Hawkeyes Ready to Kick Off 2009-10

Sept. 1, 2009

For women’s Head Coach Layne Anderson, this season is all about adding depth and filling the gaps for an already established foundation of talent. The sum of that talent should add up to a formidable team that Anderson would like to see become a fixture near the top of the Big Ten standings.

The women’s track and field team will have nearly 30 newcomers, many of which will be expected to contribute immediately. Anderson is looking for this recruiting class to fill in the gaps for events the Hawkeyes could not compete in last season.

“Last season, Renee White would be our only long and triple jumper, Mandy Chandler would be our only thrower, we wouldn’t have any javelin throwers or pole vaulters. We suffered because of our lack of depth in many areas. We basically forfeited certain events and potential points because we didn’t have anybody there. This season, I think we’ll be able to compete in a lot more events, which will give us more opportunities.”

The program will lose a seasoned veteran in Renee White, who had a stellar 2009 season to close her career at Iowa. White was the 2009 outdoor Big Ten Champion in the triple jump, setting a school and conference meet record on her last attempt (hitting 43-10 ¾). In her career at Iowa, White was a two-time Big Ten Champion in the triple jump and holds the school indoor and outdoor triple jump records. Other loses include thrower Mandy Chandler, and distance runners Racheal Marchand, Krista Anderson and Rachel Hawks.

Senior Adam Hairston

Despite these losses, returning student-athletes are looking to build on numerous successes from last season. The women’s program is coming off a season where they qualified six student athletes for the NCAA Championships, with sophomore Betsy Flood and junior Karessa Farley automatically qualifying in the 1,500 meters (4th, 4:25.98) and 100-meter hurdles (3rd, 13.34), respectively. 2009 was a breakout season for other younger athletes as well. Sophomore McKenzie Melander, along with Flood, were a one-two punch in the distance events, finishing neck-and-neck for many of the top spots. Melander was a formidable foe, ending the season with a seventh place finish in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Midwest Regional, earning all-region honors. Junior Hannah Roeder was consistently strong in the 3,000 meter steeplechase during the 2009 outdoor season, earning points at the Big Ten Championships with a time of 10:35.26 that ranks third all-time at Iowa. In the 2009 indoor season, junior Bethany Praska secured three spots in the Iowa record books, ranking third in the 600 meters (1:31.33), fourth in the 600 yards (1:23.12), and 10th in the 400 meters (56.42). Anderson is pleased with this solid group of returners and will look to them to set a good example for the newcomers. Despite numerous individual successes, the team scores did not meet expectations, with the team finishing 21st at the NCAA Midwest Regional, and 10th in the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championships.

“Overall, I think we’re moving towards being a more complete team,” Anderson said. “We’re going to be an improved team and we will be more competitive in the Big Ten. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it will be a lot of fun as well.”

Men’s head coach Larry Wieczorek is looking for the momentum of a very positive 2009 finish to carry over into this season.

“I think last season’s NCAA Regional meet should be a sign of things to come. Everyone that weekend, had personal bests and there were some school records set. The thing that stands out about that meet is how many underclassmen stepped up that weekend. Having those solid athletes returning this year is very exciting.”

Among those returners will be senior Adam Hairston, whose mark of 1:48.53 in the 800 meters at the NCAA Championship prelims ranks third all-time at Iowa. Arguably more memorable though was Hairston’s emotional diving finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional that brought him to that point. Senior Ray Varner’s regional performance in the 400-meter hurdles (6th, 51.21) ranks fifth all-time at Iowa, and earned him all-region honors and an at-large big to the NCAA Championships. He eventually advanced to the NCAA semi-finals. Senior Paul Chaney, Jr., ran team-leading season best performances in the 100 (3rd, 10.59) and 200-meter dash (4th, 21.17) at Regionals. It capped a stellar season for the two-sport athlete. Chaney also anchored the 400-meter relay team that finished fifth (40.33) at the NCAA Midwest Regional.

So indeed, if Regionals does encapsulate what this season has in store, Wieczorek has reason to be optimistic.

Sophomore Betsy Flood

The bevy of returning talent should compensate for the loss of some key athletes, including throwers A.J. Curtis, John Hickey and Mark Schaapveld, distance runners Eric MacTaggart and Andy Napier, and high jumper Ryan Kelly, who was a 2008 Big Ten Champion.

As a team the men finished ninth at the indoor Big Ten Championships, and saw Hickey become an all-American. In the outdoor season, they improved their Big Ten finish to seventh as seven athletes earned all-region honors. Last year’s consolidation of the men and women’s track and field programs was praised by both Anderson and Wieczorek.

“I feel we can give a lot more individualized attention to the athletes,” says Wieczorek. “We can cater more efficiently to everyone’s specialties and the athletes get the benefits of all the coach’s advice and experience.”

“It’s a definite benefit to the team and program as a whole,” says Anderson. “To have the assistance of all of the coaches makes our job easier and gives the athletes advantages they might not have in separate programs. We can focus our attention and provide very specific coaching.”

Anderson is in his seventh year as the head coach of the women’s cross country team and his second as head coach of the women’s track and field team. Wieczorek is in his 23rd season as the head coach of the men’s cross country team, and his 14th as the head coach of the track team. Anderson and Wieczorek are joined by Assistant Coaches Scott Cappos (throws, 14th year), Joey Woody (men’s short sprints/short hurdles/relays, women’s long sprints/hurdles, 4th year), Clive Roberts (women’s short sprints/hurdles/relays, horizontal jumps, 2nd year), and Christi Smith (multi-events, vertical jumps, 2nd year).

Senior Ray Varner

The 2009 Iowa cross country schedule will start at home with with the Hawkeye Invitational on Sept. 4. Events are to be held at the Ashton Cross Country Course. The men’s track team will open the indoor season Jan. 9 at Illinois, while both teams will host the Iowa Open Jan. 16 at the University of Iowa Recreation Building. The Hawkeyes will celebrate the reopening of Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track at the 11th annual Musco Twilight meet May 1.

Senior Rhonda Kaye-Trusty will return after leading the women’s team in both the 100 (11.85) and 200 meters (23.83), finishing fourth at the Big Ten Championships in both events. Freshman Raven Moore is a four-time state champion from Athens, GA, earning two titles in each the 100 and 200-meters during high school and will be one of the new faces to help out Anderson’s sprinting squad. Junior Karessa Farley returns as the team’s premiere 60 and 100-meter hurdler, after leading the team in both events last season. Farley earned all-American status in the 60-meter hurdles, the first in athlete Iowa women’s history to do so in that event. Her season-best time of 8.21 is a school record. Her best time in the 100-meter hurdles of 13.34 ranks second all-time at Iowa and earned her all-region honors and an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. For the longer sprint events, juniors Tiffany Hendricks and Bethany Praska will return after leading the team in the 400 meters during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Hendricks and Praska will also contribute in the longer relays, while Farley and Trusty will be in the mix for shorter relays.

The men’s team will retain a very deep and talented squad from last year, headed by senior Paul Chaney, Jr. Chaney led the team in the 100 and 200-meter dash with a season-best 100-meter dash time (10.46) that ranks 10th in school history. The young, but experienced, talent behind Chaney includes juniors Zeke Sayon and Stephen Bee, and sophomores D’Juan Richardson and Patrick Richards. In the longer sprints, look for versatile runners such as Richards and junior Steven Willey to improve upon their 2009 success in the 400 meters. The entire regional qualifying 400-meter relay team of Richardson, Sayon, Chaney and Bee return. Their season-best time of 39.94 at the NCAA Regional prelims ranks third all-time at Iowa. The entire provisional and regional qualifying 1,600-meter relay team returns as well, with Willey, Richards, junior Chris Barton and senior Ray Varner. Their indoor season-best 3:09.62 ranks 10th all-time at Iowa.

Varner is set to be Iowa’s premiere 400-meter hurdler after a dominant season in that event. Along with Varner, Richardson and junior Connor Elmitt will round out a talented squad of hurdlers. All three scored points for Iowa in the Big Ten Championships in the 400-meter hurdles. Richardson also has some experience in the 60 and 110-meter hurdles.

Sophomore McKenzie Melander

Middle Distance
Like many areas of the women’s track team, the core of the middle distance runners will be young. The proven duo of Flood and Melander will be the mix, as well as junior Lauren Hardesty and sophomore Brittany Dlhy. Hardesty led the team in the 800 meters during the indoor season (2:12.39), while Dlhy was in the 800 meters for both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

The men’s middle distance squad will be centered around senior Adam Hairston, who is a consistent 800-meter competitor in what Wieczorek calls one of the toughest events in the Big Ten. Alongside Hairston will be sophomore Erik Sowinski, who is coming off an excellent freshman campaign. In the indoor season, Sowinski led the team in the 600 meters (1:18.05), setting the school record in that event. Sowinski’s season-best 800 meter time of 1:51.39 ranks fifth all-time at Iowa.

The core of a very talented distance group from last year will return with even more weapons available this season. Flood and Melander look to carry the momentum from last season into this one. There’s a solid group of runners to back them up. Roeder will look to build upon the success she found in the 2009 season with the 3,000 meter steeplechase, eventually making it to the NCAA Regional. Junior Amanda Hardesty scored points for Iowa with an eighth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships in the 3,000 meters (9:50.76) with a time that ranks tenth all-time at Iowa. A trio of newcomers, Sarah Boyd, Megan Lessard, and Megan Ranegar should add more talent to the group.

The men’s distance squad lost two valued members in Eric MacTaggart and Andy Napier, but the group of underclassmen have established themselves as formidable replacements. Senior Jesse Luciano led the team in the mile (4:07.29) and the 5,000 meters (14:20.99) during the indoor season and the two times rank sixth and seventh all-time at Iowa. Sophomore Chase Kadlec ran a collegiate best 4:09.47 Mile at the Big Ten Championships, and led the team in the 1,500 meters (3:51.01). He also placed sixth in the men’s 1,500 meters (3:53.31) at the USATF Outdoor Junior National Championships. A pair of inexperienced newcomers – redshirt freshman Nick Holmes and freshman Jeff Thode – were highly touted recruits out of Illinois and bring a lot of potential and expectations.

Senior Jesse Luciano

Throws / Jumps / Multi-Events
The bulk of the women’s field events will include newcomers. One veteran in this group is senior high jumper Caleigh Bacchus, who is looking to bounce back from a 2009 season in which she was hampered by injuries. Freshman Megan Glisar is the only student-athlete in Iowa high school track and field history to win four high jump titles at the state meet. Freshman Emily Moore is a 15-time state champion out of Gillette, WY, winning four titles in the long jump, 100 and 200 meters, and three titles in the triple jump. Three new throwers are looking to provide an impact as well. Freshman Ashlyn Gulvas is a two-time state champion from Michigan in the discus and shot put and she was named all-state and all-conference four times. Sophomore Tiffany Medenwalt set the school record at South Alabama University in the weight throw and hammer throw. Freshman Rachel Curry won the 3A Iowa state meet in the discus and placed second in the shot put her senior year.

The men’s throwers were hit hard by graduation. The loss of Curtis, Hickey and Schaapveld will be felt, but the program proves it’s depth with many talented returners. Sophomore Matt Banse led the team in the hammer throw with a regional qualifying mark of 187-7 that ranks seventh in school history. He also led the team in the weight throw during the indoor season. Sophomore Nick Brayton led the team in the discus, qualifying for the NCAA Regional with a season-best 180-11 that ranks sixth in school history. They will be joined by sophomore Ryan Lamparek, who’s collegiate-best marks in the indoor shot put (56-8 ¾) and discus (177-3) rank 10th all-time at Iowa.

In addition to the throwers, the men return talent in other field events. Senior javelin thrower Zachary Schimp is coming off his first competitive season after redshirting his first year as a transfer student. Schimp broke out early in the outdoor season, throwing a 206-3 that ranks third all-time at Iowa. Junior Josh Bean holds two spots in the Iowa record books for the triple jump, ranking fourth indoors (48-10) and seventh outdoors (48-9 ½). Combined event participants Dan Rolling and Frank Prill return for their senior seasons to help Iowa in the heptathlon and decathlon events. Rolling’s collegiate-best heptathlon from last season (4,909) ranks second all-time at Iowa, and his collegiate-best decathlon (6,811) ranks third. Alongside Rolling in the record books is Prill, whose collegiate-best heptathlon (4,902) ranks third all-time at Iowa and his collegiate-best decathlon (6,429) ranks sixth.

Senior Hannah Roeder

Cross Country
The women’s cross country team hopes to continue the success it’s experienced under Anderson, having made three consecutive trips to the NCAA Championships. The biggest loss to the team would be perennial all-star Racheal Marchand. A team that was youthful last year is now a little more experienced, and there are a few newcomers that should hasten improvement.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to rely on one workhorse to earn all our points, like Marchand and Diane Nukuri or others in the past,” Anderson said. “There’s no one, at this point, that stands out as that type of runner. That isn’t to say that person doesn’t exist. I think a lot of people on our team have all-Big Ten potential, but I don’t think there will be that constant front-runner.”

Not having a clearly dominant runner might sound like a bad thing, but this plays into the strategy that Anderson has for the team. The Hawkeyes will be emphasizing a pack-running mentality that should translate to better team scoring.

“In the past, there would sometimes be a two-minute gap between our first and fifth runners, and I don’t think there should be that kind of discrepancy. If we can run as a tighter group that should help push everyone to run harder.”

Anderson’s squad will have a strong group of returning athletes that includes Flood, Melander, Roeder, and sophomores Brooke Eilers and Lindsay Anderson. Some newcomers could provide an immediate impact, notably Boyd, Lessard, and Ranegar.

For Wieczorek, he is looking forward to bouncing back from a season he believes his team underachieved.

“Our cross country team has qualified for NCAA’s four times in the past seven seasons, with the last time being in 2006. I think making it back would be a challenging, but realistic goal for the season.”

Senior Paul Chaney, Jr.

Although the cross country squad loses long-time stars Eric MacTaggart and Andy Napier, there is a very strong group of returnees and newcomers. After last year’s trip to the NCAA’s, senior Jesse Luciano will look to continue his success. Seniors Brendan Camplin and Tommy Tate, juniors Sam Bailin and Mark Battista, and sophomore Chase Kadlec are also expected to contribute. Last year’s highly-touted recruit, redshirt freshman, Nick Holmes is ready to go. Holmes started off his 2008 debut season with a bang, finishing first in the season’s opening meet, but was hampered by injuries for the rest of the season and redshirted the 2009 track season. Joining him this season will be another prized recruit out of Illinois, freshman Jeff Thode, a 2008 cross country state champion.

“I think it’s all starting to come together,” Wieczorek says of his cross country team. “We have a great mix of experience and raw talent. We’re putting the pieces together to be the NCAA team that we want to be.”