Byers, Varner and Willey Nab First Team Honors

May 19, 2010

IOWA CITY, IA – The Big Ten Conference has announced that eight University of Iowa track and field athletes have earned all-conference honors. The Big Ten announced its all-conference teams and individual awards Wednesday.

Freshman Matt Byers (javelin), junior Steven Willey (400m) and senior Ray Varner (400m hurdles) have been tabbed first team all-conference performers. Each of the three award winners earned first-place finishes at last weekend’s Big Ten Championships.

Chris Barton (Jr.), Jeffery Herron (So.) Patrick Richards (So.), Zeke Sayon (Jr.) and Erik Sowinski (So.) earned second team all-league honors.

Varner and Lindsay Anderson were also honored as part of the Big Ten all-conference teams, earning Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. One member of each Big Ten team is recognized with the Sportsmanship Award at the conclusion of each season.

“I think the Big Ten is one of the premier conferences in the country, so to be recognized as an all-conference performer is really quite an honor,” said Head Men’s Track and Field Coach Larry Wieczorek. “These individuals led the charge to our fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships; and although we will miss Ray (Varner) next season, the others will return, so the future looks bright for Iowa track and field.”

Varner earned his first career Big Ten title by turning in a time of 50.61 in the 400-meter hurdles. A native of Wadsworth, IL, Varner’s season-best time of 50.24 ranks 10th nationally and seventh in the NCAA West Region.

Steven Willey was named Big Ten first team by the conference office Monday.

Following a sixth-place finish in the 400-meters at last season’s conference championships, Willey captured his first career Big Ten title by sprinting to a personal-best time of 46.12. That mark ranks fourth among Iowa’s all-time top 10 performers and ranks 12th in the NCAA West Region.

Byers’ toss of 220′-6″ (67.22m) earned him his first career Big Ten title, the fifth conference championship by a javelin thrower in program history. The Wichita, KS native ranks 13th in the NCAA West Region and second among Iowa’s all-time top 10 performers.

Sayon was honored for his second-place finish in the 200-meters (10.64) while Herron was awarded for his second-place finish in the long jump (24′-01.75″, 7.36m). Sayon ranks 47th and Herron ranks 24th in the NCAA West Region in their respective events.

Barton, Richards and Sowinski earned second-team honors for their roles in Iowa’s second-place finish in the 4×400-meter relay. Along with Willey, the quartet ranks ninth in the NCAA West Region.

The NCAA will announce the championship field Friday at 4 p.m. (CT). The top 48 individuals in each event from the west region will compete in the NCAA Regional in Austin, TX, May 28-29.