By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Daniel Soto saw an opening and he took it with six laps remaining in the 25-lap men’s 10,000-meter run Friday at the Big Ten Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track.
“Shoot first, ask questions later,” said Soto, a University of Iowa junior from West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley High School. “That’s the mentality I went with.”
Soto knew that regardless of strategy, finishing ahead of Wisconsin senior Morgan McDonald and Indiana sophomore Ben Veatch would be difficult. But he was expecting a faster pace: the pack was on pace for a 29-minute finish through two miles, then McDonald appeared to hit the brakes and the rest of the field followed. The leader completed lap 13 with a time of 15:32 and Soto decided it was his moment to act.
“(Iowa distance coach) Randy (Hasenbank) and I both know that in a 200-meter all-out sprint, who knows where I finish with the rest of those guys?” Soto said. “It could be 15th out of 18. But I definitely have the strength to finish in the top eight.”
Soto moved to the lead with six laps remaining with the goal of distancing himself from as many runners as possible.
“I knew (Veatch and McDonald) were going to go around me at some point, then it became a battle,” Soto said.
He led for more than a mile, then found himself in seventh with 800 meters to go.
“A lot of times coaches say you only have one time leading, you only have one gear in some of these elite-level races, so I used that one gear (with six laps remaining),” Soto said.
After the move, he relied on trust.
“I trusted my training to regain my composure in that last 800 meters and battled with the rest of the dudes to see what I could come up with,” Soto said.
He closed the final 400 meters in 64.5 seconds and finished in sixth place in 29:44.40. He was eighth at the 2018 Big Ten Championships with a time of 30:44.24.
“We were thinking on paper I was going to be around eighth,” Soto said. “It’s all for the team. We have to keep the ball rolling in the right direction and hopefully on Sunday we come out on top.”
Soto scored the first three points of the meet for the Hawkeyes, who are ranked 18th in the nation according to the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
Iowa enters the second day of competition in 11th place (only four events were scored on Friday). Action resumes Saturday at 9:30 a.m. (CT) with the running of the decathlon 110-meter high hurdles.