By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Joey Woody observed something that stuck with him shortly after taking over as director of track and field at the University of Iowa.
He was watching the women perform at the NCAA Championships and noticed that a majority of points were being scored by multi-event performers.
“The pentathletes and those in the heptathlon outdoor were coming back and making finals in the long jump and scoring points,” Woody said. “They were making finals in the hurdles and scoring points, some of them were making finals in the high jump and scoring points.
“When you see an athlete of that caliber at the national championships, I determined at that point we have to develop our multi-event program, particularly on the women’s side, because those end up being some of your most important athletes.”
Enter Hawkeye junior Jenny Kimbro. The native of Catlin, Illinois, can run, jump, throw, and hurdle, the latter being her specialty event.
After the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 22-23 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the conference coaches voted on most valuable performers. Ohio State senior Sade Olatoye scored 20 points and was named Field Athlete of the Championships; Wisconsin junior Alicia Monson scored 20 points and was named Track Athlete of the Championships.
The female performer who scored the most points over two days was Kimbro with 20.5. She placed second in the pentathlon (eight points), won the 60-meter hurdles (10 points), and ran the lead leg of the winning 4×400-meter relay (2.5 points).
“I wanted to help the team as much as possible because I knew we had a good shot of ending up on top,” Kimbro said. “My main goal was to try to get us as close to the team title as we could.”
The Hawkeyes finished in third place with 80 points, three points out of second.
“Having someone like Jenny who can contribute in other areas plus be a Big Ten champion in the hurdles says a lot about her as an athlete and as a person,” Woody said. “On the women’s side, it’s even more critical to get athletes like Jenny that are multi-event type athletes.”
It was a busy championships for Kimbro, who competed in eight events. On the first day of competition, she was runner-up to senior teammate Tria Simmons in the five-event pentathlon, scoring 4,030 points in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, and 800 meters. In between, Kimbro ran the fastest qualifying time in the 60-meter hurdles (8.31).
She won two events on the final day of competition. Kimbro reset her facility record in the 60-meter hurdles by winning the finals in 8.29 seconds. She teamed with Simmons, sophomore Aly Weum, and senior Briana Guillory to win the 4×400 relay in 3:37.58. Kimbro led off with a 56.4 split.
“(Associate head) coach (Clive) Roberts told us going into the 4×4 that a lot of people had done multiple events and a lot of people were tired,” Kimbro said. “It was going to come down to putting everything out there. We knew if we got (the baton) to (anchor leg) Bri close, she would bring it home for us and she obviously did.”
Kimbro felt a little sore after the Big Ten Championships, but after a rest day and a shake-out day, she was back on the track training for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 8-9 in Birmingham, Alabama. She will join Simmons in the pentathlon competition that begins March 8 at 12:15 p.m. (CT).