June 10, 2010
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Iowa City, IA – A rainy day two of the NCAA Championships in Eugene, OR is in the books and the Iowa men’s 1,600-meter relay team will advance to Saturday’s finals for a chance to contend for a national title.
The team, consisting of sophomores Patrick Richards, Erik Sowinski, and juniors Steven Willey and Chris Barton, qualified for Saturday’s finals after placing second in their heat and sixth overall at 3:06.48. They were one of six automatic qualifiers, having placed in the top two in their heat. Iowa will be one of eight teams competing Saturday, with the race set to start at 1:50 p.m. CT.
“It was very exciting for them to get an automatic spot,” said Men’s Head Coach Larry Wieczorek. “I think they became a crowd favorite, people were cheering for Iowa. We’re really excited about this opportunity. Hopefully the weather will cooperate then and they’ll have a chance to run the best time they have all season against the best competition they’ve seen all season.”
Iowa’s two competitors in the 1,500 meters, sophomore Betsy Flood and junior Lauren Hardesty, failed to earn their way into the top eight in Thursday’s preliminary race. Flood placed 15th overall, ninth in the first heat, at 4:19.75 while Hardesty came in at 20th overall, tenth in the second heat, crossing the line at 4:26.01. Flood led the team in the 1,500 meters this season, running a collegiate-best 4:17.75 at the Big Ten Championships, placing her just over three-tenths of a second behind Iowa’s record holder, Meghan Armstrong, in that event. Her mark ranks third in the Big Ten and 16th nationally. Hardesty was riding on the momentum of a strong NCAA West Regional performance, a collegiate-best 4:20.40 in the finals to move her to the NCAA Championships. This boosted her to fourth all-time at Iowa and seventh in the Big Ten.
“It was a breakout season for both of them,” said Women’s Head Coach Layne Anderson. “Just to be at the NCAA Championships is an outstanding accomplishment. Obviously we’d like to be running Saturday, but it was a great performance nonetheless. All in all, it was a great year for them both and a great year for the rest of the team. We’ll be looking to improve next year on a lot of the things we did this season and I see a lot of potential for bigger and better things from this team.”
Freshman Matt Byers battled through the rain during his javelin flight, but failed to make the cut, placing 21st overall with a mark of 202-8 (61.77m). Byers had a breakout freshman season, throwing a collegiate-best 232-2 (70.76m) in his second competition, a mark that has been firmly at the top of the Big Ten performance list since. This mark ranks second all-time at Iowa and 15th nationally. Byers was one of Iowa’s three Big Ten champions this season as well, and only the fourth individual to win a javelin title at Iowa.
“It was an off day for Matt,” said Wieczorek. “Talking with [Iowa Throws Coach] Scott Cappos, it seemed like technically, Matt wasn’t there today. He’s only a freshman though, so there’s plenty of time to work on his skills and improve on a tremendous start to his Iowa career.”
The Hawkeyes will be back in action on Saturday, as the men’s relay team as well as sophomore Ryan Lamparek in the shot put will be contending for a national title. Fans can follow the action at www.hawkeyesports.com under the “live results” link on the track and field schedule page.