Lolo Faces Loaded Hurdles Field, Eyes Rio 2016

By Rob Gray, Reporter

DES MOINES, Iowa — Stacked and loaded.

That's how Des Moines native and two-time indoor world champion 100-meter hurdler Lolo Jones describes the field in which she'll compete at this week's USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium.

Not that there's anything remotely unusual about that.

"It never shocks me," said Jones, who is scheduled to line up for round one at 1:15 p.m. Friday. "Every year, I'm like, 'Wow, man, the hurdles is really deep this year.' Then the next year, I'm like, 'Man, the hurdles are deeper than last year.' I feel like it escalates. Like, when is somebody going to retire or have a kid? Write a book, get out of the system? It's not happened yet, so we've just got to go out there and run."

Jones and a vast array of past and future Olympians will pepper the lists of lane assignments throughout the four-day event, which last unfolded on Drake's blue oval in 2010.

Junior competition begins Wednesday.

Elites start running, throwing and leaping Thursday afternoon.

The event, which determines who will make Team USA for August's IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, runs through Saturday, nudging the international track and field spotlight, once again, toward Iowa's capital city.

"I'm just curious to see the crowd turnout," Jones said. "I know there's been an emphasis on trying to get the same crowd turnout that we have for Drake Relays, so I really hope people come out. That's how we'd get more championships and, hopefully in the future, eventually host an Olympic Trials."

The 30-year-old Jones — who's balancing her heady track ambitions with bobsled-based Winter Olympic Games dreams — already has her sights set on the Rio Games of 2016, as well.

"Even before London (last summer), I knew I would definitely want to go to Rio," Jones said. "Rio will be a nice fit for me."

Drake continues to be, especially since Jones feels healthy entering a race there for the first time in years.

"Every day I go to practice and I'm like, 'Wow, this is so easy not having to deal with coming off of injury or having extra rehab," she said. "I don't know how to describe it. You're just running, you're just free."

And set to join that stacked and loaded field.

Again.

"You can feed off of people's energy and it's one of the most amazing things," Jones said. "So I hate it when girls are running fast, but I also really love it because we're going to run something incredible. So I'm looking forward to it."

UHL-IHMELS CONNECTION IN TACT: Former Iowa State track and field director Corey Ihmels' recent departure for Boise State didn't affect the relationship he has with one of his star pupils, Lisa Uhl.

"I think we'll do some sort-of satellite coaching and then I'll take a few trips out to Boise," said Uhl, a 2012 Olympian in the 10,000 meters running under Nike sponsorship. "You can get close to some decent altitude there."

SOWINSKI RISING: Former Iowa standout Erik Sowinski broke the American record in the 600 meters in the indoor season, running a 1:15.99 in February.

That effort and others helped him earn Nike sponsorship, but otherwise his approach to a race hasn't unchanged.

"I'll just focus on myself and I think good things will happen if I do that," Sowinski said.
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