May 30, 2008
- Big Ten Network: Hawkeye programming
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- Big Ten Network: Programming Schedule
- Free NCAA Regional Web Stream
- NCAA Midwest Regional site
- NCAA Midwest Regional results
LINCOLN, Neb. — The University of Iowa flexed its muscle in the men’s shot put Friday at the Midwest Regional at Ed Weir Stadium and the Hawkeyes set the table for potential national qualification in the women’s 400-meter dash and the men’s 400 hurdles.
The biggest splash by the black and gold on Day One of the regional came as no surprise in the men’s shot put. Iowa had three throwers — John Hickey, A.J. Curtis and Shane Maier — all in the second flight of eight competitors. Hickey (61-feet-4 ¼) and Curtis (59-5 ½) advanced to nationals by placing second and third. Maier, who has overcome injuries this season, was seventh (56-11 ½).
“This feels really good,” Curtis said. “John and I made a pact that we were both going to make it to nationals and we came through. Shane did a great job, too. I couldn’t have come close to doing what he’s done this year with the injuries he has had. He’s such a great guy and a great competitor.”
Curtis took the lead in the competition on his third throw. The next competitor — Hickey — then snatched the lead away. Hickey led the competition until the second-to-last throw of the entire meet.
“John and I kind of fed off each other,” Curtis said. “I had a big throw and then he came back and threw a big one. It was a lot of fun.”
Hickey was quick to congratulate Nebraska’s Keith Lloyd (who threw 61-5) for claiming the individual regional championship. But a gold medal was not the primary objective for Hickey.
“That’s the most exciting part about throwing,” Hickey said. “It only takes one. It’s really the other people that get you to throw as far as you do. I have no excuses. I went for it on the last throw and it kind of slipped off of my neck. Congratulations to him. I’m just happy to be going to nationals. My plan was to throw to get into the top five, not to throw to win.”
UI assistant coach Scott Cappos was pleased to see three of his student-athletes finish in the top seven.
“We’ve been consistently one of the best programs in the country and that’s a great feeling,” Cappos said. “There were a lot of programs that noticed that there were three Hawkeyes in the finals. Both John and A.J. have come on and had a great finish to their season. They look forward to going to the NCAA’s and working on being in the finals and being All-Americans.”
“This feels really good. John and I made a pact that we were both going to make it to nationals and we came through. Shane did a great job, too. I couldn’t have come close to doing what he’s done this year with the injuries he has had. He’s such a great guy and a great competitor.”
UI shot putter A.J. Curtis
The UI men are tied for fourth in the team standings with 16 points. Ray Varner qualified eighth for Saturday’s final in the 400 hurdles with a time of 51.07. He was second in his heat race. The Hawkeyes also had two high jumpers compete today — Jeremy Petsche tied for 10th at 6-11 and Ryan Kelly was one of nine competitors to no-height at 6-9.
For Varner, a defending national qualifier in the 400 hurdles, the time was sweet redemption after streaking to a large lead in the Big Ten finals two weeks ago before falling over the final barrier. And even though his seed time is eighth, he has bigger aspirations for the final.
“I was trying to stay smooth and safe and get to the finals,” Varner said. “This was a confidence boost for me. Coach (Joey) Woody told me that I can run with these guys and that I belong here. Tomorrow I’m going to think to myself that I do belong here and I’m going to go for it.”
The Iowa women are 18th in the team standings, earning a surprise point from Renee White in the long jump. White, better known for her triple-jumping prowess, dominated the first flight and was still the meet leader after the second flight. Her best jump of the day was a personal best 20-3 ¾.
“I didn’t come out here expecting to be in the finals of the long jump,” White said. “I listened to my coach and put everything else behind me. Today is the only day that matters and I did my best, so I can live with that.”
White said her confidence is now “way high” for the triple jump which begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“Renee had a really good performance again,” UI assistant coach Victor Houston said. “She just jumped in a really tough league. She jumped well on the day she’s supposed to jump well and I’m very proud of her.”
Kineke Alexander looked like…well, Kineke Alexander, in the 400-meter heat race. The Midwest Regional boasts a marquee field in the 400 and Alexander more than held her own. She bolted to the front of the pack and closed strong to finish in 52.95 seconds, the second-fastest qualifying time.
“My aim was to go out there and see how I felt and I felt good,” Alexander said. “I felt really good after the 200, so I finished strong. My aim in the finals is to finish in the top three.”
Click HERE for the Big Ten Network home page.