By JACK ROSSI
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.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Two competitions into the outdoor season and the University of Iowa track and field team has hit its groove heading into April.
The Hawkeyes set two more school records over the weekend at the Florida Relays, bringing their records total to 15 for 2017. Iowa is seeing underclassmen step up and impress.
During the women’s discus throw on March 31, freshman Laulauga Tausaga set the first school record of the weekend. Tausaga recorded a mark of 56.10m (184 feet, 1 inch) to shatter the previous record of 55.19m (181 feet, 1 inch) set in 2013 by Majesty Tutson.
“Throwing coach (Andrew) Dubs said that she was OK in practice, but then put that throw out there,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “She threw it and it caught the wind and kept going. It was exciting to see her set the school record in her second outdoor meet of her collegiate career.”
Tausaga, along with freshman Erika Hammond, was part of last year’s recruiting class that was tabbed to reload the women’s throwing program following the departure of Dakotah Goodell.
The second school record was set during the final day of the relays in the men’s 4×200 meter relay. The quartet of junior O’Shea Wilson, senior Brendan Thompson, freshman Collin Hofacker, and senior Jared Ganschow set the record with a time of 1:23.02.
The 4×200 meter race isn’t the most common relay, but the time caught the coaches by surprise.
“We weren’t expecting to run a school record, but we felt good about our team and they ran well,” Woody said.
Hofacker has been quietly putting together an impressive freshman year. He was on Iowa’s 4×400 meter relay during the indoor season that reset the school record two times and set personal bests in the 200 meters (21.57), 400 meters (46.70) along with competing in the 4×200 and 4×400 in Florida.
“He set a PR in the 200 meters and 400 meters and then ran in the school record 4×200 and then ended with the 4×400 meters where they ran one of the top three best times all-time, so it was an impressive weekend for him,” Woody said.
Hofacker redshirted last season. He was originally going to compete in the multi-events before Woody determined Hofacker’s place was in his event groups.
“He trained as a multi-event athlete until about February last year and then we decided to scrap it and start training in the 400 meters,” Woody said. “That is when he joined my event group and really started to take off. It’s funny how those things work out.”
The freshman from Freedom, Wisconsin, was a state champion in the 200 meters and 400 meters in high school and now ranks 19th in the NCAA in the 400 meters along with being one of three freshmen ranked in the top 20 in the event.
Iowa competes in the Jim Click Shootout next weekend. The meet runs April 6-8 in Tucson, Arizona.