IU is wrapping up the regular season with one last home meet. The Hoosiers will compete in the Billy Hayes Invitational on Friday at the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex.
Sophomore middle distance runner Kendell Wiles said she feels more comfortable competing at the home track, and that it’s definitely a big deal for her.
“I always love racing there, I wish we could do it more often,” Wiles said. “You kind of take it for granted in indoor when you compete at home every weekend, but I really like competing at home in outdoors.”
IU Coach Ron Helmer is taking a big-picture approach to this meet. He said some of his athletes are well within qualifying range for regionals may sit out this weekend to get a weekend off before the Big Ten Championships next weekend.
However, plenty of athletes on the team enter the meet needing a big mark. Helmer identified senior distance runner Owen Skeete and junior distance runner Joe Murphy in the 1,500 meter, sophomore middle distance runner Jordan Huntoon in the 800 meter, junior jumper Ari Nelson in the long jump, freshman sprinter Markevious Roach in the 400 meter, and the men’s and women’s 4x400 meter relays as athletes needing to improve in the next two weeks.
“Those are the people that are just on the outside right now looking in,” Helmer said, “who all have the ability to improve enough to secure their spot in the NCAA first round.”
For most of the season, Helmer has emphasized the big goal for the team to continually progress and improve. As it’s gotten later in the season, Helmer acknowledged the mindset has shifted a little bit toward results, but he said the results still come for the athletes that work to improve.
“I still believe that in order to be successful in this sport, you have to be more process-based than anything else,” Helmer said. “You’ve got to continue to do the things that you need to and trust that the performances are going to come. The people that get in trouble are those who get so caught up in what the performance is going to look like that they forget to execute with composure and relaxation.”
Last week at the Drake Relays, the Hoosiers suffered a tough blow to one of their top performers. Senior multi athlete Dylan Anderson was off to a strong start in the decathlon and had a lead during the first day of the event. But when he competed in the pole vault, he missed the mat with his pole and fell hard.
After falling, Anderson attempted to compete in the javelin throw, but was unable to do so successfully and dropped out of the decathlon. He later learned he had fractures in four parts of his vertebrae and would be out for the rest of the season. He said the fractures will take six weeks to heal, and it will be three months before he’s back to full strength.
Anderson competed at nationals for heptathlon during indoor track the past two years and was named a second-team All American both times. He was on his way to competing at regionals this year, as he was 29th on the qualifying list in pole vault.
Anderson was understandably devastated when he heard the news.
“This isn’t how anything was supposed to happen in my plan. I had my coach and my trainer with me, and they were supportive. We’re all just glad that I’m not going to be injured for the rest of my life.”
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