Making its Presence Known

April 26, 2010

Drake Relays Photo Gallery (Saturday, April 24) | Video interview with Coach Wieczorek

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s track and field team left the 101st Drake Relays without a championship flag, but the Hawkeyes also left quite an impression on the track and field community.

UI senior Dan Rolling opened the relays with a school-record 6,957 points and an eighth-place finish in the men’s decathlon. Two days and at least that many rain showers later, the Hawkeye 4×400-meter relay team of Patrick Richards, Chris Barton, Erik Sowinski and Steven Willey finished runner-up to Baylor in 3-minutes, 05.73-seconds — the fifth-fastest time in school history and the fastest since 1996.

“Sometimes outstanding performances are a contagious thing,” UI head men’s coach Larry Wieczorek said. “You see your teammate doing well and that makes you want to do well.”

The Hawkeyes also turned heads in the 3,000-meter steeplechase where Mark Battista finished seventh in 9:04.60 with the ninth-fastest effort in UI history.

Dan Rolling got us off to a good start; Mark Battista hitting an all-time top 10 performance at Iowa — those are the things that set the tone for the weekend,” Wieczorek said. “Of course we finished off in grand style with the 4×4.”

Hawkeye Ray Varner was second in the 400 hurdles (50.85), just 0.62-seconds behind Lee Moore of Mississippi. Varner and Moore were the only two of 23 runners to break 51 seconds.

“They did save the best for last and that was our best time over the last several years. To get second here after the rain delay was a terrific performance.”

UI head men’s coach
Larry Wieczorek

Iowa was the defending champion in the 4×100 relay and the foursome of D’Juan Richardson, Zeke Sayon, Stephen Bee and Richards turned in the fifth-fastest qualifying time in 41.01.

The UI 1,600 sprint medley relay of Richardson, Richards, Willey and Sowinski was runner-up to Eastern Illinois in 3:17.74; the distance medley relay of Nick Young, Barton, Nick Kuczwara and Jesse Luciano was fourth in 9:42.97. Three Hawkeye high-jumpers were among the top 17 in the meet.

“We didn’t win an event, but we really had a presence,” Wieczorek said. “We had seconds, thirds, fourths and we’re not really satisfied with that. We were hoping to win some events and we feel like we’re on the verge of winning rather than getting seconds and thirds.”

Iowa remains a force in the throwing events: Ryan Lamparek was third in the shot put (57-2 ¾) and sixth in the discus (168-feet). Freshman Matt Byers was third in the javelin (205-8). Matt Banse was 11th in the shot put (53-3 ½) and 14th in the hammer (189-9).

The Hawkeyes were eighth in the 4×1,600 relay with James Paul, Chase Kadlec, Thode and Luciano running 17:01.46. Nick Holmes placed seventh in the 5,000 run (14:33.73).

With two events remaining Saturday — the University Division 4×400 relays for both women and men — the meet was suspended for more than 30 minutes because of heavy rain and lightning. When action resumed, the Drake public address announcer reminded those in attendance that the 2010 Drake Relays saved the best events for last. That could also be said for the Hawkeyes, who turned in the fastest qualifying time in that event at 3:08.97. Iowa trimmed more than three seconds off that preliminary clocking in the finals.

“They did save the best for last and that was our best time over the last several years,” Wieczorek said. “To get second here after the rain delay was a terrific performance.”

The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, May 1, with the Musco Twilight XI meet, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track.