No Trophy, Just Bragging Rights

Jan. 17, 2014

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 — Throw the trophies away and leave the series points at home; this one is simply about state pride.

Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake will run, jump and throw for state bragging rights when the Hawkeyes host the inaugural Big 4 Duals on Saturday at the UI Recreation Building.

“Typically we’ve opened the season with more of a low key meet, but this year we’re starting with all Division I teams and in-state schools,” said UI director of track and field Larry Wieczorek. “It adds emphasis, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. It will certainly bring a heightened level of competition to the start of our season.”

Saturday is the first 2014 calendar event for the four schools. Northern Iowa and Iowa State shared a track in December at the Holiday Preview in Ames, but they did not go head-to-head. Saturday each team will be scored against the other. It’s a first for the state institutions, but it won’t be the last. The Big 4 Duals will rotate host schools every year and become an annual event.

“I’m happy we get to host the first meet,” said Wieczorek. “All the coaches at the various schools are excited to make it an annual event we can use to promote track and field within the great state of Iowa.”

Wieczorek credits Iowa State director of track and field Martin Smith for supporting the event. The Cyclones traditionally host a meet to open the season.

“Martin Smith was willing to let that one go and that gave us the opportunity to do something different,” said Wieczorek. “Once the weekend opened up everybody jumped right on board. The coaches are excited about what it does for their team, but they also know what it does for the sport within the state of Iowa. It enhances the visibility of the sport.”

The meet also offers a chance to capture a mythical state title. The Hawkeyes have 44 Iowa natives on their roster. Collectively, the schools have 153 student-athletes from the state of Iowa.

“It should be fun,” said Iowa sophomore Kaitlyn Nelson, who won a state title for West Des Moines Valley in 2012. “I know some athletes that I ran against in high school on other teams, and it’s going to be nice to see where they’re at right now and compete with them at this level.”

Senior Ethan Holmes won a pair of state titles for Clinton High School, but the most recent was in 2009, which “sometimes it seems like a long time ago and other times seems like just yesterday.”

“Mostly what I’m thinking about this weekend,” said Holmes, “is going out and getting one of the top two spots and making sure we let everyone know that this is a Hawkeye state. That’s the most important thing for me this weekend… making sure I’m competing to the best of my ability to help the team.”

That sentiment is share throughout the lineup. Tevin-Cee Mincy was a three-time state runner-up his senior year at Southeast Polk, but this weekend he’s looking for first place finishes for one and all.

“I’m trying to win the 60,” said Mincy. “That’s my only responsibility this weekend. That and cheer on my teammates. We’re trying to show the whole state that this is a Hawkeye state as we compete against the biggest schools in Iowa. Our ultimate goal is to win, and also show the Big Ten what Iowa’s trying to do this year.”

Field events start at 12 p.m. (CT), while running events begin at 1:15 p.m. Admission is free, and Big 4 Duals t-shirts will be distributed to the first 200 fans in attendance.