Head Coach Larry Wieczorek and the Hawkeyes have a lot of recent success to build around for the 2006 cross country and 2007 track seasons. Last season the cross country team recorded its third-straight upper division finish at the Big Ten meet, placed second at the NCAA Midwest Regional and competed at the NCAA Championships for the third time in four years. The track team recorded its highest placings at the Big Ten indoor (7th) and outdoor (4th) championships since 1999, crowned one all-American and three conference champions, and qualified 14 student-athletes for post-season competition in 11 different events.
“I’m very optimistic for the future of our program,” said Wieczorek. “We had many good performers last season. That showed with our finishes at the Big Ten meets. My goals are for the program to continue to grow, improve on our team finishes at the conference and regional meets and add more individual qualifiers for NCAA post-season competition.”
Iowa returns all-Americans Adam Hamilton (hammer throw) and Eric MacTaggart (10,000 meters). Hamilton, a senior, is the defending Big Ten hammer throw champion and joins junior shot putter Shane Maier as Iowa’s returning all-region honorees. The Hawkeyes also return junior Ryan Niver and senior Micah VanDenend who set school records in the heptathlon (Niver), and 3,000 and 5,000 meters (VanDenend) last season.
The Hawkeyes also added Iowa City native and international competitor Joey Woody to the coaching staff. He will work primarily with the sprint and hurdle groups. Woody’s athletic credentials include competing on three United State World teams, winning the silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the 2003 World Championships, winning a gold medal as part of the U.S. 1,600-meter relay at the 1999 World championships and running on the world-record setting 3,200-meter relay in 2000. Woody was a four-time all-American at Northern Iowa, winning the 1997 NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles. He was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame in 2002, and is the only athlete in Drake Relays history to win the Athlete of the Meet award in high school (1992) and college (1994).
Junior Eric MacTaggart
Wieczorek is counting on a class of 14 newcomers to make an immediate impact and provide depth in almost every event. They include sprinters Paul Chaney, Jr. (St. Louis, MO), Austin Glover (Spencer, IA), Ben Friedman (Eagan, MN) and Zach Splan (Naperville, IL), hurdlers Steve Kretschmer (Davenport, IA) and Ray Varner (Wadsworth, IL), distance runners Adam Hairston (Cedar Rapids, IA), Jesse Luciano (Villa Park, IL), Bruce MacTaggart (Glen Ellyn, IL), pole vaulter Alex Zona (Dyer, IN), multi-event competitors Mark Mankivsky (Naperville, IL) and Frank Prill (Chicago, IL), and throwers Troy Naumes (Hoffman Estates, IL) and Jake Villhauer (Iowa City, IA). Bruce MacTaggart is the younger brother of Eric MacTaggart. They are the ninth set of brothers to compete together at Iowa since the 1970’s.
Here is an event-by-event look at the 2006-07 Hawkeyes:
Iowa returns most of the sprinting corps from last season, including three legs (senior David Pierre, junior Max Milder and sophomore Prince Riley) of the 400-meter relay that qualified for the NCAA regional (40.65) and placed third at the Big Ten Championships. Junior Lee Elbert, who led the team in the 60 meters (6.86) during the indoor season, also returns after battling injuries outdoors. The quartet ran on the team-leading 1,600-meter relay indoors (3:13.17), while Pierre and Riley ran on the team-leading relay during the outdoor season (3:11.52). Riley also led the Hawkeyes in the 400 meters (48.54, 47.71), and ran on the team-leading distance medley relays (10:19.26, 9:54.97).
Wieczorek hopes the addition of Paul Chaney, Jr. and Zach Splan will strength these events. Chaney, Jr., a freshman wide receiver for the Hawkeye football team, won the Missouri state 100 (10.52) and 200-meter (21.04) titles. He could immediately replace former Hawkeye David Chaplin, who led the team in the 100 (10.55) and 200 meters (21.49, 21.14). He also and ran relay events. Splan will compete in the 400 and 800 meters.
Sophomore Brice Wilson returns after leading the team in the hurdles. Freshman Ray Varner is a Nike all-American and 300-meter hurdles state champion who could make an immediate impact. His best 110-meter hurdles time of 14.24 would rank sixth on Iowa’s all-time best performers list. Freshman Steven Kretschmer will compete in the 400-meter hurdles.
Senior David Pierre
Wieczorek expects the team to be strong and deep in these events. Junior Davis Linden and sophomore Daniel Peoples are the top candidates to replace Matt O’Hollearn in the shorter middle distance events. O’Hollearn led the team in the 600 and 800 meters indoors last season, and the outdoor 800 meters the last two years. Junior Jake Berns and VanDenend also return. Berns led the team in the mile (4:07.43) last season, while VanDenend posted the team’s best 1,500 meters (3:53.39). Sophomores Alex Webster and Cannon Dolan will add depth here. Freshman Bruce MacTaggart, Jesse Luciano and Adam Hairston are all accomplished high school milers who should make an impact.
The Hawkeyes return lots of experience in the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters, with the duo of VanDenend and Eric MacTaggart leading the pack. In basically his first full season competing with the track team, VanDenend broke Wieczorek’s 38-year-old 5,000 meter record during the outdoor season and set the school 3,000 meter record indoors (8:00.81). He also qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 5,000 meters (13:55.96). All-American Eric MacTaggart returns in the 10,000 meters, and his best time of 28:50.23 is less than six seconds off the school record.
The loss of Dan Haut, Matt Esche, Adam Roche, Brian Rae and Tony Rakaric will be tough to fill, but Wieczorek hopes senior Jeff Kent and sophomores Andy Napier and Blake Schlotzhauer will be up to the challenge.
Two-time Big Ten discus champion Tim Brodersen will be missed, but the Hawkeyes throws program is expected to be as strong and deep as ever. Once again, the team will have experienced youth as Hamilton is the lone senior.
Junior Shane Maier
Hamilton returns in the hammer and weight throws, while Maier will be back in the shot put. The sophomore duo of John Hickey and A.J. Curtis return after outstanding freshman seasons. Hickey is the 2006 USTAF junior national shot put champion and represented the United States at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. Curtis earned junior all-America honors, and will compete in the shot put and discus. Juniors Ryan Jordan and Clint Huntrods, sophomore Mark Schaapveld and freshman Troy Naumes and Jake Villhauer will provide depth. Junior Kale Katt led the team in the javelin last season. He will be joined by sophomore Craig Jennings.
The Hawkeyes return juniors Jeremy Petsche and Ryan Niver in the high jump, and expect redshirt freshman Dan Rolling to make an impact. Petsche led the team in the high jump last season, while Niver posted the best marks in 2005.
With the loss of 2006 Big Ten indoor long jump champion Matty Gorman, junior Aaron Reed will take over the long and triple jump duties for the Hawkeyes.
Junior Jeff Raymond has led Iowa in the pole vault the last two seasons. He will be joined by freshmen Alex Zona and Frank Prill.
One of Wieczorek’s goals for the team has been to develop enough strong competitors in the multi-events so three or four Hawkeyes can be entered at the Big Ten Championships. The team is getting closer to this goal with the return of Niver and sophomore Bobby Windauer. The addition of redshirt freshman Dan Rolling and freshmen Mark Mankivsky and Prill will also help.
Junior Ryan Niver
Niver set the school heptathlon record in 2006 (4,984 points) and led the team in the decathlon the last two seasons. He also placed sixth in the decathlon at the Big Ten Championships last season. Windauer competed during the indoor season last year, posting the fifth-best heptathlon total (3,847) in school history. Prill is a Junior Olympics all-American in the decathlon, while Mankivsky placed second in the first-ever decathlon at the Illinois state meet last season.
The Hawkeye cross country squad has attained new levels of success in recent years. The team has competed at the NCAA Championships three of the last four seasons, recorded upper division finishes at the last three Big Ten meets and ended the last two seasons ranked in the Top 20 nationally. While Iowa’s top two runners from 2005 return in Eric MacTaggart and Micah VanDenend, four of the program’s mainstays (Dan Haut, Matt Esche, Brian Rae and Adam Roche) have graduated. During their careers, the quartet helped the Hawkeye men’s team to three of its four national meet appearances under Wieczorek, as well as it highest finish at the Big Ten Championships (3rd-2004), NCAA Midwest Regional (1st-2002) and NCAA Championships (13th-2004) during his tenure. They also have a combined total of 10 all-region selections and 10 NCAA cross country appearances.
Senior Micah VanDenend
Despite the losses, Iowa returns four of the top seven finishers from the 2005 regional meet – a group Wieczorek is comfortable building around. MacTaggart and VanDenend each earned all-region honors with MacTaggart leading the way in three races and setting the Ashton Cross Country Course 6,000-meter record (18:18). Senior Jeff Kent and sophomore Andy Napier also posted solid races in 2005.
“We will have a strong front-end,” said Wieczorek. “Eric, Micah and Jeff will give us a strong 1-2-3 punch. We need to develop depth as the season progresses and perform as an interchangeable group in order to achieve our team goals. As a squad, we want to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the third straight year, have a strong performance there and finish the season ranked in the top 20 nationally for the third time in as many years.”
The Hawkeyes will need the sophomore class of Heath Moenck, Blake Schlotzhauer and Alex Webster to turn their year of experience into strong supporting performances. Wieczorek also hopes at least one of the three newcomers (Adam Hairston, Jesse Luciano and Bruce MacTaggart) can step in immediately. Redshirt freshmen Brendan Camplin, Jay Renaud, Mike Stout and Tommy Tate will provide depth and get a chance to crack the varsity lineup.