Head Coach Larry Wieczorek hopes the 2005 men’s cross country and 2006 men’s track squads will be taking small, incremental steps toward excellence this season. His goal of a comprehensive and well-rounded track team, and perennially strong cross country team are within reach this season.
“Given the experience and talent on this team, I don’t think it’s too much to expect an upper division finish at the Big Ten Championships if everyone lines up,” said Wieczorek. “On paper we have a lot of experience and talent coming back in the throws and distance events. We also have some exciting newcomers in the sprints and hurdles.”
The Hawkeyes return all-American Adam Hamilton and Big Ten discus champion Tim Brodersen in the throws, as well as seven of the top eight runners from the 2004 Hawkeye cross country team that recorded its highest Big Ten (3rd) and NCAA (13th) placing in Wieczorek’s 18 years as head coach. That cross country experience could also mean success for the track team’s distance corps.
Junior Adam Hamilton
Iowa will have some large holes to fill in the sprints and throws. Four-time NCAA qualifier Juan Coleman and two-time qualifier Ryan Strang have graduated from the sprints, as did Derrick Burks, who led the team in the 60 and 100 meters last season. Gone from the throws are Andy Banse, Ken Kemeny, Bill Neumann and Chris Voller. Neumann was a two-time all-American and Big Ten javelin champion, setting the school and Big Ten Championships record in that event. Kemeny qualified for the NCAA Championships in the shot put seven times, while Banse led the team in that event and qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Voller led the team in the hammer throw last season, qualifying for the NCAA Championships in that event and in the weight throw. Also gone from the squad are sprinters Robert Beach, Zach Digney and Omar Isaacs, and middle distance runners Dan Dzibuski, Joe Gajewski and Josh Tweedy.
Wieczorek is counting on a class of 19 newcomers to make an immediate impact and provide depth in almost every event. They include sophomore transfer Lee Elbert (Whittemore, IA) and freshmen Eric Brewster (Port Washington, WI), Brendan Camplin (Batavia, IL), David Chaplin (Stone Mountain, GA), Jordan Cullen (Mt. Vernon, IA), A.J. Curtis (Brodhead, WI), John Hickey (Piermont, NY), Richard Johnson (Oak Forest, IL), Ryan Kelly (Van Horne, IA), Daniel Peoples (Bouton, IA), Jay Renaud (Mt. Prospect, IL), Prince Riley (Oak Brook Terrace, IL), Dan Rolling (Milford, IA), Blake Schlotzhauer (Davenport, IA), Mike Stout (Perry, IA), Tommy Tate (Galesburg, IL), Alex Webster (Delafield, WI), Brice Wilson (Wichita, KS) and Bobby Windauer (Iowa City, IA).
Senior Jason Nolting
“I am very optimistic about this year’s team,” explained Wieczorek. “When you look at the experience we return and add in an exciting and talented group of newcomers, I think we can be strong in all events. The newcomers are a great all-around class, filling every event except the horizontal jumps, and bringing state champions from six different states (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Georgia, New York and Wisconsin). Hickey and Curtis were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the nation in the shot put, and Rolling has been the best high jumper in the state the last two years. We also got a national junior college all-American sprinter in Elbert.”
Of the 54 members of the Iowa track team, 23 are native Iowans. The squad consists of eight seniors, four juniors, 18 sophomores, four redshirt freshman and 21 true freshmen.
“While we recruit nationally, the core of our team will always be the in-state student-athlete,” explained Wieczorek.
Student-athletes from Iowa have always made strong contributions to the Hawkeye squad. Some recent success stories include former Hawkeyes Andy Banse (Strawberry Point), Brad Daufeldt (West Liberty). Banse was a three-time regional qualifier and 2005 NCAA indoor qualifier in the throws. Daufeldt was a four-time regional qualifier in the throws, competing at the 2004 NCAA outdoor meet. The Hawkeyes are also looking for strong performances from sophomore Jake Berns (Monona), juniors Ryan Niver (Mason City) and Shane Maier (Storm Lake), and seniors Jason Nolting (Preston) and Matt O’Hollearn (Johnston) this season.
Here is an event-by-event look at the 2005-06 Hawkeyes:
Senior Tony Rakaric
Wieczorek hopes that a strong crop of newcomers can give the sprints and hurdles group a new look and help revive Iowa’s sprinting tradition, and make the sprints a strong and exciting part of the 2006 team. Seniors Jason Nolting, Matt O’Hollearn and sophomore Max Milder are the lone returnees in these events. Nolting led Iowa in the indoor and outdoor 400 meters last season. Wieczorek is excited by newcomers David Chaplin, Prince Riley and Lee Elbert. All three come in with excellent talent and room to improve. Chaplin was a five-time state champion at Redan High School. Elbert was a three-time state champion for Bishop Garrigan High School in and all-American in the 60 meters at Iowa Central Community College last year. Riley was the indoor and outdoor 400-meter state champion in 2005. The entire sprint group will man the Hawkeye relays. Freshman Brice Wilson won the 2004 Kansas state 110-meter hurdles title, and is expected to make an immediate impact in the sprint hurdle events.
O’Hollearn and sophomores Rob Long and Davis Linden return in the middle distances. Freshman Daniel Peoples will add depth. O’Hollearn led the Hawkeyes in the 800 meters during the 2005 outdoor season, while Linden posted the best indoor time in that event. Freshman Jay Renaud will also contribute.
Wieczorek looks for the distance events to be very strong again. The return of three NCAA qualifiers in seniors Dan Haut and Tony Rakaric, and sophomore Eric MacTaggart is a solid base for this experienced group to build around. Haut led Iowa in the indoor 3,000 meters and two-mile run in 2005. MacTaggart led the team in the indoor and outdoor 5,000 meters. Rakaric led Iowa in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Seniors Brian Rae, Matt Esche and Adam Roche, juniors Micah VanDenend and Jeff Kent and sophomore Jake Berns will be in events ranging from the 1,500-10,000 meters. Freshmen Blake Schlotzhauer and Alex Webster are expected to step in and contribute immediately.
Sophomore Shane Maier
“If all these guys line up to race, this will be the most talented group of distance runners I’ve ever coached,” explained Wieczorek. “There is no reason these guys shouldn’t rewrite the record books with the recent cross country successes they have experienced.”
The Hawkeyes will have to implement their annual reloading process to replace the contributions of Banse, Kemeny, Neumann and Voller, but the cupboard is definitely not empty. In fact, Wieczorek considers these events to be very strong. Iowa returns three NCAA qualifiers in senior Tim Brodersen, junior Adam Hamilton and sophomore Shane Maier. In 2005 Hamilton led the team in the weight throw before redshirting the outdoor season, and Brodersen won the Big Ten discus title and led the team in that event. Sophomore Kale Katt will compete in the javelin, and sophomore offensive lineman Clint Huntrods will throw when the Hawkeyes are out of spring football practice. Freshman A.J. Curtis and John Hickey are nationally ranked competitors, and are expected to make an immediate contribution in 2006.
Sophomores Matty Gorman and Aaron Reed return for their second season with the Hawkeyes. Gorman qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional in the long jump, leading the team in that event and the triple jump. He placed fourth in the long jump and eighth in the triple jump at the Big Ten Championships. Both have a year of experience under their belts and are expected to improve their marks in 2006.
Sophomore Matty Gorman
Sophomores Jeremy Petsche and Ryan Niver return in the high jump, and will be joined by newcomers Dan Rolling, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Cullen. Niver led the team in this event in 2005. Rolling won the 2005 state high jump title with a leap of 6-9 for Okoboji High School.
Sophomore Jeff Raymond returns with a year of experience in the pole vault. He led the Hawkeyes in this event, indoors and outdoors, in 2005. Multi-events competitor Ryan Niver will provide depth. Niver, who set the school heptathlon record in 2005, returns for his second year as a multi-event competitor. Wieczorek feels he has the potential to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the heptathlon and decathlon. To provide depth, Wieczorek is considering moving newcomers Cullen, Rolling and Bobby Windauer to these events.
If the 2004 season was any indication of the state of Iowa’s cross country program, watch out for 2005. Iowa returns almost its entire lineup from 2004, minus team captain Tony Rakaric. The remaining team members bring a wealth of experience to the course, with a combined eight all-region selections between them. Senior Brian Rae, who competed as an individual at the 2003 NCAA Championships, and was an alternate at the 2004 NCAA meet. He will be a strong candidate for Rakaric’s replacement.
Senior Dan Haut
“Essentially, we achieved all of our team goals in 2004,” said Wieczorek. “In fact, we exceeded most. We wanted to finish in the top three at the Big Ten Championships, and we finished third. We wanted to qualify for the NCAA Championships, and we did. We wanted to place in the top 20 at the NCAA meet, and we blew that one out of the water when we placed 13th.”
Iowa christened its new Ashton Cross Country Course by hosting the 2004 Big Ten Championships on Halloween, and is set to host the 2005 NCAA Midwest Regional there on November 12.
“In 2005, we’d like to raise the bar to a higher level and do everything we did last season, and maybe a little more,” said Wieczorek. “A good cross country season should propel us into an even better track season. A chance to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships at home, and the fact that we are hosting two major events back-to-back at Ashton will bring some major excitement to our program.”