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Hickey eyes 3rd title at Big Tens

BY ZACH SMITH | FEBRUARY 27, 2009 7:30 AM

John Hickey’s showing at the 2008 Big Ten indoor championships in Minneapolis, in which he captured his second Big Ten title in the shot put with a toss of 61-93⁄4, is not one he will soon forget.

As only the fourth Hawkeye in history to win a Big Ten championship in the shot put, Hickey has further cemented his legacy in Iowa track and field lore by breaking Jeremy Allen’s school record of eight years at the Iowa State Classic on Feb. 14, with a colossal toss of 63 feet.

The senior will try to duplicate both of those performances this weekend as he and the rest of the Iowa men’s track and field team travel to State College, Pa., for the Big Ten indoor championships.
Hickey has never been worse than a top-two finisher at the conference championships, placing second as a freshman before back-to-back title runs as a sophomore and junior. The Piermont, N.Y., native said he is extremely focused on winning a third-consecutive Big Ten crown in his final trip to the indoor championships.

“The atmosphere of the meet really helps my performance,” he said. “Just knowing that anyone could pop a big throw and win really helps me focus on what I need to do.

“[This meet] is all about maintaining the highest level there is in the Big Ten and I’d like to go out on top as a senior.”

Hickey, however, isn’t the only Hawkeye with high expectations.

Iowa also has a handful of other athletes hoping to earn all-conference honors.

Sprinter Paul Chaney, Jr. finished eighth at last year’s meet in both the 60-meters and the 200-meters. The multi-sport athlete has already eclipsed his 60-meters time from last year’s Big Ten indoor championships (6.92) by winning the Iowa Invite on Feb. 20 with a time of 6.80 which ranks third all-time in Iowa history.

Sophomore Dan Rolling also hopes to regain all-Big Ten status after finishing third in the high jump last year.

Coming off last year’s eighth place finish, Iowa head coach Larry Wieczorek thinks the 2009 Hawkeyes are an improved team from a year ago.

As the season has progressed, Wieczorek has observed his team making the kinds of gains he would expect from any competitive track and field team.

“[Before the Iowa Invitational] we talked about how we need to get better in those big meets — the Meyo meet and the Iowa State meet — and we did,” Wieczorek said. “I think we got a little bit better [at the Iowa Invite]. We won near every event there and that’s always good, against any competition.”

Adam Hairston hopes to improve on his second place finish in the 800-meters a year ago (1:53.30).

The junior expects to repeat his all-Big Ten performance as an individual, but he will also play a key role in the Hawkeyes’ 4x400-meter relay team. Hairston said his focus on the conference meet has not altered since the opening weekend of the season.

“[Winning the 800] was the goal coming into the season and that hasn’t changed,” he said. “When it comes to championship races, I think I perform well. I bring that competitive attitude.

“I think just being at the Big Ten championships, being at that level of competition will really bring out the best in me.”


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