Feb. 25, 2011
Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Friday, Aug. 13, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2010-11 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Before Troy Doris could begin his assault on the University of Iowa triple jump record, he needed to put more student into student-athlete.
Doris was a terrific and highly-recruited field performer from Bolingbrook, Ill., but a few academic deficiencies forced him into two years at the College of DuPage (Ill.). While there he was a two-time junior college national champion in the triple jump. Even after he obtained an associate of arts degree, Doris needed to complete a summer full of courses to become a Hawkeye.
“I wasn’t too focused on school and I felt that track would carry me through and that wasn’t the case at all,” Doris admits. “As I started getting older, I learned that I needed to start focusing and I needed to start studying. Last summer was the hardest I’ve ever worked in school trying to get to Iowa. I had to work, work, work to pass those classes and get here.”
Because the requirements for entrance to the UI were not available in junior college, Doris completed three summer courses at Chicago State University before he could head to Iowa City.
“He shored up his academics,” UI head men’s track and field coach Larry Wieczorek says. “He recognized that he had missed an opportunity. He let himself down, maybe let his family down and he didn’t want that to happen again. He grew up, matured and got disciplined. He worked his tail off to get to Iowa.”
Doris, a junior academically and athletically, is majoring in political science with a minor in sociology. Wieczorek glows when revealing that Doris’s grade-point average during his first semester at the UI was above 3.2.
“That is fantastic. He’s quite a guy,” Wieczorek says.
With his academic workload under control, Doris began taking aim on the Hawkeye indoor record in the triple jump of 52-1 ¼ set by Paul Jones in 1990. On Jan. 29, 2011 — in his third meet at Iowa and the second time he entered the triple jump — Doris leaped 54-feet (16.46 meters) to win the Razorback Invitational and automatically qualify for the NCAA indoor national championships March 11-12 in College Station, Texas.
“I’m taking it one step at a time,” Doris says. “My next goal is to win Big Tens and after that, just progress on to nationals and then re-gather what I need to do. I can’t look too far ahead.”
The men’s indoor conference championships are Feb. 26-27 in Champaign, Ill. Doris is the top seed in the Big Ten: Mike Hartfield of Ohio State has jumped 51-10 and Hanif Johnson of Penn State has gone 51-5 ½.
“It’s still anybody’s game,” Doris says. “You have to keep striving for more.”
Trials and finals in the triple jump at the Big Ten Conference Championships begin at noon on Sunday, Feb. 27.
There are many reasons Doris gravitated toward the UI, one being a unique bond with assistant coach Clive Roberts. Both Doris and Roberts trace their lineage to the South American country Guyana.
“I felt we made a strong connection from the beginning,” Doris says. “I had a lot of trust in what he was saying and he knew what he was talking about. I got that vibe that he was a real good coach. Iowa has great facilities and a good location, too, but that’s not as important as the relationship with the coach.”
“A lot of credit goes to coach Clive Roberts,” Wieczorek says. “He re-identified Troy in community college and stuck with him even though there were quite a few hurdles to getting into a four-year school. Coach Roberts has been doing a terrific job in terms of coaching him now.”
The Iowa men’s team is ranked No. 15 by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches of America. In the Big Ten, that trails only Indiana (third) and Penn State (10th). Being on a nationally ranked team makes for competitive practices every day in the University of Iowa Recreation Building.
“You don’t have room to slip or you’ll get called out if somebody sees you’re not performing well,” Doris said. “I like it because people notice it and you get motivated to try harder next time.”
Hawkeye coaches aren’t the only ones paying attention to what’s going on within the program. Doris is amazed at the support he and the rest of the team have received around campus.
“It surprises me to have people talk to me about track,” he says. “People come up to me and ask how the track team is doing. It’s surprising and humbling at the same time — I knew Iowa was a huge football school, but having people talk to you about track is different.”
Doris experimented with other sports like baseball and basketball, but they went to the back burner once he started with track and field in seventh grade. A year later, Doris says the sport became his “bread and butter.” As a freshman at Bolingbrook High School, Doris was introduced to the triple jump and followed the lead of older brother, Ryan, who competed in the long and triple jumps at Southern Illinois.
“He’s a national-level triple-jumper,” Wieczorek said. “If he performs at his best I’ve got to think he has a good shot of being a Big Ten champion. You have to do it on that day of course, so nothing’s guaranteed.”
The 54-foot mark by Doris is fourth-best in the nation behind Will Claye of Florida (55-10 ¼), Christian Taylor of Florida (55-0 ¼) and Tarik Batchelor of Arkansas (54-2 ½).
Because of his improved sprint speed, Doris has ventured from the runway to the starting blocks. He owns the second-fastest 60-meter time on the team (6.83), behind only school-record holder Justin Austin, who ran 6.71.
“I knew I was kind of fast, but I never wanted to put in into sprinting,” says Doris, who is a contender for the sprint relays during the outdoor season. “That speed has pushed me to do more events and I’m fine and comfortable with doing that.”
Doris’s jumping ability and sprinting aren’t the qualities that stick out to Wieczorek.
“Character quotient in people is important and I would rate him pretty high in character quotient,” Wieczorek says. “We see a real quality person.”