New faces on team show promise

by Zach James

Over the hurdles and around the track the women’s track team comes.

With a new season comes great expectations, not just for one three-time All-American, but also for the rising freshmen who have some big shoes to fill.

“Our look will change as the season goes on,” said Dave Cleveland, head track and field coach. “It’s not only freshmen who are new, but some are juniors who have had prior track experience, just not in college.”

Two of those freshmen are Bayley Fleshner and Hannah Moulds, who are both excited to bring something to the table for the Storm.

“For me, I had a tough senior season, so I want to have a good start my freshman season,” Moulds said.

Fleshner, winner of the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 9.48 in the season’s first meet in Waverly on Jan. 13, said that from here she plans to keep improving.

“I want to keep going up from here, especially starting so well,” she said. “It was a good start, but there’s plenty of season to go.”

Cleveland believes that Fleshner will make an immediate impact.

“I think Bayley will be one of our best hurdlers, and I think she’ll have the potential to be pretty successful in our conference, if not at the national level,” Cleveland said. “It’s a great way to start your career by winning your first meet.”

Along with the youth that Simpson brings to the table, the competition they’ll face over the spring seasons will be tough.

“Realistically, year in and year out, we want to finish in the top three in the conference,” Cleveland said. “Bottom line is that we want to continue to improve each week. We want to give kids the opportunity to show their athleticism by getting them in lots of different kinds of events to see where they can help us the most.”

Cleveland and his coaching staff will not have a difficult time finding women to fill slots in. Depth is a strong point for the women’s team as they have 35 student-athletes on the current roster.

One of the senior veterans of this group is three-time All-American Kinsey Bak. Her resume is as long as they come, but as Cleveland says, there is a lot more for her to accomplish with one more season to go.

“I think her goals are very lofty,” Cleveland said. “We’d certainly like to give her a shot to win a national title. We want to put her in contention to get a win, and not just an All-American.”

Cleveland also believes Bak can accomplish high feats in the pentathlon as well.

“I think she has the potential to become an All-American in this, too,” Cleveland said. “Certainly, she is our leader on the women’s side; she does all kinds of events and I think the girls look up to her.”

Bak isn’t the only leader who will bring a strong presence to the team.

“Once Catie (Ellingson) rejoins the team (for the outdoor season), her presence will be definitely felt,” Cleveland said. “We’ve got some seniors on the distance side who are working hard to get better, so we have many leaders on this team, and not just one.”

Cleveland said the meet at Wartburg was a good way to get the runners out of an off-season mentality.

“I thought we performed well on Friday,” Cleveland said. “Our expectations are to get the kids back from break knowing that they’re not going to feel like they’re ready to compete. It forces them to put the uniform on for the first time and get a meet under their belt.”

Cleveland also believes the meet served as a road map for the rest of the season.

“We now have an idea of where we are at and we can establish workout groups and figure out where we need to be in a month in a half when conference rolls around,” Cleveland said.

The Storm will head to the Dubuque Open on Jan. 28.