Hawkeyes Set to Compete at Last Chance Qualifier

March 2, 2011

Three Iowa student-athletes will travel to South Bend, Ind., this weekend to compete at the last chance NCAA qualifier event held on the campus of Notre Dame. Hawkeye distance runners Jeff Thode, Lauren Hardesty and McKenzie Melander will all compete in the mile run.

Thode recently ran the fastest mile of his career at the Big Ten Championships last weekend. The sophomore crossed the finish line in 4:02.00, a new school record.

Melander posted a 4:42.54 career-best finish in the mile at the Iowa State Classic on Feb. 12. The junior’s time was just 3.64 seconds shy of the automatic qualifying mark of 4:38.90.

Hardesty, a senior from Valparaiso, Ind., heads to the event with a season best time of 4:42.56, set at the Big Ten Championships last weekend. Hardesty’s career best in the race is 4:41.97.

The women’s team is sending competitors for three events to the NCAA qualifier event in Ames, Iowa this weekend. Freshman Erin Jones, senior Bethany Praska and the 4×400 foursome, including freshman Ashley Liverpool, senior Tiffany Hendricks, junior Nicole Erickson and Praska.

Jones is set to the run the 200 meters at the event. The Highland Village, Texas native ran the race in 24.01 seconds at the Big Ten Championships, narrowly missing the 23.70 automatic qualifying cutoff.

Praska, a Longmont, Col. native, will run the 800. Praska set the school record in the race at 2:06.20 on the same track she ran Feb. 12. The NCAA qualifying time for the race is 2:06.00.

Iowa’s 4×400 team set the school record at the Big Ten Championships held at Purdue last weekend. The Hawkeyes worked together to post a second place time of 3:37.58.

The No. 23 men’s team is sending a slew of runners to the Iowa State last chance qualifier. Seniors Paul Chaney, Steven Willey, Zeke Sayon and Chris Barton, juniors D’Juan Richardson, Erik Sowinski and Patrick Richards, sophomores Justin Austin, Ethan Holmes and Jordan Mullen and freshmen Nate Prom and Tevin Mincy will all make individual bids for an NCAA berth. Richards, Austin, Sowinksi and Willey will also compete as a 1,600-meter relay team.

Austin, Sowinski and Troy Doris have already qualified for the for the NCAA Championships. The trio of Hawkeyes will compete in College Station, Texas, on the campus of Texas A&M March 11-12.

Austin is set to run the 200, a race he ran in a school record-setting time of 20.83 seconds at the Razorback Invitational. The Milwaukee, Wis. native, ran qualifying time in the event at the Big Ten Championships, posting a first place time of 21.23.

Doris reached 54-0 (16.46m) in the triple jump competition at the Razorback Invitational Jan. 29. A Bollingbrook, Ill. native, surpassed the automatic qualifying mark of 52-10 (16.10m).

Sowinski is set to run the 800 at the Championships. The junior from Waukesha, Wis., qualified for the event at the Huskie Invite Feb. 12, running a school record-setting time of 1:47.98.

The men’s track and field team broke into the national rankings after impressive performances at the ISU Classic and Huskie Invite. The Hawkeyes debuted on the national list at 14th two weeks ago. Iowa is currently ranked 23rd nationally and is one of six Big Ten teams on the list.

Indiana is the highest of the conference teams in the national spotlight at No. 4. Penn State (14), Wisconsin (16), Minnesota (19) and Ohio State (20) all appear in this week’s national rankings.

The Hawkeyes not competing in the NCAA Indoor Championships are preparing for the 2011 outdoor season. The first event of the season is scheduled for March 18-19 at the Shamrock Invitational.

The Hawkeyes have broken 15 school records, including five that have been broken twice or more this season. This season’s school record holders include:

Event Name Mark National/Big Ten
Weight Throw Kelsey Taylor 60-4 1/2 (18.40m)) -/10
60 meters Justin Austin 6.69 27/2
200 meters Justin Austin 20.83 7/1
60m Hurdles Jordan Mullen 7.75 10/2
Triple Jump Troy Doris 54′ (16.46) 4/1
600 meters Steven Willey 1:17.94 -/2
800 meters Bethany Praska 2:06.20 13/3
800 meters Erik Sowinski 1:47.98 9/3
3,000 meters Jeff Thode 8:00.38 37/7
Mile Jeff Thode 4:02.00 37/7
1,600-meter relay Ashley Liverpool 3:39.15 35/2
Nicole Erickson
Bethany Praska
Tiffany Hendricks