming into this meet was to win the relay, so coming out with anything less than that would be disappointing for us.”

There were 13 other relay teams that would have gladly traded places with the Hawkeyes in the final results, but with the UI track and field program, this is a time of lofty expectations. Anderson says the next step is to handle those expectations.

“Now we have to manage that pressure of coming into a race and then within the race, we have to perform,” Anderson said. “If you put your best foot forward and somebody beats you, you have nothing to be disappointed with. If you don’t put your best foot forward then you always have the `what if’?”

The Hawkeyes will be back on the blue oval Friday morning with the preliminaries of the 4×100 relay. The university women begin at 9:32 and the men begin at 9:48.

“We’re going to continue to battle, come back here and be ready to go,” Anderson said. “Relays are always challenging trying to get four people run well on the same day and a longer relay like that on a windy day like today — it’s not an easy challenge. We’re looking for great performances and leave here with everybody feeling good.”