Hawkeyes Head To Midwest Regionals

May 27, 2008

THIS WEEK — The University of Iowa men and women’s track and field teams will send 14 student-athletes to the NCAA Midwest Regional, Friday and Saturday 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 800/824-4733 or www.huskers.com.

NCAA POST-SEASON QUALIFIERS — Fourteen Hawkeyes have qualified for the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. Seniors Diane Nukuri and Meghan Armstrong automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 10,000 meters, while junior Racheal Marchand provisionally qualified in that event. Senior Tammilee Kerr also automatically qualified in the heptathlon. The national meet will be held June 11-14 in Des Moines, IA. Their event, qualifying marks and where they rank in the region and nation are listed below.

                                      Region/NCAAName        Event - Mark                    RankingKineke Alexander 400 Meters - 53.59                    9th/40thMeghan Armstrong 1,500 Meters - 4:26.62          19th/84th        5,000 Meters - 16:08.83         5th/9th        10,000 Meters - 33:28.00        */7thA.J. Curtis Discus - 177-2 (54.00 m)        11th/53rd        Shot Put - 59-8 1/4 (18.19 m)   5th/28thJohn Hickey   Shot Put - 61-9 1/2 (18.83 m)   2nd/14thRyan Kelly High Jump - 6-10 3/4 (2.10 m)   21st/43rdTammilee Kerr   Javelin - 163-5 (49.81 m)       7th/17th        Heptathlon - 5,532 points       */17thShane Maier   Discus - 178-7 (54.43 m)        8th/46th        Shot Put - 59-4 1/4 (18.09 m)   6th/31stRacheal Marchand 5,000 Meters - 16:27.02         7th/33rd        10,000 Meters - 34:11.98        #/20thAndy Napier   3,000 Steeplechase - 8:58.21    10th/46thDiane Nukuri 5,000 Meters - 15:59.39         4th/6th        10,000 Meters - 33:17.01        */3rdJeremy Petsche High Jump - 6-10 3/4 (2.10 m)   21st/43rdJessica Schmidt   3,000 Steeplechase - 10:27.18   12th/32ndRay Varner 400-Meter Hurdles - 51.27       11th/35thRenee White   Triple Jump - 42-4 (12.90 m)    12th/29th        Long Jump - 19-10 3/4 (6.06 m)  25th/84th
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NCAA MIDWEST REGION FACTS — The NCAA Midwest Regional is one of four qualifying meets for the NCAA Championships to be held June 11-14 in Des Moines, IA. The top five finishers in each individual event and the top three relays from each of the four regionals will automatically advance to the national meet.

The Midwest regional features 39 schools from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. The other three regions are the West in Northridge, CA, (40 men’s teams, 42 women’s teams), the Mideast in Fayetteville, AR, (78 men’s teams, 81 women’s teams) and the East in Tallahassee, FL, (110 men’s teams, 112 women’s teams).

HAWKEYE REGIONAL FACTS — In the six-year history of the NCAA Midwest Regional, the Hawkeye women’s team has sent 89 qualifiers to the meet and crowned two champions and 32 all-region selections. The men’s team has sent 85 qualifiers and crowned one champion and 19 all-region honorees. Iowa’s regional champions were Kineke Alexander (400 meters – 2006 and 2007) and Bill Neumann (javelin – 2003).

The Hawkeye men posted their best finish – 15th – in 2004, while the women’s team tallied their highest placing – eighth – last season.

Alexander, and former Hawkeyes Tiffany Johnson and Peaches Roach hold the women’s school record for times qualified to the regional meet in a career. All three are 10-time qualifiers. Alexander qualified in three events in 2005, four in 2006, two in 2007 and one this season. Johnson advanced in three events in 2005 and 2007, and four events in 2006. Roach qualified in three events in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and one event in 2004. The Hawkeye women posted the most qualifiers in school history in 2007 (21). In all the events, the Hawkeyes have qualified the most in the 5,000 meters (8).

Hawkeye senior Shane Maier and junior A.J. Curtis hold the men’s school record for most times qualified for the regional. Both are six-time qualifiers. Maier has qualified in the shot put four times (2004, 2006-08) and discus twice (2006, 2008) and Curtis has qualified in the shot put and discus three times the past three seasons(2006-08). The men posted the most qualifiers in school history in 2004 (18), and have qualified the most student-athletes in the shot put (16).

2007 NCAA MIDWEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS REVIEW — The Iowa women’s squad crowned two champions and posted its highest team finish ever at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Des Moines last year. Senior Tiffany Johnson and junior Kineke Alexander won individual race titles, leading the Hawkeyes to an eighth place finish with 34.50 points – their highest finish in the five-year history of the meet. The Hawkeye men’s team placed 16th with 19 points. In all, Iowa crowned 15 all-region honorees and advanced five automatic qualifiers to the NCAA Championships.

Johnson became the second regional champion in women’s school history when she won the 100-meter hurdles in 13.22. That time was only .02 off her collegiate best and the school record she holds in that event. By successfully defending her 2006 regional title in the 400 meters, Alexander became Iowa’s first two-time regional champion. She won the race in 52.34. Junior Shane Maier was the Hawkeye men’s top finisher, placing second in the shot put with a season-best 58-6 1/2. Junior Meghan Armstrong was Iowa’s fifth automatic NCAA qualifier, placing fifth in the 1,500 meters (4:21.56).

Earning all-region honors for Iowa during the two-day meet were seniors Adam Hamilton (hammer), Peaches Roach (high jump), Micah VanDenend (5,000 meters), Becca Franklin (hammer), Johnson (100-meter hurdles) and Lee Elbert (400-meter relay), juniors Racheal Marchand (5,000 meters), Armstrong (1,500 meters), Diane Nukuri (1,500 meters), Maier (shot put), Alexander (400 meters), Max Milder (400-meter relay) and Aaron Reed (400-meter relay), and freshmen Paul Chaney, Jr. (400-meter relay) and Ray Varner (400-meter hurdles).

HAWKEYES BREAK RECORDS — The Hawkeye women’s team has broken sixschool 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. 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.

Senior Tammilee Kerr broke her own school hepathlon mark at the Big Ten Championships. Her two-day point total of 5,532, which automaticaly qualified her for the NCAA Championships, makes her the only Hawkeye in school history to total over 5,500 points in the event.

Senior Jessica Schmidt also broke her own mark in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Schmidt’s 10:27.18 at the Big Ten Championships bettered her previous record of 10:32.50 she set at the Stanford Invitational last month. Former Hawkeye Sarah Arens set the previous record of 10:34.50 in 2004.

Junior Renee White broke her own triple jump record twice this season. Her wind-aided 42-8 1/4 at the Big Ten Championships broke the mark of 42-4 she set last month at the Sun Angel Classic.

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.

HAWKEYES CROWN THREE CHAMPS AT BIG TEN OUTDOOR MEET — The Hawkeye women’s team crowned two individual champions, while the men’s team won one event at the 2008 Big Ten Outdoor Championships in Champaign, IL. The women’s team placed sixth with 73 points, while the men’s squad placed eighth with 68. Michigan won its first men’s title since 1983, and its 31st in school history, with 129 points. Penn State won its first women’s title since 2004, and its second in school history, with 151.

Hawkeye senior distance runners Meghan Armstrong and Diane Nukuri took home titles for the women, while junior high jumper Ryan Kelly won a conference title for the men.

Armstrong collected her second career Big Ten title when she won the last event of the first day – the 10,000 meters – in a facility record-setting 33:49.03. The Tualatin, OR, native won the conference indoor 3,000 meters in March, and is the sixth two-time conference champion in school history. She is also Iowa’s first Big Ten 10,000-meter champion since Jennifer Brower in 1992. Armstrong also placed third in the 5,000 meters (16:28.71).

Nukuri won her first conference track title in the 5,000 meters (16:24.21). She is only the third Hawkeye to win a Big Ten title in that event. Nan Doak (1982) and Tracy Dahl (1992) were Iowa’s other winners. Nukuri also placed third in the 10,000 meters (34:07.50).

The top four men’s high jump placewinners each cleared the winning and regional-qualifying height of 6-10 3/4, but Kelly recorded no misses at that height to win the conference title. He is Iowa’s fifth Big Ten outdoor high jump champion, and the first since Bill Hansen in 1976. Hawkeye senior Jeremy Petsche placed fourth in that event with a collegiate-best 6-10 3/4 to also qualify for the regional meet.

Seniors Tammilee Kerr, Kineke Alexander, Shane Maier and Jessica Schmidt, juniors A.J. Curtis, Renee White and Racheal Marchand, and sophomore Adam Hairston also gave strong performances at the three-day meet.

Kerr placed fourth in the hepathlon and javelin. Her heptathlon point total of 5,532 broke the school record of 5,417 she set earlier this season, and automatically qualified her for the NCAA Championships. She was in sixth place in the seven-event competition going into Saturday’s final three events. She won the javelin (161-8), placed second in the 800 meters (2:27.49) and fourth in the long jump with a collegiate-best 19-4 1/4 to finish fourth. Kerr then went on to place fourth in the javelin with a throw of 163-5, which improved her previous regional-qualifying and collegiate-best mark she threw during the heptathlon.

Schmidt placed fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a collegiate-best 10:27.18, which broke the school record of 10:34.50 set by Sarah Arens in 2004.

Maier placed second in the discus (174-7) and fifth in the shot put (59-4 1/4, while Curtis placed third in the shot put (59-8 1/4) and fifth in the discus (171-7). Hairston placed third in the 800 meters with a season-best 1:50.68, which was only .6 seconds off the winning time.

Marchand placed fourth in the 10,000 meters with a NCAA provisional qualifying and collegiate best 34:11.48, and fifth in the 5,000 meters (16:40.03). White (triple jump) and Alexander (400 meters) also posted fourth-place finishes. White’s wind-aided mark of 42-8 1/4 broke the school record of 42-4 she set earlier this season in that event.

Also scoring points for the Hawkeyes were senior Ryan Niver, junior Andy Napier and sophomores Jesse Luciano, Ray Varner and Caleigh Bacchus. Napier was runner-up in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, running a collegiate-best 8:58.21. He the fifth Hawkeye in men’s school history to break the nine-minute mark in that event. Luciano ran the 10,000 meters for the first time in his Hawkeye career, placing fourth with a team-leading 30:19.92. Niver placed seventh in the decathlon with 6,712 points. Bacchus placed sixth the high jump with a collegiate-best 5-7 1/4, while Varner placed eighth in the 400-meter hurdles (1:05.70).

The men’s 400-meter relay of seniors Max Milder, Aaron Reed and Lee Elbert and freshman Brandon McSkimming placed fourth with a season best 40.98. The men’s 1,600 meter relay of freshman Steven Willey and Chris Barton, and sophomores Zach Splan and Varner placed fifth (3:11.39). The women’s 1,600-meter relay of freshman Bethany Praska and Tiffany Hendricks, and seniors Monica Mims and Alexander placed sixth in 3:44.21, while the 400-meter relay of sophomore Rhonda-Kaye Trusty, White, Kerr and Hendricks placed eighth (47.29).

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.

NUKURI WINS RUDOLPH AWARD — Hawkeye senior distance runner Diane Nukuri has been awarded the 2008 Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award by the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A). The annual national award is intended to honor student-athletes who have overcome great personal, academic and/or emotional odds to achieve academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics.

Nukuri is a three-time all-American in track and cross country at Iowa. She is a two-time NCAA Midwest Region cross country champion and was one of four national finalists for the 2008 Honda Sports Award in women’s cross country. She holds all four cross country school records, as well as three outdoor school marks. The Hawkeye senior ran for her native Burundi in the 2000 Olympic Games, but has not been back since she was 16. Her father was killed during the Hutu-Tutsi conflict, leaving Nukuri’s mother to tend to the couple’s eight children. Nukuri left a war-torn Burundi to compete at the Francophone Games in Canada, after the Olympics, and persuaded an emigrant cousin to take her in. After enrolling in school and obtaining resident status in Toronto, Nukuri met Anderson who helped her enroll at Butler County Community College (KS). This was to boost her language skills and academic credentials. Nukuri excelled at Butler, winning nine NJCAA national and 11 regional titles and earning 17 all-America honors. She enrolled at the University of Iowa in the fall of 2006.

Wilma Rudolph was the first American female runner to win three gold medals during the Olympic games of 1960. She won the 100 and 200-meter dashes and anchored the 400-meter relay, earning the title of “World’s Fastest Woman”. Her performance was all the more remarkable in light of the fact she had double pneumonia and scarlet fever as a young child and could not walk without braces until age 11.

The N4A is a diverse, educational service and professional nonprofit organization with approximately 550+ members. N4A members are committed to enhancing the opportunities for academic, athletic and personal success for collegiate student-athletes.

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.

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.

NEXT COMPETITION — The Hawkeye track teams will send qualifying student-athletes to the 2008 NCAA Championships, June 11-14 in Des Moines, IA. All events will be held at Drake Stadium on Jim Duncan Track on the Drake University campus. For ticket information contact the Drake University Athletics Ticket Office at 515/271-3647 or www.godrakebulldogs.com.

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