May 29, 2008
- Big Ten Network: Hawkeye programming
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- Big Ten Network: Programming Schedule
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- Free NCAA Regional Web Stream
- NCAA Midwest Regional site
LINCOLN, Neb. — University of Iowa men’s track and field coach Larry Wieczorek knows anything is possible at a regional competition. UI women’s track and field coach Layne Anderson is optimistic on the eve of the two-day NCAA Midwest Regional that begins Friday, May 30, at Ed Weir Stadium on the University of Nebraska campus.
The Hawkeye women are sacrificing regional team points by leaving three distance runners — Meghan Armstrong, Racheal March and and Diane Nukuri — back in Iowa City to rest and prep for the national competition June 11-14 in Des Moines. All three reached regional-qualifying times in the 5,000-meter run and Armstrong also qualified in the 1,500.
“We’re sacrificing a little bit in team points and team production, but we’ll anticipate the points they’ll deliver at nationals to be worth their remaining at home,” Anderson said. “I’m optimistic. It’s very realistic for us to have four all-region performers and very realistic to have four women advance on.”
Competing for the UI women are Kineke Alexander in the 400 dash, Tammilee Kerr in the javelin, Jessica Schmidt in the 3,000 steeplechase and Renee White in the long jump and the triple jump. Alexander finished runner-up in the 400 at regionals as a freshman and won the event as a sophomore and junior. She is a six-time All-American and won the 2006 indoor 400 championship and was runner-up in the 2006 outdoor 400.
“Kineke continues to return to form and looks to advance on and extend her season by two weeks as she goes for another All-American honor,” Anderson said.
Like the three 10,000 runners, Kerr has already qualified for the national championship in the heptathlon. Anderson said that White has been `consistent’ all season and thinks she is poised for a break-out weekend. Schmidt is seeded 12th in the region in the steeplechase. The top five individuals at regionals advance to nationals.
“It will take a lifetime performance from Jessica, but based upon her racing and training, she looks ready for the challenge,” Anderson said.
The men’s team has a nice cross section of the team representation at regionals — high jumpers Ryan Kelly and Jeremy Petsche, throwers A.J. Curtis, John Hickey and Shane Maier and tracksters Ray Varner (400 hurdles) and Andy Napier (3,000 steeplechase).
Action begins at 1 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Last season the Hawkeyes finished eighth in the women’s regional with two champions and 34 ½ points. The UI men placed 16th with 19 points and two runner-up individuals. The Midwest Regional features 39 schools from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.
“I feel good about the seven athletes we have here,” Wieczorek said. “It’s exciting when you get out to a nice venue and see the other athletes.”
Wieczorek raved about the regional field in the high jump and said the “tallest order” to advance to nationals would be Kelly and Petsche. He also knows that his jumpers have made great strides of late.
“It’s just such a tough field, yet those guys are on a roll and had great Big Ten meets,” Wieczorek said. “Anything can happen and that’s the premise of the regional — you can punch your own ticket. For example, Ryan Kelly was not predicted to be Big Ten champion and here he is.”
Wieczorek said Napier is also in an underdog role, but that’s not a bad place to be, especially if you have Napier’s determination.
“He is a tough competitor and I think this meet is made for guys like him,” Wieczorek said.
The shot put trio of Curtis, Hickey and Maier are seeded fifth, second and sixth respectively. Hickey reached All-American status by placing seventh at the indoor national championships in March.
“All three throwers have a good shot to make it,” Wieczorek said.
Maier is also seeded eighth and Curtis 11th in the discus.
One of the hungriest performers on the team is Varner. A national qualifier in the 400 hurdles as a Action begins at 1 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Last season the Hawkeyes finished eighth in the women’s regional with two champions and 34 ½ points. The UI men placed 16th with 19 points and two runner-up individuals. The Midwest Regional features 39 schools from Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.freshman, Varner was leading the Big Ten finals in that event when he stumbled over the 10th and final hurdle, wiping out a potential gold-medal performance. Like most events, the Midwest Regional is stacked in the 400 hurdles.
“Ray has to be really ready,” Wieczorek said. “He has a real legitimate shot.”
Click HERE for the Big Ten Network home page.