Track And Field Begins 2013-14 Season On Friday
The Drake University men’s and women’s track and field teams begin their indoor season Friday at the Iowa State Holiday Preview in Ames, Iowa. Action at Lied Recreation Center gets underway at 2 p.m. with field events while track events begin at 4 p.m.
With months of training and preparation under their belts, the Bulldogs are poised and ready to strive to compete at a level of excellence this season.
“We’ve really been pushing them to think bigger and better and really deliver excellence,” head coach Natasha Kaiser-Brown said. “We stepped the fall training up – we made it a little more difficult – just in preparation so that it’s harder in practice than it is in competition, and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
The Bulldogs are strong on the men’s side, with top returners both in distance and sprints. Missouri Valley Conference champion Brogan Austin (Boone, Iowa) leads the distance squad along with sophomore Rob McCann (Mississauga, Ontario), freshman Reed Fischer (Minnetonka, Minn.), senior Doug Brady (Englewood, Colo.) and junior Conor Wells (Des Moines, Iowa) completing the core group. Seniors Ian Wells (Champaign, Ill.) and Brett Wright (Longmont, Colo.) return for sprints, with sophomore James Saxton (La Crosse, Wis.) rounding out the middle-distance runners as the team’s top returner in the 800 meters.
“It’s a good group. There’s not necessarily a lot of depth, but there’s a lot of strength and a lot of talent so that hopefully will get us those higher points,” Kaiser-Brown said. “Our impact really has to come from the people that were returning conference scorers stepping up their game and then the younger group filling in those gaps.”
The women’s team finds itself in a transition period with the losses of graduated seniors Marissa Smith and Briana Isom-Brummer. But strong underclassmen will fill the gaps left behind and hopefully help the team rebuild from those losses.
Freshmen Sammy Nielsen (Maplewood, Minn.) and Erica Bestul (Apple Valley, Minn.) join sophomores Taylor Scholl (Prior Lake, Minn.) and Emma Huston (Des Moines, Iowa), junior Krista Maguire (Wausau, Wis.) and senior Erin Poss (Antioch, Ill.) for the distance team. Seniors Tiara Winston (Denton, Texas), Danyelle Cole (Kansas City, Kan.) and freshman Jessica Campbell (West Des Moines) will lead in sprints. Sophomores Ashley Clay-Johnson (Chicago, Ill.) and Destani Welch (Des Moines, Iowa) are set to pick up hurdles, after performing behind all-conference performers Marissa Smith and Sarah Yeager (Ottumwa, Iowa) last season. Yeager will make her season debut in the spring, after forgoing the indoor season.
In the field events, senior Andy Curtis returns along with freshman Michael Dolan (Lincolnshire, Ill.) who’s learning the hammer throw under new assistant coach Isaac Twombly, Drake’s former All-American thrower who graduated last year. David Silkman (Leawood, Kan.), a sophomore, is set to throw javelin for the Bulldogs, as senior Phil Beeler (Lenexa, Kan.) continues to recover from surgery in the off-season. Sophomore high jumpers Ryan Cook (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who won the MVC outdoor title, and Scott Goad (Dixon, Ill.) will be key assets to the Bulldogs in field events, along with freshman long jumper Jonathan Osifuye (Woodbury, Minn.), who will fill the void left by graduated senior Dan Karys. Sophomores Kayla Bell (Bollingbrook, Ill.) in the triple jump and Jaclyn Aremka (Plainfield, Ill.) in the high jump will help represent the women’s team in the field events.
The Bulldogs are poised and prepared to embark on a season of chasing excellence, according to Brown. “We’ve really been taking everything to a different level as far as just working hard, work ethics, mental toughness, just trying to instill that in them now so when they get to those competitions it’s already there. So it’s about just being excellent every day.”