Men’s track makes official border-state rivalry

BY ZACH SMITH | MAY 06, 2009 7:28 AM

In the beginning, there was just Floyd of Rosedale.

Then came the Cy-Hawk Trophy, followed decades later by the Heartland Trophy.

But the football team isn’t the only squad on campus with a traveling rivalry trophy anymore.
This spring, the Hawkeye men’s track and field program and border-state rival Illinois began competing annually in head-to-head dual track meets for a small, wooden, black and blue “I.”

“We thought, you know, being border states, it would be fun to have a dual meet,” Iowa head coach Larry Wieczorek said. “It would just be kind of a natural rivalry because we are friends. We thought it could be a fun rivalry that would be good for the athletes to kick off the season, but also good for the sport — to create a little interest in the sport of track and field.”

What makes this rivalry significant is the lack of bad blood between the two programs.

Illinois head coach Wayne Angel served as both the Hawkeyes’ head women’s cross-country coach as well as assistant coach for the women’s track and field program during his short stint in Iowa City. Angel then took the head coaching job at his alma mater in 2003, which led to the connection between the two programs.

The tiny trophy — no taller than a foot and weighing in at less than 10 pounds — was conceived in the spirit of good competition.

However, it doesn’t have a name yet.

They aren’t calling it the Illi-Hawk Trophy or the Battle for the “I,” but Wieczorek thinks the team will eventually come up with something catchy.

“We had the ‘I’ created, you know, for Illinois and Iowa,” he said. “Maybe we can come up with a name. We’ll have to think about that.”

The Hawkeye athletes have taken a liking to the new trophy, as well.

For the 22 male athletes who call Illinois their home state, the trophy has a somewhat special significance.

Even for non-Midwesterner John Hickey, the trophy has become an opportunity for the team to compete in a more traditional, team-oriented format.

“When it comes to track and field, there aren’t many chances that you get to have a real rivalry with [another] team,” he said. “The fact that we got that started this year really helped our competitive edge because you want to win.”

The first competition was won by Iowa on Jan. 10, 92-77.

But instead of stampeding across the track to grab the wooden “I” after the meet or stomping on the other team’s logo, the two squads shared a catered dinner at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to celebrate their coming together.

“It was something that the coaches thought about and talked about,” Wieczorek said. “I think it was the best thing in sports. You have a heated rivalry, you compete hard. Then you sit down and break bread together.”

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