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With season winding down, IU prepares to face the best competition in the nation



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Senior middle distance runner Olivia Hippensteel competes in the 800-meter run in the IU Relays in January in Harry Gladstein Fieldhouse. Hippensteel won the event with a time of 2:08.93 and moved into 10th all time in IU history. Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

IU women’s track and field has reached an important stretch in its season as the Hoosiers prepare for the Penn Relays at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. 

This meet features some of the best teams in the nation including Villanova, Georgetown and Nebraska. 

IU Coach Ron Helmer said meets like this are always a mixed bag. He said although the Penn Relays showcase the best talent in the nation, there is still lots of variation in competition on an event-by-event basis.

Helmer cited Villanova and Georgetown as highly competitive middle distance relay teams and also said Penn State should do well given its indoor Big Ten Championship title this season.

“It’s the best teams in the nation competing this weekend, and we are right there with them, so anything can happen,” Helmer said.

Helmer said another reason the competition could be unpredictable this weekend and in the rest of the season is that the demands of student workload as the school year winds down could have an effect on performance.

“Every team is in the last several weeks of school, these kids are taking exams and finishing projects, lots of them end up getting worn out,” Helmer said. “With all this going on it becomes harder to compete compared any other time of the year.”

For this exact reason, Helmer decided to rest many of the team’s top athletes by not sending them to various meets in previous weeks and having them continue their training cycle at home instead. 

“Competing is very important but so is rest,” Helmer said. “At a really important time like this, we need to do our best to prevent injuries and make sure these kids don’t get tired out. We have to make sure the athletes are ready to perform at their best when it really counts.”

As always, Helmer said he will keep the game plan simple for his athletes.

“We just have to see who shows up this year and who is prepared to work hard,” Helmer said. “The team is really excited because they know this meet is one of the most competitive of the season, and they are in the hunt for some wins.”

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