Iowa kicks off the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships today in Bloomington, Indiana, looking for the first team title by either the men’s or women’s squads since 2011.
Fun fact: Until the Hawkeye baseball team’s Big Ten Tournament championship last season, the men’s track team title in ‘11 was the last time the school won any sort of conference title.
The Iowa track team comes into the Big Ten meet with 37 athletes and relays ranked in the top-10 of the conference, including eight at the No. 1 spot. Only two teams have more athletes in the top-10 than Iowa — Nebraska and Minnesota.
What I’m saying here is that the Hawkeye’s have a chance to do some damage. The men finished 5th as a team a year ago and the women 7th. Expect both of the those numbers to go up this year and it’s not just me that’s confident.
“This team has as much talent as we have ever had, but the biggest thing is we have more depth than we have ever had,” Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody said to HawkeyeSports. “We have a lot of athletes competing to make finals; we have always had great, elite athletes competing to win championships, but now we have more depth and that’s where you score more team points. We’re probably the best we have ever been, both men and women.”
He’s not wrong. Woody and his staff have been building in a steady process over the past several years and it’s going to eventually pay off. Iowa’s put in a new extremely high level indoor track, made itself into a destination program for athletes and have started to make a name for themselves on the national level.
More and more Hawkeye athletes are competing in the NCAA Regionals and Championships each season, something that’s really great to see.
Looks like the weather in Bloomington should be warm and sunny this weekend, hopefully leading to some real quick times.
As far as following along this weekend, I’d suggest @IowaXC_TF as it’s ran by the UI and they do a great job of getting the highlights up. For you hardcore track junkies, FloTrack is doing a stream, BTN+ will have weekend-long coverage and live stats can be found here.
Speaking of video, here’s two other things to watch this weekend:
Seven at the top
Iowa comes into the meet with seven athletes and events holding onto the top spot in the conference.
The trick, however, will be keeping it.
The Hawkeyes return two Big Ten Champions: senior Brittany Brown (200) and sophomore Laulauga Tausaga (discus). They both lead in those events heading into the meet and perhaps are the safest bets to still be No. 1 on Saturday night.
Mar’yea Harris in the 400 meters (45.71) is another athlete in the seven and has the best time in the event by over four tenths of a second. The junior finished second last year at the meet in the 400 and went to be a part of the record-setting 4x400 that finished third at the NCAA Championships.
Speaking of the men’s 4x400, that event also leads the conference this season. Harris, Collin Hofacker, Antonio Woodard, and DeJuan Frye make up the relay and very well could lead this event to a win.
Jahiska Thomas leads the Big Ten in the long and triple jump — 21-1.5, 43-8.5, respectively — and should be another name to watch. Her long jump best ranks ninth in the NCAA this season. Andrea Shine in the 10,000 meters and Nathan Mylenek in the steeplechase round out Iowa’s conference leaders.
It’s still Hurdle-U
Chris Douglas had some pretty massive shoes to full coming into this season.
A hurdler, he was following one of the best to ever come through Iowa — Aaron Mallett, who is now professionally with Adidas. Douglas has preformed well, currently second in the conference in 400 hurdles and sixth in the 110’s.
He’s not the only one one to find some success this season. Raymonte Dow and Noah Larrison have the fifth and sixth best conference times in the 400 hurdles on the men’s side.
Sommer Sharpe is sixth in the women’s 400 hurdles.