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the universe the Big Ten. We don't often lead off INP with track and field news, but when the Iowa men's track and field team does something that no other group of track and fielders had done at Iowa in over 40 years -- win a Big Ten title -- well, it's a no-brainer. The title came down to the final event, the 4x400 relay; Iowa trailed Minnesota by 0.5 points and simply needed to finish ahead of the Gophers in the event to win. Iowa finished 2nd, a half-second ahead of the 4th place Gophers, giving Iowa the overall crown, 125.5 points to 123 points. Entering Sunday's competition, a title seemed like a pipe dream for the Hawkeyes -- they had home track advantage (the tournament was held at Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track in Iowa City), but little else going for them, trailing Minnesota, the five-time defending champions, by over 50 points.
Justin Austin got Iowa off to a strong start with a 3rd place finish in the 100-meter dash and a 1st place finish in the 200-meter dash.
Austin’s 200 time of 20.46 seconds was not only a school record, but also the third-best time in the nation this spring.
"It feels really good to break the school record, and to get a (personal record)," Austin said, even more pleased about his national ranking. "It really got me excited, to get my name out there. People will be afraid of me now."
Steven Willey contributed a 2nd place finish in the 400-meter dash and Erik Sowinski added another runner-up finish in the 800-meter run. Ethan Holmes added 2nd place fnishes in the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles; D'Juan Richardson added a 3rd place finish the 400-meter hurdles, too. The field athletes kicked in a few wins, too: Troy Doris took 1st in the Triple Jump and Matt Byers took 1st in the Javelin Throw.
The women didn't fare quite as well -- they finished 8th, well behind eventual champions Ohio State. Individually, there were a few bright spots, though: Bethany Praska won the 800-meter run (with a track-record time) and led the way for an Iowa 1st-place finish in the 4x400 relay as well. The wonderfully-named Majesty Tutson did well too, taking 2nd place in the discus throw (and breaking her own school record twice in the process). Well done to all the athletes involved and for Coach Larry Wieczorek, who was a competitor on the last Iowa team to win a conference crown (in 1967) and who's been a coach at Iowa since 1985. This win was a long time coming. And to do it over Minnesota? Even more delicious. Because seriously: fuck Minnesota.
Fear of a Buckeye planet. A week ago, the Iowa baseball team finally put together a solid weekend of performances, winning their first series of the Big Ten season over Penn State. They took two out of three games from the Nittany Lions to keep alive their slim hopes of making the Big Ten Tournament; I noted that at a minimum they needed to also do that in their final two series of the year, against Ohio State and Purdue. The good news is that they managed to do just that against the Buckeyes in Columbus this weekend. They blitzed OSU 7-0 on Friday and rallied to win 9-8 in 10 innings on Saturday before dropping the series finale, 10-4, on Sunday. The bad news is taking two of three might not be enough for Iowa to sneak into sixth place and make the Big Ten Tournament. After the weekend, Iowa sits at 9-12 in the league, good for 9th place. Three teams -- Purdue, Indiana, and Ohio State -- are tied for 4th through 6th at 11-10 in the league. Iowa closes out the year with a road trip to OMHR next weekend, so they still control their own destiny -- but their margin of error is nil. Barring epic collapses by Indiana and/or Ohio State, Iowa likely has no choice but to sweep Purdue next week to retain any hope of making the Big Ten Tournament.
Grapple grapple grapple. Remember those proposed changes to NCAA wrestling that we mentioned a few weeks back? The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel examined those changes last week -- and approved them all. The rule changes should improve the quality of wrestling across the board next year. The granting-an-escape rule allows the offensive wrestler to concede an escape point and return the match to a neutral position, which means an end to the practice of "cutting" opponents as well as less time wasted on cautions that often occur doing restarts. Two of the other rules involve regulating stalling and injury timeouts; for the former the rules set forth a series of guidelines about what types of behaviors are unacceptable in a match and will lead to a warning (and/or penalty points). For the latter situation the rules set forth a clear policy for non-bleeding injury timeouts: the first time it happens the opponent gets to choose his position on the restart; the second time it happens the opponent is awarded a point; the third time it happens the opponent is awarded the victory by default. The rationale for the rule change is pretty clear:
The NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee is concerned that wrestlers have been using the injury timeout rule as a strategy to avoid wrestling action or being scored on. Committee members want to eliminate this type of gamesmanship from the sport.
Uh... yep. That sort of chicanery has absolutely been going on (and driving fans crazy), so it's nice to see the Rules Committee taking a stand against it. The final rule change involves the introduction of limited video review in individual-advancement tournaments; only recording points, timing, match results, and procedural errors can be reviewed. From an Iowa perspective, these are very welcome rules changes: they reward aggressive wrestling and punish overly defensive, stall-happy wrestling. If these rule changes cut down on guys hugging the out-of-bounds line or just hanging on a guy's leg or taking "lung timeouts" -- bravo, NCAA Wrestling Rules Committee.
- One of the greatest Iowa hoops teams of all-time, the 1986-87 team that went 30-5 and made it to the Elite 8, is slated to be honored sometime next season.
- Thanks to the desire of ABC/ESPN and Fox to throw gobs of money at conferences to retain the status quo, Iowa State is no imminent danger of becoming a homeless athletic program -- but that isn't stopping Paul Rhoads from rocking one hell of a hobo beard as he makes the rounds in Iowa.
- Drowning in off-season doldrums? Maize 'n' Brew has some tips to get you through the offseason.
- Because it's never too early to think ahead, Mocking the Draft has a 2012 NFL Draft profile on Riley Reiff.