Hawkeyes Head To Big Ten Championships

May 13, 2008

THIS WEEK — The Iowa men and women’s track teams will compete at the Big Ten outdoor championships, Friday through Sunday, in Champaign, IL. All events will be held at the Illinois Soccer and Track Stadium on the University of Illinois campus. Competition is scheduled to start at Noon Friday, 9:30 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday (CT).

Tickets are available from the University of Illinois Athletic Ticket Office at (866) 455-4641 or (217) 333-3470. All-session tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for youth and students. Single-session tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for youth and students.

ON THE AIR — The Big Ten Network will air a tape-delay telecast of the championships on May 22 at 7 p.m. (CT).

ALEXANDER GOES FOR SIX — Senior Kineke Alexander will try to defend her Big Ten outdoor 400-meter title this weekend, as well as rewrite the Hawkeye record books. If she is successful, the five-time Big Ten champion from Mesopotamia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, will be the only Hawkeye in women’s school history to win six conference titles. Her season-best 400-meter time of 54.52 ranks sixth in the Big Ten.

Alexander won the 2007 Big Ten outdoor 400 meters (52.15). The seven-time all-American also won the 200 and 400 meters at the 2006 and 2007 conference indoor meets. Hampered by a hamstring strain this season, she has only competed at three outdoor meets. She and former Hawkeye Peaches Roach are the only women’s track and field student-athletes to win five Big Ten titles. Roach won all her titles in the high jump between 2004-07.

HICKEY LOOKS TO DEFEND SHOT PUT TITLE — Hawkeye junior all-American John Hickey will try to defend the Big Ten shot put title he won at the 2007 outdoor meet. Hickey, who also won the 2008 conference indoor title (61-9 3/4), is Iowa’s sixth Big Ten shot put champion and 29th two-time conference winner. Only 33 Hawkeyes, in men’s track school history, have won three or more Big Ten titles, and only four of those have won field event titles.

Hickey’s season-best mark of 61-9 1/2 ranks second in the Big Ten and the nation, and fifth in school history. He is only the fifth Hawkeye to throw over 60 feet in the event.

Iowa has had a stronghold on the top two finishes at the last three conference meets in the shot put, as Hickey won the 2008 indoor and 2007 outdoor titles while senior Shane Maier placed second. At the 2006 indoor meet the finish was reversed as Maier won the title and Hickey placed second.

HAWKEYES BIG TEN OUTDOOR HISTORY — The Iowa men’s team has won two Big Ten outdoor team championships (1963, 1967) and 166 conference titles – 55 in individual running events, 39 in field events and 72 in relays – since the first meet was held in 1901.

Two former Hawkeyes hold a spot in the conference record books. In 1997, Bashir Yamini tied the long jump record of 26-8 1/4, set in 1935 by Ohio State’s Jesse Owens. Jon Reimer holds the retired 330-yard hurdles record of 36.1, set in 1965. The Hawkeye men’s team has had four student-athletes earn conference individual outdoor track honors. Pat McGhee is the lone Hawkeye to earn two awards in the same season, being Male Athlete of the Year and Athlete of the Championships in 1989. Other outdoor honorees were Anthuan Maybank (1993 Athlete of the Year), Jeremy Allen (1998 Freshman of the Year) and Tim Dwight (1999 Athlete of the Championships).

The Iowa women’s squad has yet to win a Big Ten outdoor team title, but has crowned 27 conference champions since the first meet in 1982 – 11 in individual running events, four in field events and 12 in relays.

Two Hawkeyes have earned Big Ten Outdoor Freshman of the Year honors. They are Erica Broomfield (1998) and Peaches Roach (2004). Iowa’s highest finish at the conference outdoor meet was third (89 points) in 2004.

2007 BIG TEN OUTDOOR REVIEW — The Hawkeyes crowned four individual champions at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in University Park, PA. The Hawkeye women’s team placed fifth with 81 points, while the men’s team placed seventh with 74.5. It was the women’s highest finish in 13 years and under late Head Coach James Grant. Their previous highest finish was fourth place in 1994. Senior Peaches Roach, junior Kineke Alexander, senior Micah VanDenend and sophomore John Hickey each won individual event titles.

Roach won her fifth conference title in the high jump with a leap of 6-0, while Alexander won her fifth individual Big Ten title with a season-best and regional qualifying 52.15 in the 400 meters. The duo are Iowa’s 60th and 61st Big Ten champions and the only Hawkeyes in women’s school history to win five conference titles. This title was Alexander’s first at the Big Ten outdoor meet, and it was the first time she ran the outdoor 400 meters in 2007.

VanDenend won Iowa’s 165th Big Ten outdoor title, placing first in the 10,000 meters in 30:28.50. VanDenend, who ran the event for the first time in his career, was the first Hawkeye distance runner to win a Big Ten title at either the indoor or outdoor conference meet since 1994 when Kevin Herd won Iowa’s other 10,000-meter conference title (30:05.21). Hickey won the shot put with a throw of 58-4 1/2. He is Iowa’s third outdoor shot put champion.

Several Hawkeyes posted strong performances at the event. Sophomore Renee White broke her own triple jump school record with a runner-up finish of 42-1 1/2. She is the first Hawkeye in women’s school history to leap over 42 feet in that event. Senior Adam Hamilton (hammer throw), junior Diane Nukuri (5,000 meters) and sophomore A.J. Curtis (discus) also provided runner-up performances for Iowa.

WOMEN’S TRACK SIGNS 2008 CLASS — The Iowa women’s track team has signed five student-athlete distance runners for the 2008 season. Lindsay Anderson (Leeds, ND), Betsy Flood (Des Moines, IA), Brooke Eilers (Holland, MI), McKenzie Melander (Apple Valley, MN) and Danielle Berndt (Bloomington, MN) will all be joining the Hawkeyes.

Anderson, sister of Hawkeye distance runner Krista Anderson, is a two-time North Dakota Gatorade Athlete of the Year. She is an 11-time state champion, winning four titles in cross country, five in the 1,600 meters and two in the 3,200 meters. She is a three-time Footlocker National High School Cross Country meet qualifier. Flood is one of the top all-around prep runners in Iowa, winning state titles in the 800 and 1,500 meters and the distance medley relay. She is a member of the AAU record setting 3,200 meter relay team. Eilers has received all-state accolades in cross country and track. Melander posted a state runner-up performance in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters in 2007. Berndt placed second in the state 3,200 meters (10:49) and fourth at the state cross country championships. She is also an excellent nordic skier having recently qualified for the national championships in Alaska.

MEN’S TRACK SIGNS 2008 CLASS — The Hawkeye men’s track program has signed five student-athletes to its 2008 recruiting class. Head Coach Larry Wieczorek announced the signing of Zack Braff (Marion, IA), D’Juan Richardson (Indianapolis, IN), Thomas Reynolds (Coralville, IA), Nick Holmes (Bartonville, IL) and Patrick Richards (Colorado Springs, CO) to national letters of intent.

Braff is one of the top returning 800-meter runners in the state. He placed fourth in that event at the state meet last season, and boasts a personal-best of 1:53.60. He anchored Linn-Mar’s sprint medley relay to a fourth-place finish at the Drake Relays last month with a 1:54 800-meter split. Braff chose Iowa over Iowa State, Arkansas and Northern Iowa.

Richardson ran sprints and hurdles on the 2007 state champion Warren Central High School team. He won the 2008 state 55-meter hurdles title (7.41), placing third in the 110-meter hurdles (14.08) and the intermediate hurdles (37.4) at the state meet last season. He is currently ranked in the top 15 returning 110-meter hurdlers in the nation, and his current outdoor best time of 13.96 ranks in the top 10 nationally.

Reynolds was a thrower on the 2007 state champion Iowa City West High School team. He won the discus (191-0) and placed third in the shot put (54-8 1/4) at the 2008 Drake Relays. Reynolds placed third in the discus (176-11) at the 2007 state meet.

Holmes was selected Athlete of the Meet at the 2008 Illinois Prep Top Times Classic, winning the indoor mile with a meet record-setting 4:13.72. He also won the 2007 state 2A cross country championships for Limestone High School (14:21 – three miles), beating the runner-up by 27 seconds.

Richards was runner-up at the 2007 Colorado state track meet in the 200 (21.55) and 400 meters (47.66). His current 400-meter time currently ranks 34th in the nation and third in the state. Richards, who competes for Widefield High School, chose Iowa over Arizona, Penn State and Nebraska.

HAWKEYES BREAK RECORDS — The Hawkeye women’s team has broken five school records this outdoor season.

Senior distance runner Diane Nukuri broke the 3,000 and 10,000 meter records in April, and ran the lead leg on the record-setting 6,400-meter relay at the Drake Relays in April. Nukuri smashed the 17-year-old 10,000 meter record of 33:23.38 set in 1991 by Jennifer Brower at the Stanford Invite. Nukuri’s second-place finish of 33:17.01 also automatically qualified her for the NCAA Championships in Des Moines in June. She also broke the 3,000-meter mark of 9:20.61 set in 1985 by Penny O’Brien at the Hawkeye Invite. Nukuri won the race win 9:18.82.

Junior Racheal Marchand, graduate student Sarah Henize and senior Meghan Armstrong ran the other three legs of the record-setting relay, posting a 19:15.42 for third place at Drake. Their time smashed the previous record of 20:39.12 – set in 2005 by former Hawkeyes Nikki Chapple, Jordan Laney, Katie Donlon and Michelle Sokol – by over one minute.

Junior Renee White broke her own triple jump record April 12 at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, AZ. Her winning mark of 42-4 broke the record of 42-2 1/2 she set last season.

BIG TEN ATHLETES OF THE WEEK — Seniors Meghan Armstrong and Diane Nukuri, and junior Andy Napier have earned Big Ten Athlete of the Week honors this outdoor season.

Armstrong earned her honor Mar. 25 after winning the Shamrock Invite 1,500 meters in a regional-qualifying 4:26.62. She was also the first Hawkeye track student-athlete to earn the honor in women’s school history.

Nukuri earned her honor April 8 after breaking the 17-year-old school 10,000-meter record at the Stanford Invite in 33:17.01. That time beat her previous-best clocking by over 13 seconds and automatically qualified her for the NCAA Championships. Nukuri is a four-time Big Ten Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week honoree.

Napier earned his first conference honor April 8 after winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Auburn Tiger Classic with a regional-qualifying and collegiate-best time of 9:03.85. The mark also ranks seventh on Iowa’s all-time best performers list.

ARMSTRONG, MACTAGGART EARN HONORS — Senior Meghan Armstrong and junior Eric MacTaggart were recent recipients of two of the University of Iowa’s most prestigious annual athletic awards.

MacTaggart was named the men’s Robert F. Ray Award winner, while Armstrong was selected the women’s Big Ten Medal of Honor winner. A male and female Hawkeye student-athlete are annually selected for the awards.

The Robert F. Ray Award is presented annually at the UI Finkbine Dinner to senior student-athletes who will complete their eligibility and have demonstrated outstanding academic excellence, athletics excellence and leadership. MacTaggart is an all-American distance runner and a three-time academic all-Big Ten honoree. He missed the 2007 cross country season in order to participate in the Hawkeye marching band, which is a music education requirement. A trombone player from Glen Ellyn, IL, MacTaggart earned an “Outstanding Jury” award from the School of Music.

The Big Ten Medal of Honor goes to a graduating student-athlete at each Big Ten institution who has demonstrated proficiency in scholarship and athletics. Armstrong is a three-time all-American and five-time academic all-Big Ten honoree in cross country and track.

LAST TIME OUT — The Hawkeyes crowned 11 champions and posted five regional qualifying performances (May 3) at the 10th annual Iowa Musco Twilight meet at Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track in Iowa City, IA. A total of six meet records fell during the five-team co-ed event, and 28 competitors posted regional qualifying marks.

Hawkeye seniors Max Milder, Lee Elbert, Shane Maier, Mark Schaapveld, Aaron Reed, Monica Mims and Kineke Alexander all won events in their finals appearances at Cretzmeyer Track. Milder was a three-time winner, taking titles in the 100 (10.85) and 200 meters (21.97) and running the lead leg of the winning 400-meter relay. Alexander, Elbert, sophomore Ray Varner and freshman Chris Barton each won two events. Alexander won the 400 meters with a regional qualifying 54.52 and ran the second leg on the winning women’s 1,600-meter relay. Elbert anchored the 400-meter relay and ran the second leg of the winning men’s 1,600-meter relay. Varner won the 400-meter hurdles with a regional qualifying 52.16, and ran the third leg of the 1,600-meter relay. Barton won the 400 meters (47.54) and anchored the 1,600-meter relay. Maier won the discus with a collegiate-best 178-7, which improved his previous regional qualifying mark. Schaapveld won the hammer throw with a collegiate-best 179-9. Reed anchored the winning 400-meter relay, while Mims ran the first leg of the 1,600-meter relay.

Iowa’s other event winners were junior Racheal Marchand and freshmen Steven Willey, Brandon McSkimming, Tiffany Hendricks and Bethany Praska. Marchand set a meet record with the winning, collegiate-best and regional qualifying 16:27.02 in the 5,000 meters. Willey, Hendricks and Praska each ran on the winning 1600-meter relay, while McSkimming ran on the winning 400-meter relay.

Maier and junior A.J. Curtis both improved their previous regional qualifying performances in the shot put and discus. Curtis placed second in the discus (177-2) and shot (58-1 3/4), while Maier placed third in the shot put (57-5).

Seniors Diane Nukuri and Meghan Armstrong regionally qualified in the 5,000 meters at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational, hosted by Stanford University, by placing seventh and tenth, respectively. Nukuri and Armstrong recorded career best times of 15:59.39 and 16:08.83. These times rank second and third all-time at Iowa.

LUCIANO, CROSS COUNTRY TEAMS EARN ACADEMIC HONORS — The Iowa men and women’s cross country teams recently earned academic all-America honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCA). The men’s team earned a team grade point average of 3.20. The women’s team had a combined GPA of 3.32.

Individually, sophomore Jesse Luciano was one of 56 student-athletes to be named to the academic all-America team. In order to be eligible for academic all-America status, the student must carry a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 and completed a minimum of 24 semester hours through the 2007 fall semester. The student-athlete must also finish in the top 15 or top 10 percent at the NCAA regional meet or receive all-America honors. Luciano is a health and sport studies major who placed 15th at the regional meet.

The Hawkeye men’s team also was publicly recognized by the NCAA in its annual Academic Progress Rate (APR) report last month. The APR awards are given to teams for their latest multi-year Academic Progress Rate scores. Head Coach Larry Wieczorek squad posted multi-year APR scores in the top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sports. The public recognition awards are part of the broad Division I academic reform effort. The APR provides a real-time look at a team’s academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR includes eligibility, retention and graduation in the calculation, which provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport. High-performing teams receiving awards posted APR scores ranging from 965 to a perfect 1,000.

2008 MEN’S TEAM CAPTAINS NAMED — Seniors Shane Maier, Max Milder and Micah VanDenend are team captains for the 2008 season. Maier and VanDenend both served as captains last season. Maier, from Storm Lake, IA, is the defending Big Ten indoor shot put champion and a two-time all-region honoree. He and four other Hawkeye throwers hold the school record for most times qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional (4). VanDenend, a native of Glenbard, IL, is the defending Big Ten 10,000-meter champion and won the 2006 NCAA Midwest Cross Country Regional title. The three-time all-region honoree currently holds four of Iowa’s school distance records. Milder, a sprinter from Council Bluffs, IA, is a two-time regional qualifier, earning all-region honors as part of the 400-meter relay last season.

NEXT COMPETITION — The Hawkeyes will send student-athletes who meet the qualifying standards to the 2008 NCAA Midwest Regional, May 30-31 in Lincoln, NE. All events will be held at Ed Weir Stadium on the University of Nebraska campus. All-session tickets are $20 and single day tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for seniors and high school students and younger. Tickets can be ordered from the University of Nebraska Athletic ticket office at 800/8244 or www.drakebulldogs.org.

The Midwest region will feature 39 schools from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. The top five finishers in each individual event and the top three relays from each of the four regionals will automatically advance to the NCAA Championships, to be held June11-14 in Des Moines, IA. The other three regions are the West (40 men’s teams, 42 women’s teams), the Mideast (78 men’s teams, 81 women’s teams) and the East (110 men’s teams, 112 women’s teams).

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