Eight Hawkeyes Head To NCAAs

June 6, 2008

THIS WEEK — The University of Iowa men and women’s track teams will send eight 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. Events start at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 10:45 a.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday.

CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) will be airing live television coverage Friday from 7-10 p.m. (CST). CBS will also broadcast live coverage of Saturday’s final day of competition from 3-5 p.m. (CST).

NCAA POST-SEASON QUALIFIERS — Eight Hawkeyes have qualified for the NCAA Championships. Seniors Diane Nukuri and Meghan Armstrong automatically qualified in the 10,000 meters, while junior Racheal Marchand provisionally qualified in that event. Senior Tammilee Kerr also automatically qualified in the heptathlon. Senior Kineke Alexander (400 meters), Kerr (javelin) and juniors Renee White (triple jump), A.J. Curtis (shot put, discus) and John Hickey (shot put) each qualified based on their places or performances at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Lincoln, NE. Kerr and Curtis are Iowa’s only two-event qualifiers. Their event, qualifying marks and where they rank in the nation are listed below.

Name – Event – Mark – NCAA Ranking
Kineke Alexander – 400 Meters – 52.54 – 10th
Meghan Armstrong – 10,000 Meters – 33:28.00 – 6th
A.J. Curtis – Discus – 177-2 – (54.00 m) – 23rd
A.J. Curtis – Shot Put – 59-8 1/4 (18.19 m) – 23rd
John Hickey – Shot Put – 61-9 1/2 (18.83 m) – 14th
Tammilee Kerr – Javelin – 163-5 (49.81 m) – 21st
Tammilee Kerr – Heptathlon – 5,532 points – 16th
Racheal Marchand – 10,000 Meters – 34:11.98 – 18th
Diane Nukuri – 10,000 Meters – 33:17.01 – 2nd
Renee White – Triple Jump – 43-10 (13.36 m) – 18th

IOWA IN NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY — The Iowa men’s track team has crowned 13 NCAA champions and 84 all-Americans. Its highest finish at the NCAA outdoor meet was a tie for seventh in 1967. The women’s team has crowned four NCAA champions and 55 all-Americans, and its highest finish at the NCAA outdoor meet was 10th in 1992.

COMPETITORS ATTEMPT TO JOIN HAWKEYE ELITE — The eight student-athletes competing at the NCAA Outdoor Championships will attempt to make their mark in the Iowa records book this week.

Senior Kineke Alexander will try for her second NCAA 400-meter title and her eighth all-America honor in that event. Alexander won the 400 meters at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships. She holds the school record for most career all-America honors with seven. A five-time Big Ten champion, Alexander earned all of her all-America honors in the 400 meters. Iowa has crowned four NCAA champions in school history, with Nan Doak winning the 10,000 meters in 1985, Tracy Dahl winning the 5,000 meters in 1992 and 1993, and Alexander winning the 400 meters in 2006.

Senior distance runners Meghan Armstrong and Diane Nukuri will also look to add to their honors when they run the 10,000 meters. Armstrong is a two-time all-American in the indoor mile (2006, 2007), while Nukuri snagged her first all-America honor last season in the 10,000 meters. Armstrong is one of Iowa’s four two-time all-Americans. Nukuri’s time of 33:17.01 set the Iowa school record and ranks third in the nation, while Armstrong’s time of 33:28.00 ranks seventh.

Of the men’s qualifiers, junior John Hickey is the only returning all-American. He earned the honor by placing seventh in the shot put at the 2008 indoor meet.

2007 NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS REVIEW — Iowa crowned four all-Americans at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, CA, and the women’s team placed 39th with seven points. Seniors Adam Hamilton and Peaches Roach, and juniors Kineke Alexander and Diane Nukuri earned all-America honors for the Hawkeyes. Iowa sent 11 competitors to the national meet.

Hamilton was the first to earn the honor, placing ninth in the hammer with a mark of 211-7. The top eight placewinners and the top eight American finishers in each event are named all-Americans. He is the ninth two-time all-American in school history and Iowa’s third hammer all-American.

Roach became a four-time all-American in the high jump by placing seventh with a leap of 5-10 3/4. She is the only Hawkeye in school history to earn multiple all-America honors in a field event.

Alexander picked up her sixth all-America honor in Sacramento, CA. The Glenside, St. Vincent and The Grenadines native, placed seventh in the women’s 400 meters with a time of 52.13. By earning her sixth award, Alexander tied Iowa’s school record for most all-America honors earned in a career. Former Hawkeye distance runner Nan Doak also earned six all-America honors from 1982-85. Alexander is the only Hawkeye in school history to earn all six of her honors in the same event.

Nukuri placed seventh in the 10,000 meters with a collegiate-best time of 33:30.29. She became Iowa’s fifth all-American in the 10,000 meters, but is the first to earn the honor in that event since Jennifer Brower in 1992. She is also the first Hawkeye distance all-American since Tina Stec in the 3,000 meters in 1994. Nukuri earned all-America honors for the Hawkeyes at the 2006 NCAA Cross Country Championships and was a 17-time National Junior College all-American at Butler Community College from 2004-06.

2008 NCAA REGIONAL REVIEW — Hawkeye senior Kineke Alexander and juniors A.J. Curtis and John Hickey used their top-five individual finishes at the NCAA Midwest Regional in Lincoln, NE, to earn automatic bids to the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Eight Hawkeyes also earned all-region honors by placing in the top eight in their events.

The Hawkeye men posted their highest finish in the six-year history of the regional meet, placing 12th with 25 points. Their previous best team finish was 15th in 2004. The Iowa women’s team placed 18th with 12 points.

Alexander placed second in the 400 meters with a season-best 52.24, Hickey placed second in the shot put (61-4 1/4) and Curtis placed third in both the discus (176-8) and shot put (59-5 1/2).

Six of Iowa’s other regional competitors placed in the top 12 in their events to earn a spot in the at-large pool. Junior Renee White led the group with her record-breaking triple jump performance. White broke her own school record by over a foot, recording a 43-10 on her first jump of the competition to place sixth. White had an outstanding meet, placing eighth in the long jump (20-3 3/4) and jumping over 20 feet in that event for the first time in her career. Junior Andy Napier ran a collegiate best 8:57.54 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase for seventh place, and sophomore Ray Varner placed eighth in the 400-meter hurdles with a season-best 51.07. Senior Tammilee Kerr placed 10th in the javelin (155-8), senior Jeremy Petsche placed 10th in the high jump with a collegiate-best 6-11 and senior Shane Maier placed seventh in the shot put (56-11 1/2) and 11th in the discus (164-2).

HAWKEYES BREAK RECORDS — The Hawkeye women’s team has broken six 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. 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 heptathlon mark at the Big Ten Championships. Her two-day point total of 5,532, which automatically 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 three times this season. Her jump of 43-10 at the NCAA Midwest Regional, broke the previous bests of 42-8 1/4 at the Big Ten Championships and 42-4 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.

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.

HAWKEYES EARN ACADEMIC ALL-BIG TEN HONORS — Twenty Hawkeye track student-athletes were recently named to the 2008 spring academic all-Big Ten list. The men’s team crowned 13 honorees, which was a school record, while seven women’s team members earned the honor. To be eligible for an academic all-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a career grade point average of 3.0 or better. Following is a list of Iowa’s honorees and their majors:

Men’s Track (13) – Brendan Camplin(Biomedical Engineering), A.J. Curtis (Math/Secondary Education), Cannon Dolan (Marketing/Finance), Lee Elbert (Communication Studies), Jesse Luciano (Pre-Business), Mark Mankivsky (Management Information Systems), Eric MacTaggart (Music/Secondary Education), Andy Napier (History/Secondary Education), Ryan Niver (Health & Sport Studies), Jay Renaud (History/Secondary Education), Mark Schaapveld (Management), Brice Wilson (Mechanical Engineering) and Bobby Windauer (Art/Health & Sport Studies)

Women’s Track (7) – Krista Anderson (Elementary Education), Meghan Armstrong (Integrative Physiology), Jolly Burke (Psychology/Sociology), Katie Ellis (English/Cinema), Molly Esche (Communication Studies), Rachel Hawks (Biomedical Engineering) and Rhonda-Kaye Trusty (Biology).

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 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.

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.

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.

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