Hawkeyes Send Relays To Finals

April 29, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa – The University of Iowa track and field teams concluded the second day of competition at the Drake Relays with runners advancing to Saturday’s finals and a top-five finisher in Matt Byers.

The first Hawkeye to finish the 2011 Drake Relays was sophomore, Byers. The Wichita, Kan. native competed in an event loaded with good competition, featuring five of the nation’s top-six javelin throwers were present at the event. Byers hit 223-5 (68.10m) with his final throw of the day.

The women’s 4×400 team placed first in the preliminary heat it raced in. The Hawkeyes will enter tomorrow’s finals heat as the fourth best time. Senior Bethany Praska paced the team through the first leg, running a 53.5 second 400 meters before handing off to classmate, Tiffany Hendricks. Hendricks clocked a 54.5 split and freshman Ashley Liverpool recorded a 54-flat third leg. Junior Nicole Erickson anchored the relay, crossing the finish line at 3:37.83.

“We will do a lot better in the final with someone pushing us and running right there with us,” said Hendricks. “One of my favorite parts of running at Drake is the amount of support we get out there. It’s great.”

Iowa’s men’s 1,600 meter-relay team finished runner-up in the preliminary heat with a time of 3:09.00 The Hawkeyes will enter the final race as the fifth-seeded team. Senior Steven Willey got out of the blocks, sprinting around the track in 46.6 seconds before handing off to D’Juan Richardson. Freshman Ethan Holmes carried the stick through the third leg closing in on the leading Georgia. Senior Chris Barton was slowed at the handoff by a lingering Georgia runner in his lane, then battled the wind down the final hundred, but finished strong to secure Iowa’s place in the final.

“D’Juan ran well,” Holmes said of his teammate. “He brought the baton all the way through the finish line. We had a good handoff, but that wind on the home stretch was rough. When the wind is in your face when you’ve ran almost the full 400 isn’t really the ideal thing, but we got out and competed well.”

Sophomore Jordan Mullen and Holmes punched their tickets to the Drake Relays 110-meter high hurdles finals with their performances in the preliminary races. Holmes ran in the first heat, clearing the final hurdle and racing to the line to post a time of 14.18. Mullen won the third heat of prelims with a time of 14.02. Mullen’s time is the second fastest heading into tomorrow’s final race, while Holmes’ time is fourth best.

The Hawkeye men ran the final race of the night for the university division in the 4×800 meter relay. Senior Adam Hairston started on the gun for Iowa and got out to the front of the pack. Hairston held a steady lead before handing off to freshman Nathan Prom for the second leg. Amidst the handoffs, Prom stayed in the front of the pack and passed the baton off to All-American Jeff Thode for the third half-mile. All-American Erik Sowinski anchored the relay, running hard to close in on Minnesota’s lead, but ran out of track, finishing runner-up with a time of 7:23.77.

“It’s always exciting to come to the Drake Relays,” Hairston said. “With everyone cheering for you, it’s like a home town crowd. There are a lot of guys in the field so my goal was just to get out front and get out of the clutter behind me and run hard.”

Junior Jeffrey Herron leapt a season best of 24-0 ¾ (7.33m) in the long jump pit. The Richmond, Texas native placed 11th overall.

The women’s distance medley team ran a top-ten all-time race to take seventh in the event. Freshman Lena Placzek ran the first leg of the race and juniors Kelsey Mims and Jackie Laesch took the baton for the middle legs. Senior Amanda Hardesty ran the final laps, clocking an 11:43.65 for the team.

“It was another solid day at the Drake Relays for the Hawkeyes,” Head Coach Layne Anderson said. “We had a number of highlights and several near misses to close out day two. Tomorrow we shall look to close out the 2011 Drake Relays with some outstanding performances.”

Iowa will be back in action Saturday morning, starting with the women’s hammer throw at 9 a.m.