Cyclones To Host 23rd Annual ISU Classic
AMES, Iowa – Iowa State will be home to one of the most talented fields in the nation this weekend, as more than 50 teams from more than 20 conferences make the trip to Ames to compete in the Iowa State Classic. More than 100 All-Americans and numerous professional athletes will be competing in this weekend’s event.
For the women, the most anticipated events will be the 400-meter dash, 800-meter run, 3,000-meter run, 5,000-meter run and distance medley relay (DMR). The 800m, mile run, 60m-hurdles, high jump and shot put hold top athletes on the men’s side for the Cyclones.
Kendra White and Ese Okoro will take the stage in a 400-meter field that will feature 10 athletes who have posted times faster than 55 seconds in their careers. Okoro held the program record at 54.54 until this year’s Bill Bergan Invitational, where White ran a 54.11-second quarter mile for the fastest time in school history. The two Cyclones will be pitted against strong competition, including 2012 Olympic gold medalist Diamond Dixon (Kansas), who ran as a part of USA’s 4x400m-relay squad in London.
In the women’s 800m, All-American Ejiro Okoro is slated as the fourth seed. Okoro made her season debut at the Bill Bergan Invitational, winning the race in 2:05.78. The mark is good for eighth nationally. The Birmingham, England, native was an integral part of the record-setting women’s DMR last weekend, running an even-split 2:03 in the 800m leg at the Armory Collegiate Invitational. She will be chasing New Jersey-New York Track Club’s (NJ-NY TC) Cydney Ross, who enters as the top seed with a mark of 2:02.50.
Cyclone freshman Bethanie Brown (3,000m) and senior Samantha Bluske (5,000m) will highlight Iowa State action in the women’s distance events. Brown, a 2013 cross country All-American, won the event at this year’s Bergan Invite with a time of 9:30.20 and is set to face top athletes from both the collegiate and professional level. Top collegiate competition includes Columbia’s Waverly Neer, Butler’s Katie Clark and Texas’ Sara Sutherland, while athletes from Furman Elite, NJ-NY TC and Brooks Beasts make up the professional field.
Bluske is currently sixth on Iowa State’s all-time performers list for the 5,000m run with a mark of 16:37.98. The Chaseburg, Wis., native will look to move up on the list this weekend, as she races against nine athletes with sub-16 minute marks in the event. The field will feature five athletes who earned All-America accolades this past cross country season.
The women’s DMR squad is fresh off an ISU record-setting performance at the Armory Collegiate Invitational, where the group posted a program-best mark of 11:11.93 en route to a second place finish. The time is currently good for ninth in the nation, and the team will look to improve on the mark and notch an NCAA Championship berth. Perez Rotich (1,200m,), Ese Okoro (400m), Ejiro Okoro (800m) and Bethanie Brown (mile) make up the Cyclone lineup.
Edward Kemboi will look to re-attain the nation’s top mark this weekend in the men’s 800m run. Kemboi is currently sixth nationally with a mark of 1:48.14 (Nittany Lion Challenge) and has run as fast as 1:46.06 in his career. He will face eight of the nation’s top-20 competitors in the event, as well as a pair of NJ-NY TC athletes in Declan Murray and Selasi Lumax. 10 athletes in the field are capable of posting sub-1:48 marks in the event. Kemboi will also be running the 800-meter leg of the men’s seventh-seeded DMR squad.
In the men’s mile, Alex Dillenbeck will be in the mix as the Cyclones’ top competitor. Dillenbeck enters the race with a personal best of 4:03.96 set earlier this season. Joining him will be teammate Joe Gioielli. The Iowa State duo will face a great field, with numerous competitors poised to break the 4-minute barrier.
Ryan Sander enters the 60-meter hudles as the No. 2 seed in the field with a personal best of 7.83 seconds. Sander made his season debut two weeks ago, placing third at the Bergan Invite. Nebraska’s Dapo Akinmoladun holds the top mark at 7.69 seconds.
The men’s high jump will feature Cameron Ostrowski, who has cleared 7’1.25” already this season and as high as 7’2.5” in his career. He will go head to head with Kansas State’s Zack Riley, who matches Ostrowski’s career mark.
Third-seeded Jan Jeuschede will look to score points for the Cyclones in the men’s shot put, as the Rosrath, Germany, native takes on a field with three competitors who have thrown to marks of over 60 feet this season. Jeuschede holds a personal best of 60’3” in the event.
It is worth noting that the men’s 5,000-meter run will feature 11 All-Americans, 14 sub-14 minute performers and national contenders in the event, including 2012 Olympian and two-time Canadian national champion Mohamed Ahmed (Wisconsin).