By DARREN MILLER
DES MOINES, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s track and field team is treating the remainder of the season like a four-course meal.
Drake Relays is soup. The Big Ten Conference will be an appetizer. Then Joey Woody, University of Iowa director of track and field, wants the NCAA West Preliminary and NCAA Championships become an entrée and dessert.
“This is great,” Woody said after the Hawkeye women won their first-ever Hy-Vee Cup at the Drake Relays on April 27 by scoring 26 points in the 4×800-meter, distance medley, sprint medley, 4×100, and 4×400 relays. “At the end of the day we want get used to winning and like I told them, this is a little taste of what we want in two weeks.”
“In two weeks” refers to the Big Ten Championships that Iowa will host from May 10-12 at Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track in Iowa City, Iowa.
Eighteen women’s teams scored points in Hy-Vee Cup events from April 25-27 at the Drake Relays, with the Hawkeyes totaling six more than Illinois and Oklahoma State. Only three teams — Iowa, Illinois, and Purdue — scored in three of the relays. The Hawkeyes won the sprint medley and were runner-up in the 4×800 and 4×400.
“We didn’t have a lot of champions, but we had a lot of runners-up and we had a lot of high-place finishes which is what it takes to win a championship when it comes to the conference meet and when we get ready for the national meet,” Woody said.
Eleven different Hawkeyes competed on the three Hy-Vee Cup-scoring relays. Iowa’s 4×800 (that ran a school-record 8:31.84) was made up of freshman Grace McCabe, junior Taylor Arco, junior Tia Saunders, and junior Mallory King. The sprint medley (3:54.18) consisted of sophomore Antonise Christian, junior Talia Buss, senior Briana Guillory, and Arco. Members of the 4×400 (3:47.93) were junior Jenny Kimbro, sophomore Aly Weum, sophomore Addie Swanson, and freshman Payton Wensel.
“We had a lot of athletes that contributed and that’s the big thing, our depth is better than it has ever been,” Woody said. “When somebody was down, we were able to put somebody else in, like when we put Addie Swanson on the 4×4. We always have somebody who is ready to pick up the slack after maybe things didn’t go the way they wanted in another event. That is what I was most excited about, seeing people step up.”
The Iowa men won the Hy-Vee Cup in 2017 and 2018 and finished runner-up to Iowa State this season by six points, 29-23. It is the first victory for Iowa’s women, who unseated defending champion Purdue.
The Hy-Vee Cup events are a small example of successes from the Hawkeye women at Drake. Junior Laulauga Tausaga won the discus (187-feet, 5-inches), was second in the shot put (53-8 ¼), and eighth in the hammer throw (186-9). Kimbro was runner-up in the 400 hurdles (58.43) and the 100 hurdles (13.34), sophomore Konstadina Spanoudakis was third in the discus (168-10), Saunders was fifth in the 800 (2:13.19), junior Kelli DeGeorge was fifth in the high jump (5-5 ¼), Buss was sixth in the 200 (24.19), senior Megan Schott was sixth in the 1,500 (4:28), Swanson was seventh in the 400 hurdles (60.56), Christian qualified seventh in the 100 (11.75) but did not start in the final. She was eighth in the 200 (24.40).
“At the end of the day, when you go into a competition, you want to compete to win and always fight to win,” Woody said. “Our women did a great job of bringing it in every single event.”