2007-08 Season Preview

Oct. 16, 2007


Head Coach Larry Wieczorek and the Hawkeyes are looking forward to big things in 2007-08. With few, but significant losses from the 2006-07 men’s track and cross country squads, all areas return a significant amount of experience. The Hawkeyes return several competitors who have achieved individual success. Wieczorek plans for those student-athletes to show a large class of newcomers how things are done at Iowa.

“On paper, this is the strongest team I’ve had from top to bottom, in recent years. It is definitely one of the largest,” said Wieczorek, who is in his 21st season at Iowa. “Losing only four seniors from last year’s squad helped immensely because most of our strength is back. Obviously everyone needs to stay healthy for us to reach our full potential. We are eager to get going.”

Losing only four members of a 54-man roster would be a dream of most coaches, but this quartet made strong contributions to Iowa’s throws, sprints and distances. Adam Hamilton was a two-time all-American and the 2006 Big Ten hammer throw champion. David Pierre was a two-time regional qualifier in the sprints and Jeff Kent was a solid performer in the track distance events and on the cross country team. Senior Kale Katt, who led Iowa in the javelin the past two seasons, will graduate in December and will not compete this year.

The faces who return are what have Wieczorek and his staff so upbeat. The Hawkeyes bring back team-leading performances in 15 of 17 individual events indoors, as well as both complete relays. Iowa also returns all but two team leaders outdoors, as well as one full relay and three legs of the other three. All-American distance runner Eric MacTaggart and Big Ten champions Micah VanDenend (10,000 meters), Shane Maier (indoor shot put) and John Hickey (outdoor shot put) will give the Hawkeyes an immediate presence. Also returning is 2006 Big Ten indoor long jump champion Matty Gorman.

“We had some outstanding individual performances last year,” said Wieczorek. “We also saw solid performances by our freshmen and sophomores, who should be ready to make the next jump this season. Pair those with our rookie class and we should have an exciting year.”

With 26 members, the 2007-08 Hawkeye freshman class is one of the largest in recent school history – outnumbering the sophomore (12) and senior (10) classes combined. The group boasts a combined total of 22 state and 65 conference individual titles. Four-time state champions Matt Banse (throws), Josh Kingery (sprints/hurdles) and Brandon McSkimming (sprints) lead the group, as well as highly-touted sprinter Chris Barton and throwers Ryan Lamparek and Nick Brayton. Banse, Brayton and Lamparek are arguably three of the best throws prospects to ever come out of the state of Iowa.

Part of Iowa’s recent upswing in success is due to the efforts of assistant coaches Scott Cappos and Joey Woody. Cappos is in his 12th season at Iowa, and was named 2007 United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Men’s Midwest Region Throws Coach of the Year. The honor was well-deserved as Iowa has crowned 14 all-Americans and 18 Big Ten champions in the field events, setting school records in those events 14 times in the last 11 years. Wieczorek credits Woody, in his second year with the Hawkeyes, in bringing a nationally-recognized name to the Iowa program. This is evident with the large number of newcomers from the state of Iowa this season.

Big Ten champion Micah VanDenend

The Hawkeyes will also be looking to the football team again for help in a few areas. Sophomore wide receivers Paul Chaney, Jr. and Trey Stross were invaluable components in 2006-07. Chaney, Jr., led Iowa in three sprinting events and ran on one team-leading relay that qualified for the NCAA regional meet. Stross scored points for Iowa in the high jump at both the Big Ten indoor and outdoor meets. Wieczorek hopes freshmen Cedric Everson (sprints), Adam Gettis (throws) and Brayton will contribute as their schedules allow.

“It is an Olympic year,” explained Wieczorek, “so there is usually a little more buzz about track and field across the country. We will also be hosting our 10th annual Iowa Musco Twilight Meet in May and are looking forward to putting on a good show for the Iowa City-Coralville community.”

Here is an event-by-event look at the 2007-08 Hawkeyes:

Chaney Jr., seniors Lee Elbert and Max Milder, junior Prince Riley and sophomore Zach Splan led Iowa in the sprints last season. Chaney Jr. led Iowa in the 60 (6.89) and 200 meters (21.45) indoors, and 200 meters (21.53) outdoors. He placed fourth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 meters at the Big Ten outdoor meet, and ran on the 400-meter relay with Milder, Elbert and senior Aaron Reed that placed eighth at the NCAA Midwest Regional (42.53) to earn all-region honors. Elbert led the Hawkeyes in the 100 meters outdoors (10.61), and ran on the team-leading 1,600-meter and sprint medley relays with Riley. Riley placed fourth in the 400 meters at the conference outdoor meet and seventh indoors, leading the team in that event (46.61) during the outdoor season. Splan led the team in the 600 yards (1:13.62) and 600 meters (1:19.39) indoors.

Newcomers Barton (Sherman Oaks, CA) and Brandon McSkimming (West Des Moines, IA) will make an immediate impact. Barton was a highly-recruited 400-meter runner who chose Iowa over USC, UCLA, Michigan and Wisconsin. McSkimming anchored Valley’s 1,600-meter relay to a state record in 2006, which was ranked 15th in the nation. Kingery (Knoxville, IA) and fellow newcomers Jordan Besco (Council Bluffs, IA), Connor Elmitt (Johnston, IA), Everson (Detroit, MI), Cody Mixon (Galesburg, IL), Kyle Steinbrecher (Davenport, IA), Steven Willey (Onawa, IA) and Travis Yoder (West Liberty, IA) will provide depth across the board.

Sophomores Ray Varner and Frank Prill led Iowa last year. Varner earned all-region honors when he placed eighth in the 400-meter hurdles at the NCAA regional meet. He led the team in that event (50.99), placed third at the Big Ten Championships and competed at the NCAA outdoor meet. Prill led the team in the 60-meter hurdles (8.46) and 110-meter hurdles (14.94). Junior Brice Wilson has experience in the sprint hurdles. Four-time state champion Kingery, and state champions Matt Rammelsberg (Atkins, IA) and Evan Thomsen (Iowa City, IA) are three newcomers who will provide depth.

Big Ten champion Shane Maier

Middle Distance
Sophomore Adam Hairston, VanDenend and sophomore Jesse Luciano led Iowa in the middle distance events last year. Hairston led the Hawkeyes in the 800 meters during the indoor (1:53.20) and outdoor (1:49.99) seasons, qualifying for the regional meet in that event. He earned all-America honors at the USATF Junior National Championships last summer in Indianapolis, placing third in that event (1:50.98). VanDenend, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility in track, posted Iowa’s best mile time of 4:07.54, while Luciano ran the fastest 1,500 meters (3:49.99). Cannon Dolan and Daniel Peoples return for their junior years. Freshman James Paul (Queenston, Canada) leads the newcomers, posting a 3:52.9 in the 1,500 meters. Newcomers Tyler Anderson (Buffalo Center, IA) and Dan Kuhlman (Glen Ellyn, IL) will also compete. Kuhlman led off the Nike outdoor national champion 3,200-meter relay, while Anderson ran on the USATF Junior Olympic champion 3,200-meter relay.

VanDenend’s presence will be a big boost for Iowa. He holds the school 3,000 (8:00.81) and 5,000-meter (13:56.46) records indoors, and Iowa’s outdoor 5,000-meter mark (14:04.79). He won the 2007 Big Ten 10,000-meter title – running that event for the first time in his career – and earned all-region honors in the 5,000 meters. He was Iowa’s only runner to qualify for both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets.

MacTaggart redshirted the 2007 season, and will be looking to build upon the all-America season he had in 2006. MacTaggart and his redshirt freshman brother, Bruce, are one of two sets of brothers in the Hawkeye distance corps. The MacTaggart’s along with Jay and Keith Renaud are the first sets of brothers to compete for the Hawkeyes during the same season since Ricky and Ronnie McCoy in the early 1980’s.

Junior Andy Napier led Iowa in the indoor 3,000 meters (8:23.75) and the outdoor 3,000-meter steeplechase (9:06.65), placing fifth at the Big Ten meet and qualifying for the regional meet in the steeplechase. Junior Tommy Tate led Iowa in the outdoor 3,000 meters (8:31.97). Juniors Heath Moenck and Mike Stout, sophomores Brendan Camplin and Jay Renaud, and newcomers Sam Bailin (Urbandale, IA), Mark Battisa (New Lenox, IL), Robert Ingram (Iowa City, IA) and Danny Liechti (Batavia, IL) will provide depth.

Hamilton and Katt will be missed here, but Big Ten shot put champions Maier and Hickey will lead the group that looks to be strong again for the Hawkeyes. Junior A.J. Curtis broke the school discus record that was older than himself last season with a collegiate-best 202-11. He and former Hawkeye record holder Gary Kostrubala are two of only four student-athletes in Big Ten history to throw over 200 feet in the discus. Senior Ryan Jordan and junior Mark Schaapveld have been consistent performers over the years, and junior Craig Jennings will have to step up in the javelin. Cappos and the Hawkeyes made “clean sweep of the best Iowa high school throwers last year” according to Wieczorek with the addition of Banse (Strawberry Point), Brayton (Iowa City) and Lamparek (Fairfax). The trio own a combined six state and 10 conference titles, while Brayton set the state discus record (192-6) last year. Newcomers Gettis and Zachary Schimp (Marietta, PA) will also contribute.

Jumps/Pole Vault
This looks to be one of Iowa’s largest jump groups in recent years. Gorman’s return will give the Hawkeyes an immediate boost in the long and triple jumps, while Reed led the Hawkeyes in both events last season. Freshman Cody Mixon (Galesburg, IL) will contribute in the horizontal jumps.

The Hawkeyes return all competitors in the high jump, and will add freshman Graham Valdes (Moline, IL). Senior Jeremy Petsche led the team indoors (6-10 1/4), while he and junior Ryan Kelly shared the honor outdoors (6-8 3/4). Stross also competed here, when available, leading Iowa at the Big Ten indoor (fourth) and outdoor (eighth) meets. Sophomore Dan Rolling will compete here and in the multi-events.

Iowa also returns senior Jeff Raymond and sophomore Alex Zona in pole vault. Raymond led the Hawkeyes in that event last year.

Big Ten champion John Hickey

Senior Ryan Niver, junior Bobby Windauer and sophomores Frank Prill, Mark Mankivsky and Rolling return in the heptathlon and decathlon. Niver set the school heptathlon record (4,984 points) in 2006, and placed eighth in the decathlon at the 2007 Big Ten Championships with a team-leading 6,591 points. Prill led Iowa in the hepthatlon with 4,651 points.

Cross Country
Wieczorek and the Hawkeyes have had lots of recent success in cross country. The team has made three straight trips to the NCAA Championships, qualifying four of the last five years. The 2007 Hawkeyes lose their top three finishers from 2006 – Micah VanDenend, Jeff Kent and Eric MacTaggart. Kent graduated, VanDenend’s cross country eligibility expired and MacTaggart will be redshirting the 2007 season in order to fulfill an academic requirement of his music education major, which requires his participation in the Hawkeye Marching Band. VanDenend was the 2006 NCAA Midwest Regional Champion and a three-time all-region performer. He placed third at the 2006 Big Ten Championships, earning first team all-Big Ten honors. MacTaggart is a two-time all-region selection, holds the school and course 6,000-meter record (18:18) and earned second team all-Big Ten honors last year.

In order for Iowa to make a fourth-straight trip to the national meet, everyone will have to step up. Returnees who have played supporting roles in past seasons, will now have to make their way to the forefront and lead the team. Newcomers also need to make an immediate impact.

Junior Andy Napier and sophomore Tommy Tate each led Iowa in a race last season. Tate was the only Hawkeye to compete in all six races, while Napier ran in five. Sophomore Jesse Luciano ran in four races last season. Junior Heath Moenck and sophomores Brendan Camplin, Jay Renaud and Mike Stout will have the opportunity to compete this season, as will redshirt freshmen Bruce MacTaggart and Adam Hairston. Wieczorek is looking for immediate contributions from his newcomers, especially from top recruits Mark Battista and James Paul. Battista won the indoor state 3,200 meters title (9:15) and placed sixth the state cross country meet. Fellow newcomers Sam Bailin, Robert Ingram, Dan Kuhlman, Danny Liechti and Keith Renaud will also need to contribute.

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