By JACK ROSSI
IOWA CITY, Iowa — With only a few days left until the track and field season officially begins, the University of Iowa track and field team hosted its first ever media day Wednesday inside the UI Recreation building where optimism is hardly on short supply
“I believe we can finish top three at the Big Ten Championships,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “We’re set up even better at the national level to be able to get in the top 10 with both the men and women. We’ve got a comprehensive track and field team. We have jumpers, throwers, sprinters, hurdlers and distance runners that can all compete at the national level.”
“I’m more excited that I ever have been,” 2017 All-American Brittany Brown said. “I redshirted my junior year and to think, it’s my last four or five months here. I’ve learned a lot about myself in this sport. I want the team to win and I want everybody to win collectively.”
In addition to Brown, the Hawkeyes return six other indoor All-Americans in 2018 including Big Ten long jump runner-up O’Shea Wilson, who has his eyes on a Big Ten team title.
“I want to win a Big Ten championship,” Wilson said. “I’ve been here five years and we haven’t done that yet. This year we have a team that can put it together and win it all.”
But one of the biggest turnovers from a year ago is the introduction of new throwing coach Eric Werskey. Seymour, Indiana, native Werskey comes from California State University Northridge, where he helped coach two Big West conference champions and two other top-five finishers in his two seasons.
“I’ve seen a lot of progress with coach Werskey and am looking forward to a good season,” All-American sophomore Laulauga Tausaga said. “We went from a two-day weight room program to working out every day .I’ve seen a lot of improvements from that. I feel a lot stronger and am able to throw what I want to.”
While the throwers adjust to a new coach, the distance squad is in year two with coach Randy Hasenbank.
“Everybody has adapted really well and we know what to expect and what is expected of us every day,” senior Madison Waymire said. “Indoor and outdoor I want to put some points on the board for the team at Big Tens and making it to the first round regionals would be a great ending.”
Iowa City native Tia Saunders enters her sophomore season with similar goals for the women’s middle distance runners.
“I am in much better shape and am very familiar with the (indoor) track,” she said. “A big thing for our group this year is putting points on the board at Big Tens and maybe even qualifying for regionals and nationals.”
The Hawkeyes host their first of three straight home meets in January with the Hawkeye Invitational on Saturday. The meet begins at 10 a.m. (CT) with the long jump. Live results and a live stream are available on hawkeyesports.com.