Each week I’ll be recapping the previous week in the world of non-revenue sports and giving y’all a look at what’s ahead. Let’s dive in.
First off, perhaps the biggest news of the week of the week was the
Iowa baseball team AMERICA coming in second at the World University Games. Japan won the title with a 10-0 win over the Hawkeyes.
As the tweet states, that’s the first (ever!) American medal at the Games in baseball. So that’s pretty cool.
How’d they get there? Well, it all started with a 4-1 record in pool play, as the Hawkeyes beat Russia and Mexico before falling 11-5 to Japan a first time. Oh, Cole McDonald no-hit the Czechs and then the Hawkeyes rallied in the 9th inning past Korea.
They kept the ball rolling with an 8-4 win over the Czechs before falling to the Japanese in the gold medal game.
Whew. That’s a lot of baseball.
It’s also a good thing. Last year, Iowa got a chance to go to the Dominican Republic and later in the season, Rick Heller said it would have been an “entirely different” year without the trip.
There’s something about traveling that brings players together. It’s why so many college teams (including Iowa basketball this year) go overseas to do this kinda stuff.
Just as importantly, it’s a lot of extra practice — Iowa has pretty much been playing straight since last spring. They’ll probably play a few fall games too. This could be an extraordinarily dangerous team come college baseball season.
Iowa track adds Werskey to take over throws program
This was a hire Iowa absolutely needed to make — a new assistant track coach to take over the throws program. They have their man.
From everything I’ve heard, Werskey is a talented coach and considered an up-and-comer in the world of track and field. He graduated from Auburn in 2011, though transferred to the Tigers after spending a year with Indiana. He’s from the Hoosier State originally (Seymour High School) and actually finished third at the Big Ten Championships in discus his freshman year.
At Auburn he really bloomed, however, and became a three-time All-American for the TIgers. After graduating, he trained at the Olympic training center and slowly got into coaching.
In 2015 he took a job at Cal State-Northridge overseeing the throwers until Iowa head coach Joey Woody offered him a job at Iowa following the departure of Andrew Dubs a few weeks ago.
"I am excited to add Eric to our program," Woody told Hawkeye Sports. "He is a guy who has done it at the highest level as an athlete in college and on the international stage. He had the opportunity to train alongside medalists from the Olympic team, and in a short amount of time he has become one of the best throws coaches in the country. We're fortunate he is a Hawkeye."
Having deep connections to international competition is great for Iowa. Laulauga Tausaga won a gold medal at the Pan-American Games this summer and Reno Tuufuli is going to have a chance to compete at the highest levels as well.
Getting a good, respected coach with experience with high level training was always going to be incredibly important with this hire. It’s one of the best throws programs in the country and certainly one of the best groups on the Iowa Track and Field team.
It also sounds like Tufuuli and Tausaga are both going to stay at Iowa, which was another slight worry I had following the coaching change.
"During the interview process I felt at home and sensed a great bond amongst the coaching staff,” Werskey said to Hawkeye Sports. “I am very excited to join an already successful and storied program, and look forward to adding to its already established throws program at the Big Ten and NCAA Championship levels."
We’re glad you’re here too. Welcome to Iowa.
One more thing — Randy Hasenbank also had the interim tag removed from his title. He’s now an associate head coach cross country/assistant track and field coach. A long title, but all it means is that Iowa’s decided to give him full reign over the cross country and distance program.
Soccer starts season 2-1, wins OT thriller over Iowa State
Yes, of course I’m going to start this win a beauty of a goal against That Team Out West.
As Mike Breen would say... BANG.
That goal to break the scoreless tie came with two minutes left in overtime off the foot of sophomore Olivia Fiegel and was assisted by Karly Stuenkel. Iowa 1, Iowa State 0.
Iowa opened the year with a 5-1 win over Richmond. They were also supposed to play VCU, but weather canceled that game.
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes lost a tough game to No. 24 Notre Dame, 2-0. Goals were at an absolute premium last year for Iowa and it remains to be seen whether Richmond really was that bad or if head coach Dave DiIanni has yet to get the type of offense he wants in place.
Iowa’s recruited fairly well over the past couple seasons (though there have been some misses, including two excellent players from Iowa City West — Emma Cooper and Regan Steigleder, both headed to other Big Ten schools) and now in his fourth season as the Hawkeyes coach, it would be nice to see the team return to being a serious threat in the conference.
Field hockey drops two games to start the season, Cellucci given extension
It’s been a bit of a rough start to the season for the Iowa Field Hockey team, but each of those losses came against teams that will probably make the NCAA tournament this year.
Iowa dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 15 Wake Forest and were blanked 3-0 by No. 1 North Carolina.
Oh, and head coach Lisa Cellucci was given a contract extension through 2022. Cellucci is in her 18th year with the program and 4th as head coach.
"I'm grateful for this contract extension and for the opportunity to continue to build upon the strong history and tradition of excellence of Iowa field hockey," Cellucci said in a release. "I am a proud product of the Iowa field hockey program and I owe this program and those that came before me so much for who I am as a coach and an overall person. I truly look forward to being able to provide that same life changing experience to many more women in the years ahead."
In her four years at the helm, Iowa is 32-24 and 10-16 in Big Ten play. They haven’t made it out of the first round of the Big Ten tournament since 2014, the last year Tracey Griesbaum was coaching.
You can look at this two ways. On one hand, Cellucci has helped Iowa through a tremendous upheaval in the program and kept it relatively stable. The Hawkeyes have one of the best field hockey venues in the Big Ten and it’s in a great location.
Recruiting seems to be staying above average and for all intents and purposes, she’s done a good job. That said, this is a program that has been to 22 NCAA Tournaments, 11 Final Fours, has 12 Big Ten Titles (and another 5 Big Ten Tournament Titles) as well as a national championship.
Excellence is expected and getting some postseason wins needs to happen. This is one of the programs with the deepest history of success at the university and should be treated as such.
Shymansky contract extension, volleyball starts season 2-1
Cellucci wasn’t the only Iowa coach given a contract extension, as Iowa head volleyball coach Bond Shymansky is now inked at Iowa through 2022.
Shymansky is in his fourth year at the helm, having gone 12-21 in 2015, and improving to 19-13 last season. The 19 games Iowa won last year were the most since 1994.
Underwhelming, but Iowa has never been a school known for its volleyball. Shymansky has shaken things up during his first three seasons at Iowa and seems to have the program headed in the right direction.
"I grew up right here in Iowa City and always knew how to fight for Iowa," Shymansky said in a release. "Now I get to fight for Iowa every single day alongside great people. I know that we have everything we need to be successful and we will continue our program mission of True Mental Toughness. My coaching journey is not complete yet, but I sure hope to retire as a Hawkeye some day in the distant future."
Time will tell if last year was a fluke, but so far though this young season, the Hawkeyes are 2-1, with wins over Wright State and Long Beach State in the Long Beach State Invitational. Iowa dropped its only match to No. 2 Stanford, falling in three sets.
Slightly related, I’m a fan of the new graphics Iowa is using across its Twitter accounts:
Schedule for the week ahead:
Soccer vs. Southern Utah, 7 p.m., Iowa City
Cross country (M&W) — Hawkeye Invite, 6 p.m., Iowa City
Volleyball vs. Nebraska-Omaha, 12 p.m., Coastal Carolina, 7.p.m., Iowa City
Field hockey at Stanford, 4 p.m., Stanford, CA
Volleyball vs. Coastal Carolina, 2 p.m., Indiana State, 7 p.m., Iowa City
Field hockey vs. California, 12 p.m., Berkeley, CA
Soccer vs. UC Santa Barbara, 11 a.m., Minneapolis, MN
Field hockey vs. UC Davis, 12 p.m., Davis, CA