By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — As a graduate assistant track and field coach, Randy Hasenbank watched a fierce competitor named Joey Woody run for a rival Missouri Valley Conference school.
Years later he gave an up-and-coming University of Iowa alumnus named Jason Wakenight his first coaching job at Loyola University Chicago.
All three are reunited in Iowa City after Hasenbank was named interim associate head cross country/assistant track and field coach at the UI on Aug. 5. Woody is director of track and field and Wakenight is assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for the Hawkeyes.
“The No. 1 (goal) is to support coach Woody and his goals for the program and build a competitive cross country program,” Hasenbank said. “That will be an ongoing process and you have to be a fierce recruiter because it’s non-stop. If you recruit well, you will have good talent to put out there and coach them up.”
Hasenbank is a native of St. George, Kansas. He attended Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kansas, for two years before enrolling at Wichita State University.
Hasenbank returned to Cloud County to begin his coaching career in 1990. Since then he has served as graduate assistant at Wichita State, a physical education and health teacher and coach at Andover (Kansas) High School, distance coach at Wichita State, assistant coach at Alabama, and head coach at Loyola.
At all of his previous stops, Hasenbank held the Big Ten Conference in high regard.
“Being a Big Ten school and a large Midwestern university is very attractive,” he said. “This is one of the best conferences in the country when you talk about cross country exclusively. Supporting and assisting Joey, putting it all together and being strong in cross country and being ready to perform and show that during the track and field season is the goal.
“Iowa is a great school that will attract a lot of talent; it is a great institution academically with a lot to offer. There are a lot of attractive things when it comes to recruiting and getting young people to take a look and get them on board.”
Hasenbank is already familiar with much of his primary recruiting turf. He focused heavily on the upper Midwest when he coached at Loyola, focusing on the states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
“The No. 1 (goal) is to support coach Woody and his goals for the program and build a competitive cross country program. That will be an ongoing process and you have to be a fierce recruiter because it’s non-stop. If you recruit well, you will have good talent to put out there and coach them up.” — Randy Hasenbank, UI distance coach
“Chicagoland is a great place for us to recruit at the University of Iowa,” Hasenbank said. “The University of Iowa has made a good living on those Chicagoland kids. It’s a place we will go a lot.”
In terms of setting goals, Hasenbank wants to field a quality program in fall with many of those contributors adding distance points for the Hawkeyes on the track in spring.
“Positioning ourselves to be competitive in cross country year-in and year-out and contributing to the track and field program,” Hasenbank said.
At Wichita State, Hasenbank inherited a women’s cross country team that finished last in the MVC. Four seasons later in 2005, the Shockers won the first of six consecutive league championships and Hasenbank was named MVC Coach of the Year.
Iowa hosts the Hawkeye Invitational on Sept. 2 beginning at 6 p.m. The Ashton Cross Country course will also host an NCAA Regional on Nov. 11.