No Place Like Home for In-State Recruits

Jan. 23, 2016

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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. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.

By JORDAN BUCHER
hawkeyesports.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa — What do University of Iowa track and field greats Adam Hairston, Kevin Lewis, and Steven Willey have in common?

The trio is a small sample of former school-record holders recruited from the state of Iowa.

When it comes to adding a new crop of student-athletes to the program, University of Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody and his coaching staff are careful not to overlook the prospects in their own backyard.

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“It is important to recruit the best athletes in Iowa to keep them in state and do our best to make them Hawkeyes,” Woody said. “We have had a lot of success and a great track record if you look at the history of our program and what we have been able to do with the Iowa athletes. We have a great opportunity right here.”

Lewis was a 2015 national qualifier in the 5,000 meters. The Ottumwa, Iowa, native holds two school records in distance events. Willey, of Onawa, Iowa, was a 2010 Big Ten 400-meters champion and an All-American in the 1,600-meter relay, while Hairston (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) was an NCAA qualifier and former school-record holder in the 800 meters.

“They have proven that you can be an Iowa prep and come to the University of Iowa to become Big Ten champions and All-Americans,” Woody said. “I’m not sure if we have put that much of a priority on in-state recruiting in the past, but it has been a push over the last couple of years to go after those types of kids.”

The 2015-16 Iowa track and field roster has 36 former Iowa high school preps, including multi-state champions Will Teubel (Lisbon, Iowa) and Jalynn Roberts-Lewis (Des Moines, Iowa).

Roberts attended Illinois State for a season before returning to Iowa, while Teubel was undecided about his college future prior to a scholarship offer from the Hawkeyes.

“A lot of (recruiting in-state athletes) is making them know that you care about them and that you do want them,” Woody said. “Some of the athletes in state might think we are looking past them to get somebody from out of state, and that is not the case at all. We want to attract the best athletes regardless of where they are from.”

During his Iowa tenure, Woody has led the Hawkeyes to 14 Big Ten individual titles and 44 All-America honors. In 2015, Iowa qualified 28 individuals for the NCAA Championships, earned 11 All-America honors, and crowned four Big Ten champions.

“We are competing at the highest level of track and field,” Woody said. “We have the toughest and deepest conference in the country when it comes to this sport. Recruits have the opportunity to be in a new facility next year on a team that is going to compete for a Big Ten championship while establishing itself as one of top national programs.

“If that is what (future recruits) want to be a part of, then they do not have to look any further than their own backyard.”

All eyes on Iowa Division I track and field will be in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday when Iowa State hosts Iowa, Northern Iowa, and Drake at the Lied Recreation Center in the Big Four Duals. Events begin at 2 p.m. (CT).

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