Yeager to Compete At USA Indoor Track and Field Championships
DES MOINES, Iowa - Drake standout hurdler Sarah Yeager (Ottumwa, Iowa) will showcase her talent on a national stage this weekend at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yeager will compete in the 60-meter hurdles on Saturday, Feb. 22, with hopes of advancing to the semifinals and finals, which take place on Sunday. With only the outdoor season left in her collegiate career, the redshirt senior is aiming to make a name for herself against the nation’s top hurdlers.
The road to the USA Indoor Championships has not been an easy one. During her junior year, an injury resulted in Yeagar taking a redshirt, shaking her confidence and setting her back. In 2013, though, LaRon Bennett was hired as the Bulldogs hurdles coach and immediately helped Yeager reach her potential once again.
“My senior year I got a new coach, Coach LaRon Bennett, and he came in and got my confidence up and he believed me and helped inspire me and really pushed me,” Yeager said.
Now, during her last year at Drake, Yeager has faced a different challenge. Due to her previous injury, Yeager is only eligible to compete with Drake during the outdoor season this year. But that hasn’t stopped Yeager from staying sharp during the indoor season.
For the last few months she has been competing independently as an unattached athlete in an effort to qualify for the USA Indoor Championships. Although adjusting to competing on her own without her Drake teammates took some time, Yeager came through on Feb. 8 at the Husker Invitational to get the time she had been hoping for with a time of 8.47.
“She started the year off really gunning for that and when she didn’t get it the first couple meets I think it made her a little antsy, even though comparing her marks from last year to this year she was definitely ahead of pace,” Bennett said. “So it was basically her technique and we still tweaked the technical side of hurdling and she put it all together at Nebraska and hit it perfect with an 8.47.”
The relief of qualifying a few weeks ago has allowed Yeager to focus on the upcoming meet and prepare herself for the heightened competition. According to Bennett, Yeager’s workouts have been slightly altered, allowing her to run shorter distances to focus on increasing her speed. This week, though, she’s resting to prepare herself for the challenge ahead. This meet will present a new challenge for Yeager, with athletes from around the country competing at the highest level. The highest level of competition that Yeager has faced so far in her career was the NCAA Regional meet last year. But Yeager is confident.
“I’m trying to stay focused and I’ve been visualizing the race for a couple weeks now. Going through every single thing and making sure I have everything down before I get there, so when I get there I can just get in the blocks and I don’t have to worry about anything because I will have already done it a hundred times in my head,” she said.
Yeager’s primary goal of the meet is to race a personal best time, but she’s also thinking longer down the road. Her expectation is that if she does well at the USA Indoor Championship, she will set herself up for good times during the upcoming outdoor season and hopefully defend her MVC 100-meter hurdle title. Bennett agrees that the work that has gone into this meet and the confidence that Yeager will have coming off of it will definitely put her among the top collegiate athletes this season. And for this reason, he couldn’t be prouder.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of her,” Bennett said. “Drake track and field, as a program is starting to understand that it can produce national caliber athletes. And I think in the bigger picture of it, Sarah is one of the pioneers of this generation of athletes that can help bring our program back to a national level.”
Yeager’s 60-meter hurdle preliminary heat is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. CST on Saturday.