Iowa Opens By Winning 10 Events

Jan. 12, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Larry Wieczorek, one of the most optimistic track and field coaches on the planet, admitted to being a bit pessimistic before the University of Iowa opened the men’s indoor track and field season Jan. 8 against Illinois in Champaign.

“I thought they had us beat by the numbers and we had a few injuries and a few guys out,” Wieczorek said. “Then our kids really came through, winning seven of nine events on the track and three of six field events.”

In four events, the Hawkeyes placed first and second, en route to winning the dual, 83-74.

Wieczorek quickly points out that the Fighting Illini were not at full strength, competing without NCAA hurdle champion Andrew Riley, a four-time All-American who was still at home in Kingston, Jamaica. But Iowa was minus cross country All-American Jeff Thode, who is starting later because of a long competitive season in the fall; distance stars Mark Battista, Nick Holmes and James Paul, who are nursing injuries; and pole vaulters Kyle Reid and Jack Eckert. Reid strained a hamstring warming up before the meet and was held out of competition for precautionary reasons; Eckert, a true freshman, underwent season-ending surgery Jan. 7.

The Hawkeye men’s and women’s teams will be in action Saturday, Jan. 15, hosting the Iowa Open at the UI Recreation Building. Field events begin at 11 a.m.

“Given that both teams had people missing, I think it was pretty good competition given the fact we dominated some of those events against good people,” Wieczorek said. “It was a real positive day. Illinois is a good team, one of the most improved in the Big Ten. To go in there during the first meet of the season and do that well was really encouraging and positive.”

Winning for the Hawkeyes were Justin Austin (60-meter dash and 200 dash), Steven Willey (400), Chris Barton (600), Erik Sowinski (800), Jordan Mullen (60 hurdles), Jeffery Herron (long jump), Troy Doris (triple jump), Graham Valdes (high jump) and the 4×400 relay unit of Patrick Richards, Barton, Sowinski and Willey.

“The core guys that we expect to do well and have a history of doing well performed,” Wieczorek said. “Jordan Mullen won the hurdles in great fashion and then you go up and down the list. The guys that have been really looking good in practice, the guys that are proven veterans from last year and our two newcomers — Troy Doris and Justin Austin — they were the real deal and our veteran guys coming back did what we thought they were supposed to do. The core of our team had a really good meet.”

Mullen’s time of 7.91 in the 60 hurdles is second all-time in school history to former All-American Dion Trowers (7.87). Austin’s winning time in the 60 dash was 6.76, second in school history to only Kurt Felix, who ran 6.73. Austin is now tied for eighth all-time at Iowa with a time of 21.49 in the 200 meters. He won that event by 0.73 seconds at Illinois.

The Hawkeye men’s and women’s teams will be in action Saturday, Jan. 15, hosting the Iowa Open at the UI Recreation Building. Field events begin at 11 a.m.

“We will probably adjust our lineup a little bit and maybe not overdo it with some people,” Wieczorek said. “Most people will participate and then get ready to go to Minnesota (Gold Country Classic on Jan. 22) the next weekend and then we go to a meet in Arkansas (Razorback Invitational on Jan. 28-29), which will be a nationally powerful meet.”

Also encouraging is the fact that the Hawkeyes are structured toward a more successful outdoor season. They are blessed with talented performers in the javelin, 400 hurdles, discus, hammer throw and the 4×100 relay — all events that are contested only during the outdoor season.