Outdoor Season Begins in the Bayou

March 31, 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 — The University of Iowa track and field team travels to SEC country this weekend to compete at the LSU Invitational in Baton Rouge, La. The event will be the first of the outdoor season for the Hawkeye men, who are fresh off an eighth place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Saturday’s competition will be held at Bernie Moore Stadium on the campus of Louisiana State University.

What:2 Watch:4

1,600-Meter Relay (Men)
The last time Patrick Richards, Chris Barton, Erik Sowinski and Steven Willey traded batons on a 400-meter track, they were racing to All-America honors at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The quartet owns the No. 5 spot on Iowa’s top performers list (3:05.61), but a win over LSU’s top-ranked relay team could top the 16-year old school record (Morris, Davis, Page, Rozell, 1995, 3:03.11).

1,600-Meter Relay (Women)
Tiffany Hendricks, Rhonda Kaye Trusty, Nicole Erickson and Bethany Praska climbed to the No. 6 spot on Iowa’s all-time top performers list a year ago (3:39.88). Trusty is lost to graduation, and freshman Erin Jones is primed to make her debut this weekend. Jones led the team in both the 60 and 200 meters during the indoor season, etching her name among the school’s all-time top performers along the way.

Javelin (Men)
First team all-Big Ten performer Matt Byers returns following an impressive freshman campaign in 2010. Byers captured a Big Ten title and qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. In his first collegiate javelin toss, he jumped to No. 2 on the school’s all-time top performers list (232-2). Only two-time All-American and 2003 Midwest Regional Champion Bill Neumann (244-8) has recorded a better mark.

400 Meters (Women)
Freshman Ashley Liverpool will make her outdoor debut in the open 400 meters following an impressive indoor season. Liverpool earned all-Big Ten honors with a second place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Her time of 54.09 led the team and ranks fourth on Iowa’s all-time top performers list.

400 Meters (Men)
Three-time All-American and defending Big Ten champion Steve Willey is set to make his season debut in the 400 meters. Willey raced to a Big Ten title in 2010 and later advanced to the NCAA Championship semifinals with a personal-best time of 45.78 at the NCAA prelims. His career best ranks fourth on Iowa’s all-time performers list.

400-Meter Hurdles (Women)
Senior Tiffany Hendricks will make her season debut in the 400-meter hurdles. The senior from Burlington, Iowa, led the team in the event last season, clocking a 1:01.36, the ninth-best performance in school history.

110-Meter High Hurdles (Men)
Second team All-American and all-Big Ten performer Jordan Mullen returns to the outdoor track following an injury plagued season in 2010. Mullen returned during the indoor track season and set the 60-meter hurdle school record. He now has his sights set on climbing the outdoor 110-meter high hurdles list, where he currently ranks fifth (14.06).

800 Meters (Men)
One of Iowa’s strongest events, the 800 meter lineup features two of the program’s top 10 outdoor performers — Erik Sowinski (3rd) and Adam Hairston (6th). The duo rank 1-2 on the all-time 800 meter indoor list and will race outside together for the first time since 2009, when Hairston earned all-Big Ten honors and Sowinski was an NCAA qualifier. Hairston redshirted in 2010. This weekend will mark his first outdoor appearance since the 2009 NCAA Championships.

400-Meter Relay (Men)
New faces, old faces and familiar faces decorate the 4×1 relay team. Senior Zeke Sayon is the lone returner from last season’s squad, but he’s joined by 2009 team MVP Paul Chaney, Jr. Chaney, Jr., anchored the 400-meter relay team to a Drake Relays title in 2009 before missing the 2010 campaign with an injury. Sayon and Chaney, Jr., will trade batons with newcomers Tevin Mincy and Justin Austin. Mincy raced to the No. 7 spot on Iowa’s all-time top performers list in the 60 meters during the indoor season and Austin set school records in both the 60 and 200 meters during the indoor season.