Hawkeye Track & Field Performing Well

Feb. 18, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the Feb. 15 edition of the Official Sports Report (OSR) for the University of Iowa. OSR is a daily e-newsletter exclusively about the Iowa Hawkeyes. Click HERE to learn more.

AMES, Iowa — Individual lifetime bests and other impressive performances were the norm for the University of Iowa track and field teams Feb. 12-13 at the Iowa State Classic at the Lied Center.

For those who waited until the very end of the meet, Hawkeye sophomore Erik Sowinski gave them something to cheer about by winning the men’s seeded 800-meter run in 1 minute, 48.90 seconds. Following Sowinski were three unattached runners and then teammate Adam Hairston, who was clocked in 1:49.26. The efforts by both Sowinski and Hairston were provisional-qualifying times for the NCAA indoor national championships.

Two races later, Sowinski teamed with Steven Willey, Kevin Dibbern and Ray Varner to win the 4×400 relay in 3:09.83 — .09 seconds faster than runner-up Nebraska. Again, the Hawkeye foursome reached a provisional-qualifying mark.

If Sowinski earned the unofficial Hawkeye MVP badge for his weekend work, there were plenty of worthy honorable mentions. Two that come to mind — one each from the women’s and men’s teams — are junior Tiffany Hendricks and freshman Jeff Thode.

Hendricks bested 74 others in the non-seeded women’s 400 dash with an indoor personal-best time of 56.84.

“The race unfolded very well. Pack-wise it was pretty crunched. I was expecting more elbows, but I decided to lay off and stay behind the leaders. That was my strategy in the beginning.”
UI freshman miler
Jeff Thode

“It was a good feeling,” Hendricks said. “It was good to get that time. It’s a time I feel I should have been running already this season. It’s a little frustrating that I was in the seeded race and have somebody push me.”

The effort by Hendricks ranked 18th among the finishers in the seeded race later in the day. The overall winner was Devin Gosberry of Loyola in 54.17.

“I would like to get at least a 55 (during the indoor season) and in outdoor I’m shooting for the 54 area,” Hendricks said. “I just need to get stronger and keep training hard.”

Iowa’s 4×400 relay team placed fifth in 3:44.29. That concluded a busy two days for Hendricks, who also ran the open 200, where she finished 32nd in 25.41.

“I have to get used to it,” Hendricks said of her workload. “I know I’ll probably be doing multiple events at the Big Ten championships, too.”

The conference meets are Feb. 27-28 with the Hawkeye women at University Park, Pa., and the men at Minneapolis.

Coming up big for the Iowa men’s team Saturday was freshman Jeff Thode, who closed the final 800 meters in 2:01 to win his heat of the seeded mile run and place fourth overall with a time of 4:06.89.

“The race unfolded very well,” Thode said. “Pack-wise it was pretty crunched. I was expecting more elbows, but I decided to lay off and stay behind the leaders. That was my strategy in the beginning.”

Thode said he was “thrown off a little bit” when Saturday’s meet got ahead of schedule. Because of that, he didn’t stretch or warm up as well as he would have liked.

“I was a little sore up in my legs,” Thode said. “I was still happy with my time. Maybe I can drop another three or four seconds by next week’s meet.”

The Hawkeyes return home Friday, Feb. 19, to host the Iowa Invitational in the Recreation Building, beginning at 5 p.m. Thode expects to again be entered in the mile, but he doesn’t have any specific aspirations.

“I’m not going for a certain goal time,” Thode said. “However fast I can run, I’ll run.”

To watch a video interview of Hendricks and Thode, click HERE.