Praska Wins Big Ten Title
Feb. 27, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The University of Iowa women's track and field team finalized competition at the 2011 Indoor Big Ten Championships Sunday afternoon. The Hawkeyes finished the two-day competition held at Lambert Fieldhouse on the campus of Purdue University with 56 team points and tied for eighth place. Iowa crowned a first time conference champion in Bethany Praska, the third Iowa indoor champion under Layne Anderson. Ohio State took its first ever team title with 122.5 points.
Praska ran the fastest 600 meters of her career Sunday afternoon in the finals of the event. Praska, a native of Longmont, Colorado, earned the first Big Ten crown of her career with the 1:28.99 run. The first place finish earned the Hawkeyes 10 points in the team race.
Betsy Flood, another Hawkeye veteran, was the runner up in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. The senior ran the two longest races of the day in career record-setting times of 9:23.09 and 16:25.67, respectively. The Des Moines, Iowa native raced into the Iowa record books with her performances at the championships. Flood's 3,000 meters time is sixth, while her finish in the 5,000 meters ranks eighth on Iowa's all-time top performers lists.
Freshman Ashley Liverpool made her debut at the conference championship meet this weekend. Liverpool earned a place in the finals of the 400 meters after her third place finish in the prelims Saturday. The Cincinnati, Ohio native, earned all-Big Ten honors with a second place finish in the finals (54.79) in the finals.
"I am really proud of how these three ladies competed this weekend," Head Coach Layne Anderson said of Praska, Flood and Liverpool. "We had an outstanding weekend, but these were a couple of the highlights. Congrats to Bethany on earning the first Big Ten Championship of her career, and Betsy, finishing runner up in the narrowest of margins (.02 seconds in the 5,000 meters) in the two longest events on the track. Also, Ashley, as a freshman, coming here and placing second in the 400 meters. It was great to see."
Liverpool and Praska were also key components in the team's success in the 4x400 meter relay. Liverpool started on the gun and passed off to senior Tiffany Hendricks for the second leg. Junior Nicole Erickson sprinted the third leg of the race and Praska crossed the finish line in second place with a relay time of 3:40.38. The Hawkeye foursome's mark was faster than the previous Lambert Fieldhouse record time of 3:42.07.
Freshman Erin Jones placed seventh in the 200 meters. The Highland Village, Texas native sprinted to a 24.51 finish, just narrowly missing her personal best time of 24.06.
"It was a total team effort," Anderson said. "Overall it was a great weekend. We made some major steps forward, even though our team finish doesn't reflect all of the improvement we've made. It was a narrow battle this weekend, only 12 points away from the top-4. We left some points out there, but all teams do. Our goal now is to get better as a team outdoors. We hope to have the same success and move a few more people up in the outdoors.