IOWA CITY, Iowa – Hanging banners is not just a figure of speech for Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody. It has become a matter of habit in Iowa City, and may become an annual tradition.
“That’s the plan,” Woody said Wednesday inside the UI Rec Building, where the Hawkeyes unveiled the 2021 Big Ten Men’s Indoor Championship banner and updated three marks on the school record board. “Our expectation is that our men and women are both contending for titles every single year.”
The Iowa men got it done Feb. 27 at the Big Ten Conference Indoor Championships. The Hawkeyes literally ran away from the competition, scoring a school-record 119 points to win the team title. On one hand, it was a long time coming. Iowa had not won an indoor conference championship since 1929. On the other hand, you could see it coming. The men’s group has turned into a perennial contender, winning two of the last three contested Big Ten Championships, including the 2019 outdoor title on their home track.
The women’s group has shown similar trends. Iowa finished third at the Big Ten meet Feb. 27, its fourth top three finish at the last five championships. As the outdoor season enters Week 3, the women are rated No. 20 nationally in the USTFCCCA National Rating Index, third best among Big Ten teams. The men are the top rated Big Ten team, checking in at No. 18.
“I think we have two teams that can compete to win outdoor,” Woody said. “It’s just a matter of us continuing to build our program to win and we’re on our way. It’s a little different on the women’s side because when I first took over, I really wasn’t working with the women and we were kind of separate programs for a long time. The women have really started to come on strong the last few years. We’ve been knocking on the door. Now it’s about taking that next step and winning the title.”
“I think we have two teams that can compete to win outdoor. It’s just a matter of us continuing to build our program to win and we’re on our way."Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody
Part of Wednesday’s pageantry, Woody said, was celebrating Iowa’s recent success, showing appreciation for the athletes, and moving on from the indoor season while getting redialed in on the outdoor season.
That ‘turning of the page’ included updating the record board. Jamal Britt, Peyton Haack and Wayne Lawrence, Jr. all set school records during the indoor season. Lawrence broke his own mark in the 400 meters. Britt set a new 60-meter hurdle record and Haack set the Heptathlon mark.
All three records were just a year old, an indication no record is safe and the “hanging of the banner” celebrations are, in fact, becoming habit.
“When you see trophies and you see banners it starts to become part of the expectation,” Woody said.
So does Iowa have a new tradition on its hand?
“That’s the plan,” Woody reiterated.