Hawk relay wins at Drake

BY ZACH SMITH | APRIL 27, 2009 7:27 AM

Iowa assistant coach Joey Woody called it before the Hawkeye men’s track and field team made the short trip to Des Moines for the 100th running of the Drake Relays.

“We’re really excited about our relay [teams],” the Drake Relays Hall of Famer said on April 22.
Little did the former world champion know how true his words would come to be.

The Hawkeyes’ 4x100-meter relay team of freshmen D’Juan Richardson and Patrick Richards, sophomore Zeke Sayon, and junior Paul Chaney Jr. was in the mix for the championship heat after finishing fourth in the preliminary heat on April 24 (40.58).

However, April 25’s rainy and windy forecast played to the Hawkeyes’ advantage, and they pulled a rope-a-dope on the rest of the 400-meter relay field, finishing first with a time of 40.71, barely edging second-place Georgia (41.11).

The victory marked the first time Hawkeye men’s competitors have won a title in a Drake track event since former Iowa distance runner Stetson Steele won the 5,000 meters in 2000, and the win was the “highlight of the weekend,” said head coach Larry Wieczorek.

Senior John Hickey even went as far as saying it was “one of the greatest steps [he] has seen the team make since [he] has been [at Iowa].”

“The freshmen whom we’ve brought in have made the biggest contribution that I have ever seen,” the 2009 indoor shot put All-American said. “They have all been pushing themselves to perform at the highest level. The fact that [the 4x100-meter relay team] can go out in the rain and run a 40.71 and just dominate the field — it was amazing.”

The Hawkeye senior shot putter added a second Drake Relays medal to his hardware collection after finishing third with a throw of 59-01⁄4. Despite the strong showing, Hickey said he was disappointed with the way his weekend of competition played out after finishing behind Kentucky’s Chase Madison (59-111⁄4) and Minnesota’s Aaron Studt (61-53⁄4) in his final Drake Relays appearance as a Hawkeye.

“I was a bit disappointed because I got second [at the Drake Relays] last year,” he said. “[The competition] was the same guys I have been competing against for the past four years. It was pretty much open for anyone to win. I just didn’t perform to where I should’ve been, and that’s why it was a little disappointing [for me].”

Fellow senior A.J. Curtis placed fifth in the shot put (58-0 1/4) and seventh in the discus (170-2). Freshman Ryan Lamparek threw 53-53⁄4, which was good for 18th place, and he also finished 14th in the discus (159-6) in his first Drake Relays appearance as a Hawkeye.

Hawkeye junior Zach Schimp turned in a third place finish in the javelin competition with a throw of 204-8. Fellow junior Ray Varner finished second in the 400-meter hurdles (51.80) and ran the anchor-leg of the Hawkeyes’ 4x400-meter relay team, which finished fourth. The Hawkeyes’ sprint medley team of Richards, Chaney Jr., Chris Barton, and Adam Hairston finished second to Northern Iowa (3:19.55) by only half of a second.

“It was a terrific weekend for us,” Wieczorek said. “I always look at the Drake Relays as our most important meet — a national-level meet, really. [On April 24], we got out to a good start with the 4x100-meter relay making the final heat and the NCAA qualifying standard. Everything pretty much went from there.”

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