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 DARREN MILLER
EUGENE, Ore. — Joey Woody knows that getting to the NCAA Track and Field Championships is tougher than ever in every event. But reaching Hayward Field isn’t an end-all for the Hawkeyes, the director of track and field at the University of Iowa said during Monday’s practice.
“We can’t just be happy about being here,” Woody said. “It’s about making finals, scoring points, and being able to compete on the final day. I’m excited about where we’re at, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
According to the total number of men’s and women’s entries qualified for Eugene from June 6-9, Iowa is at the top of the Big Ten Conference. The Hawkeyes are sending 16 events (second only to Minnesota’s 17) and Iowa is the only program in the conference to advance at least seven men’s events (nine) and seven women’s events (seven).
“It shows the hard work is paying off,” Woody said. “We’re excited to have a bigger group and it is also exciting to look at where we were a few years ago with only one or two athletes in a couple different events.”
The Hawkeyes are doing it with across-the-board proficiency. They qualified sprinters, jumpers, throwers, hurdlers, and relays.
“Having a big group in different event areas is indicative of the type of program we are,” Woody said.
The next step is finishing in the top 20 of the final national standings. Iowa tied for 17th in the men’s race a year ago with 15 points; the women tied for 48th with four points.
Of the four Hawkeye women in Eugene, three are in multiple events: senior Brittany Brown in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, senior Jahisha Thomas in the long and triple jumps, and sophomore Laulauga Tausaga in the discus and shot put. Junior Briana Guillory is seeded 12th in the 400 dash.
“There are a lot of opportunities; the key is to get through healthy and feeling good about your chances once you get to the final day,” Woody said. “A lot of these teams will be relying on the same people, just like we are. That group can be top 20.”
The Hawkeye men are led by junior Reno Tuufuli, who is seeded second in the discus (60.01 meters, 196-feet, 10 ¾-inches). Iowa’s 4×400 relay enters the NCAA Championships with the fourth-fastest qualifying time.
Turning paper points to actual points is vital.
“We have events that can score big points,” Woody said. “You never know what can happen once you get into the right race and the right environment.”
The men compete at the NCAA Championships on Wednesday and Friday; women go Thursday and Saturday.
“Getting here, you’re one of the top athletes in the country, now you have to go out and put your best self out there and have an opportunity to make that final,” Woody said.
A perfect example is Iowa sophomore Matt Manternach, who was 18th in the men’s 800 run at the Big Ten Championships (1:52), then two weeks later turned in the 10th-fastest qualifying time in the West Preliminary (1:48.63).
“This is his first opportunity to be here, but he is a competitor,” Woody said. “Once you get into this environment, it’s anybody’s opportunity to go out and win and compete to make finals.”
Big Ten Representation at the NCAA Championships
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