ISU Track and Field: 2015 Women’s Preview

2015 Women's PreviewThe Iowa State track and field teams return to the track, Friday, at the Holiday Inn Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Cyclone women return numerous key point earners, also adding a few new faces to the lineup.

13 Student-athletes currently on roster account for a total of 29 spots (11 indoor, 18 outdoor) on the program’s all-time top-10 lists. Here’s a look at the event groups, highlighting the key returners in each event.

Key Departures:
Ese Okoro (1st-team All-American – 400H)
Ejiro Okoro (1st-team All-American – 800m)
Kelly McCoy (honorable mention All-American – high jump)

Throws & Jumps
The marquee name for the Cyclones is returning two-time NCAA and Big 12 champion shot putter Christina Hillman. Hillman enters 2014-15 as the indoor and outdoor program record-holder, having posted the 16 farthest scoring throws in program history. The guys over at Flotrack have the Dover, Delaware, native listed as the overall favorite to take the crown in 2015. Hillman comes into 2015 with a career-best mark of 59’6.75” (18.15m).

Also in the throws events, All-Big 12 hammer-throwers Kayla Sanborn and Anna Holtermann will see the weight-throw ring in the indoor season. Both individuals placed top-8 at the outdoor conference championships in 2014, ranking fourth and ninth in program history at 195’2” and 180’6”, respectively.

The jumps events will debut a pair of new names this season in Marine Vallet and Jhoanmy Luque. Vallet comes to Iowa State from Rennes, France, and Luque is a Carabobo, Venezuela, product. Luque will compete in the long jump and triple jump for the Cyclones, where she holds PRs of 20’5.25” (6.23m) and 42’11” (13.08m), posting the marks this past summer at the World Junior Championships. Vallet will compete with Hannah Willms in the high jump, bringing in a career best of 6’0” (1.83m).

Willms will look to continue her progression in the high jump. The Waterloo, Iowa, native holds an indoor best of 5’11.5” (1.81m) to rank at No. 2 on the program’s all-time list. Willms placed sixth at last year’s indoor and outdoor Big 12 Championships, clearing an outdoor best of 5’9.25” at the LSU Alumni Gold meet last season. Willms will be joined by Katie Reeves, who competed unattached in 2014.

Sprints/Hurdles
Indoor 400-meter record-holder Kendra White headlines the women’s sprint squad. White clocked at 54.11 in her season-opener last season, breaking the mark previously held by Ese Okoro, who graduated last spring.

White ran as a part of the Big 12 champion distance-medley relay team, helping the team to the second-fastest clocking in program history. The St. Louis, Missouri, native moved up to No. 7 on the all-time outdoor 400m list, posting a time of 53.52 at the NCAA West Regional.

Also in the sprint group will be Kaci Storm (junior) and Alyssa Gonzalez (transfer).

Distance
The Iowa State women’s distance squad is one of the deepest in the nation. The event group has won 15 of the last 20 Big 12 indoor and outdoor championship titles dating back to 2010 (Indoor – 3K and 5K; Outdoor – 5K and 10K). The heart of the group ran to the best-ever NCAA cross country finish in program history, placing second at the national meet back in November.

The squad is led by a pair of Big 12 championship runners in senior Katy Moen and junior Crystal Nelson. Moen ran to the outdoor 5K and 10K titles last year, earning second-team All-America honors in the 10K, while Nelson took the individual title at this year’s conference cross country meet. Both earned All-America accolades at the national cross country meet, making Iowa State the only team in the nation with two top-10 individuals (Nelson – 7th, Moen – 8th). The duo accounts for six slots on the program top-10 lists.

Also look for names like Margaret Connelly, Bethanie Brown, Erin Hooker to make the headlines in 2015, as each were key contributors, earning All-Big 12 accolades on the course.

The squad returns four individuals that rank in the program’s top-10 in the 3000m-steeplechase in Colleen Riley (No. 1), Andrea Toppin (No. 3), Perez Rotich (No. 5) and Heidi Engelhardt (No. 7). Maggie Gannon, who ranks at No. 6 on the 1,500m list, will be working her way back from injury as well.

In 2014, the women’s distance squad posted the three fastest DMR times in program history with an ISU record of 11:11.93 at the Armory Collegiate Invitational.

Social Media
Be sure to follow @CycloneTrackXC on facebook, twitter and instagram for notes, stats, pictures and general coverage of the Iowa State men’s and women’s track and field teams.

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About Nick McVey

McVey is a second-year graduate assistant in the Iowa State Athletics Communications department, serving as the primary media contact for Iowa State cross country, track and field and wrestling. He earned his undergraduate degree from Iowa State in statistics in 2013, and has worked in the athletics communications office for just over three years. You can follow McVey on twitter at @nick_mcvey2.
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