June 9, 2010
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Iowa City, IA – University of Iowa senior Ray Varner and junior Steven Willey were in action Wednesday for the first day of competition at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, OR. Both athletes’ individual seasons ended sooner than they would have liked, as they were eliminated from competition in Wednesday’s preliminaries.
Willey finished seventh in his heat and 15th overall in the 400-meter dash, clocking in at 46.51. Willey was one of Iowa’s three Big Ten Champions this season. His performance in last week’s NCAA West Regional was a collegiate-best (45.98), which leads the team and ranks fourth all-time at Iowa. This time also leads the Big Ten this season and ranks 25th nationally. Willy will compete in Thursday’s semifinals as a member of Iowa’s 1,600-meter relay team.
Varner, another of Iowa’s three Big Ten Champions, finished third in his heat and 13th overall in the 400-meter hurdles (51.04). Varner’s collegiate-best time in the 400-meter hurdles, set on April 8 this season at the Sun Angel Classic, has remained at the top of the Big Ten performance list since. Coming into this weekend, it also ranked tenth nationally. This puts Varner third all-time at Iowa in the 400-meter hurdles.
“These guys were one race away from the final eight, but it was not meant to be,” said Men’s Head Coach Larry Wieczorek. “It’s been a great season for both of them, though Willey’s season isn’t quite over yet, he’ll get a second chance tomorrow in the 4×4 so he has a little bit more to go. Varner’s collegiate career at Iowa is over and it has been a wonderful career. A three-time NCAA qualifier, we were hoping for a little bit more this time but still a great career nonetheless.”
Seven Hawkeyes are set to compete Thursday at the NCAA Championships. The men’s 1,600-meter relay, consisting of Willey, freshman Patrick Richards, sophomore Erik Sowinski, and junior Chris Barton will get a chance to move onto Saturday’s finals, as will sophomore Betsy Flood and Lauren Hardesty in the 1,500 meters. Iowa’s third Big Ten Champion, freshman Matt Byers, will compete in the javelin finals. A link to live results from Eugene, OR can be found on the Iowa track and field schedule page on www.hawkeyesports.com.