June 8, 2011
- NCAA Championships Central — Des Moines, Iowa
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When the women’s 5,000-meter run is contested at the NCAA Championships on Friday in Des Moines, only two schools — the University of Iowa and Stanford — will have multiple competitors among the field of 24.
When Eilers enrolled at the UI, she envisioned a career as a 5K runner; Flood did not. Injuries were a roadblock for Eilers — Achilles’ heel, Iliotibial band, stress fracture of the shin. The combination of setbacks had Eilers questioning whether it was time to hang up the spikes.
Instead, she met with head coach Layne Anderson and they settled on a practice plan heavily weighted with cross training. Eilers, a native of Holland, Mich., responded by running a personal-best time of 16-minutes, 11.86-seconds at the NCAA West Preliminary on May 28 in Eugene, Ore., advancing to the NCAA final in Des Moines.
“It was kind of a shocker. I didn’t expect to make it out of Eugene,” Eilers said. “But in the back of my mind, I knew I could stay with these girls. Knowing that I train with Betsy also gave me confidence.”
“Both have natural ability. Brooke was able to bounce back, get fit and now it’s been one PR after another. Betsy has the foot speed and she also has the endurance. At this level, it’s a combination of strength, endurance and speed.”
UI women’s track & field coach
Flood began her career in junior high competing in 200 and 400 sprint races. She eventually moved up to the 800 and 1,500 in high school and those were the distances she expected to compete at in college. Flood is now one of the most versatile and successful runners at the Division I level. She was an outdoor national qualifier in the 1,500 as a freshman and sophomore and has made two trips to the NCAA Championships in cross country, including as an individual last fall.
“Betsy knows that if you close in a 5K in 68, 70, 72 seconds, you can run with most anyone,” Anderson said. “If you close in 68, 70, 72 in the 1,500, people are going to run away from you. She ran her last lap in 70.2 in Eugene (and finished fifth overall with a career-best time of 16:04.46).”
Flood is a native of Des Moines and she competed more on Drake’s Jim Duncan Track than any other surface during her high school career.
“Coach knows how to train 5K and 10K runners,” said Flood, who has competed at distances from 400 to 10,000 meters this season. “I was struggling in the mile and 1,500 and I didn’t want to regret not trying the 5K. It’s a fun race and there isn’t as much pressure. It’s more relaxed than a lot of the races.”
Based on season-best times, Flood is seeded 12th in the NCAA finals and Eilers is 19th. The national leader is Oregon sophomore Jordan Hasay (15:37.29), who finished 0.7 seconds in front of Flood 11 days ago at Hayward Field.
Neither Eilers nor Flood are going public with goals on the blue oval in Des Moines.
“I want to run a good, smart race and whatever happens, happens,” Eilers said.
“This is a good opportunity God gave us to glorify Him,” Flood said. “If it does go well, that’s a blessing. I’m not setting any goal other than to stay relaxed and have fun.”
Eilers and Flood are among 11 runners who turned in their best 5K times at the NCAA Preliminary.
“Both have natural ability,” Anderson said. “Brooke was able to bounce back, get fit and now it’s been one PR after another. Betsy has the foot speed and she also has the endurance. At this level, it’s a combination of strength, endurance and speed.”
The NCAA Championships begin this evening for the Hawkeyes with junior Erik Sowinski competing in the 800 run at 6:15 p.m.