By DARREN MILLER
EUGENE, Ore. — This school is known for distance runners, that school has sprinters. This school focuses on jumps, that school emphasizes throws.
If there is anything that sticks out about the University of Iowa track and field program this season it should be the comprehensiveness of its success. Of the six coaches on staff, all six are represented this week with at least one student-athlete competing at the NCAA Championships.
When Joey Woody took the Hawkeye coaching baton from Larry Wieczorek in 2014, he wanted to continue fielding a complete program.
“That’s the best way to win as a team,” said Woody, who on June 4 was named Midwest Region Coach of the Year.
Under Woody, the Hawkeyes have done a lot of winning — 2019 Big Ten Men’s Outdoor Championship, 2021 Big Ten Men’s Indoor Championship, 2021 Big Ten Men’s Outdoor Championship. Iowa has 15 entries in Eugene (10 men, five women), tying the program record for the most entries since 2010.
“It is a credit to our coaching staff because everybody is involved in the whole process of us being successful,” Woody said. “To be able to get athletes to the national meet is the next step of competing to do big things at the national meet.”
But it isn’t easy. For men’s programs, a fully funded NCAA Division I team will have 12.6 scholarships and a women’s team has 18. That means the vast majority of track scholarships are given as partial scholarships. Not only are Iowa’s coaches recruiting well, they are also developing talent.
“Our success speaks more to the development of our athletes, not just recruiting good talent and putting them out on the track,” Woody said. “For us, it is more about getting good athletes and developing them. Being able to spread the wealth across all the event groups is a sign of that.”
“For us, it is more about getting good athletes and developing them. Being able to spread the wealth across all the event groups is a sign of that.”Joey Woody, University of Iowa director of track and field
It’s all hands on deck for the Hawkeye coaches when it comes to instructing multi-event performers Jenny Kimbro, Will Daniels and Austin West. Woody is in charge of hurdles, short sprints and relays, Jason Wakenight handles long sprinters, Randy Hasenbank coaches distance, Eric Werskey has throwers, Clive Roberts specializes in horizontal jumps and Paige Knodle with vertical jumps.
It has added up to a banner year for the Hawkeyes.
“I don’t think we have had this many across all the events,” Woody said. “We have had one year a thrower and jumper, the next year we have a hurdler and a long sprinter and 4×4. This is the first year I think we have had athletes qualify in every event group.”
The Hawkeye men advanced both the 4×100 and 4×400 relays to the NCAA Championships, a goal Woody has for the women in the near future.
“The next step is getting more relays on the women’s side,” he said.
The NCAA Championships begins Wednesday with Daniels and West in the men’s decathlon, as well as Hawkeyes in the 4×100 relay (Jaylan McConico, Antonio Woodard, Gratt Reed, Austin Kresley ran at the NCAA West Preliminary), 3,000 steeplechase (Nathan Mylenek), 110 hurdles (McConico, Jamal Britt), 400 meters (Wayne Lawrence, Jr.), long jump (James Carter, Jr.), 400 hurdles (Britt) and 4×400 relay (Woodard, Austin Lietz, Julien Gillum, Lawrence, Jr., Tyler Olson or Spencer Gudgel could compete).
The NCAA Championships run June 9-12 at Hayward Field. The championships are streamed live at Watch ESPN. A complete schedule of events with links to live results is available HERE.