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Editor's note: Northeast alumna Morgan Casey is a freshman on the Iowa State cross country and track teams. She regularly blogs throughout the year.

The Big 12 cross country championships may only seem like weeks ago, but the Big 12 indoor track and field meet wasn't waiting around for us, and this past weekend the Cyclones headed to Nebraska one last time to dual it out with the rest of the conference.

Because I haven't pulled my redshirt yet, I stayed behind, and traveled to Lincoln on Friday with Daniel Murray, a fifth-year senior on the team. Qualifying for finals, which would be held Saturday for most events, is the hardest part about the conference meet. Once you get in, it's pretty smooth sailing, but in order to qualify, you must run your prelim as your final and leave nothing undone. Five Cyclones qualified for finals, leaving us in suspense for their final events the following day.

In other events, such as the 5K, the Friday night prelim actually was the final, and our ladies took clear advantage of it. Once again Betsy Saina laid it all out there and ran a spectacular 5K, winning it, and making it look easy. Not far behind Betsy was Dani Stack, who helped us out with a fifth-place finish.

The rest of our day one points came from our throwers of course, who along with Betsy and Dani, never cease to perform meet after meet. In the weight throw Laishema Hampton, Britta Christofferson and Danielle Frere represented us well by placing second, fourth, and eighth. On the men's side Josh Coglin scored third in the weight throw, adding his points to the fourth place distance medley relay team.

Saturday morning I arrived at the track in time to do my long run with Kelli Oettle and Ines Fischer, who were both done competing. They are both mid-distance runners, so we don't get to run together a lot, and I had a great time with them. It was one of the better long runs of the year, and that's saying something!

It's always fun to explore a new city with friends, and running is truly the best way to explore a new place. Lincoln, Neb., is home to the U.S. National Rollerskating Confederation. Had we not ventured out on that snowy morning I never would have known about this important landmark.

When we returned to the indoor track, we were able to witness our own Jamal Currica soar to new heights as he set three new PRs in the pole vault portion of the heptathlon. Jamal was seventh in his event(s). Also scoring for the men were Rico Loy in the 1,000 (4th), and Hillary Bor and Alex Dillenbeck in the mile. They got through to finals, then made the most of what they had when they got there. Great job guys!

Danielle Frere and Hannah Willms scored points for the women in the shot put and high jump, respectively. While we were also represented by Kersten Thorgaard in the 1,000, Kianna Elahi as runner-up in the 600, and the 4x400 team.

Lucy Kennedy, who ran her season's first races this weekend as an attached Cyclone, came from the "slow heat" to nab second in the 3,000. Betsy was in the second heat, usually known as the "fast heat", and placed third. Both heats were equally exciting and both girls worked equally hard did an equally outstanding job at the conference meet!

Other personal highlights of the meet included seeing old faces such as Ashley Miller, Sara Stokes, and the Dinsdale twins from North Tama compete, standing on the podium to receive the awards for the fifth-place distance medley relay that I didn't even run, and trail mix. Now that I live in the dorms I miss being able to bake treats whenever I feel the need to share some goodies, so I came up with a great alternative. I used my leftover meals for the week to go to the dining hall and fill a bag up with assorted cereals, nuts, candies, and snacks, added some popcorn, and created an 18 ingredient trail mix that was good enough to nearly start a riot at the meet over Nicole Engelhardt being an M&M picker.

Trail mix is the perfect thing to share at meets too because it travels well, and even the pickiest of eaters have to find something in there they like. It also makes me very happy when my concoctions get devoured, a trait I inherited from my grandpa.

What made the weekend even better? When the meet was over I met Mike Jay! For those who don't know who that is, Mike Jay coaches cross country and track at Columbus Junction High School, and he also happens to be the voice of the Drake Relays, the Iowa High School state meet, and many other important meets. Essentially, he is the voice of track and field, and I and wanted to meet him since my freshman year of high school at the state meet when I heard him announcing my name for the first time. Mike Jay is passionate about the sport, and for that he is admired by many who feel the same way about the wonderful world that is track and field. Mike Jay has the coolest job ever, and when he is announcing a track meet, the whole meet gets ten times better.

When I shook his hand I was truly star-struck. Meeting someone you never thought you would actually meet, but always wanted to can do that to you I suppose.

In the end, Big 12 meet wasn't bad, but it wasn't quite where we know we can be. There is still a lot for us to do, and I know that we can accomplish these things. It's all just a matter of doing it now. And with our horizons full of passion, excitement, and opportunity, we are certainly on our way.

 

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