March 6, 2010
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Iowa City, IA — The University of Iowa track teams made the most out of their last NCAA qualifying opportunity of the indoor season at this weekend’s NCAA Qualifier Meet in Ames, IA. Iowa has two new record holders, with freshman Jeff Thode in the mile (1st, 4:03.07) and junior Steven Willey in the 400 meters (2nd, 46.75). Both marks meet the provisional qualifying mark for the NCAA Championships. Both records have stood for over 25 years, with the previous 400-meter record being set in 1984 by Terrence Duckett and the mile mark set in 1981 by Ed DeLashmutt.
Despite ending the meet with a disappointing finish in the men’s 1,600 (8th, 3:15.17) after a botched baton exchange, Men’s Head Coach Larry Wieczorek felt the rest of the meet well made up for it.
“The 4×4 relay was a heartbreaker, but with Willey and Thode both breaking longtime school records and hitting provisional qualifying marks, it was an outstanding day. Adding [junior] Nick [Kuczwara] to the provisional qualifiers list in the 800-meters (4th, 1:49.59) was great. Our sprinters ran well too, hitting personal bests. All in all, I thought it was a strong performance.”
Junior Bethany Praska earned a collegiate-best in the 800-meters, earning a provisional qualifying bid with her fifth-place finish of 2:08.54. This finish puts Praska at third all-time at Iowa in the 800 meters.
Saturday’s action brings Iowa’s total NCAA qualifiers to fourteen individuals in nine events.
“Obviously the highlight of the meet for us was Praska hitting the provisional mark in the 800 meters,” said Women’s Head Coach Layne Anderson. “It was a great race for her. I’m exciting for her and a lot of people on our team in the upcoming outdoor season. I thought it was a good solid meet, and I’m looking forward to this next weekend and what our outdoor season will have in store.”
Sophomore D’Juan Richardson was Iowa’s top finisher in the men’s 60-meter dash, placing fifth with a collegiate-best 6.80 that puts him third all-time at Iowa in the men’s 60-meter dash. Junior Zeke Sayon raised his all-time placement, finishing right behind Richardson in sixth at 6.82, which moves him to sixth in the Iowa record books. Iowa’s formidable trio of middle distance runners earned three of the top five spots in the men’s 800 meters. Sophomore Erik Sowinski finished second at 1:48.99, followed by Kuczwara and senior Adam Hairston (5th, 1:49.73). Kuczwara’s finish is a collegiate-best and good enough to earn the Elmhurst, IL native a provisional qualifying bid to the NCAA championships, where he will join Sowinski and Hariston. Junior Karessa Farley clocked a season-best 8.32 in the 60-meter hurdles finals to finish second. Junior Amanda Hardesty also earned a win in the women’s mile (4:50.09).
Iowa’s fourteen provisional qualifiers will head to Fayetteville, AK on Friday, Mar. 12 for the 2010 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Day one events are set to start at 10:00 a.m. CST and Saturday’s events are set to start at 11:00 a.m.