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 JACK ROSSI
DES MOINES, Iowa — It was Sommer time Saturday on the Jim Duncan Track at the 109th Drake Relays.
In her first Drake Relays, University of Iowa senior Sommer Sharpe flashed a championship effort in the 400-meter hurdles, closing with a surge over the final hurdle.
How can it be that a college senior is a newbie at America’s Athletic Classic? Sharpe competed her first three years at George Mason University in Virginia where she was dominant in the 400-meter hurdles. Sharpe won the 2017 Atlantic 10 Championship and was an NCAA qualifier in 2015 and 2017.
But Sharpe wanted more in her final season and sent a note to Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody about her desire to become a Hawkeye.
“I received an email and then I received more information on (Sharpe) and why she wanted to leave her school,” Woody said. “She had one year of eligibility remaining and it was a bit of a leap of faith from me and her as well. She bought into our program right away.”
Sharpe’s reason for spending her last season of eligibility in Iowa City was simple.
“Coach Woody,” Sharpe said. “The greatest coach ever and a 400-meter hurdle Drake Relays champion himself.”
“We have proven that we have a long history of success in both hurdle events and she trusted that,” Woody said.
Sharpe has already ascended Iowa’s all-time list in the 400-meter hurdles and sits No. 5 in program history with a time of 59.20.
She heard all about the Drake Relays when she came to Iowa, but was amazed when she found herself on top of the podium after Saturday’s 400 hurdle race with a white Drake Relays Champion flag in hand.
“I have never been to the Drake Relays, so it was awesome to run here and it was good to get a white flag,” Sharpe said. “I have heard a lot about it, but to actually be here is crazy.”
Sharpe’s 59.73-second effort was the only one in the 27-women field less than 60 seconds; she won Iowa’s second Drake Relays title in the 400-meter hurdles, joining Wynsome Cole.
“It was awesome,” Sharpe said. “The race went well. The first half of the race was close to perfect. We still have a lot of technical things to work on in the second half of the race and it wasn’t the time I wanted to run, but I am happy with the result.”
It seemed a matter of time before one of Woody’s hurdlers won a Drake Relays title and Sharpe will now be able to taunt her coach that she has a flag of her own. But the postseason is just beginning. If she wants to keep up with Woody, she will need an NCAA Championship, too.
“My goal since I transferred to Iowa was to go to the NCAA Championships,” Sharpe said. “I already booked my ticket for regionals and after that, I will cross my fingers that I will go to Eugene (Oregon, site of the NCAA Championship final round).”
Sharpe and the Hawkeyes continue the season at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships in Bloomington, Indiana, on May 11-13.