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Men’s track solid in first combined event of season

BY MATT SCHOMMER | JANUARY 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa men’s track and field team fashioned some sterling individual performances in both the North and South during this past weekend.

In their first combined event of the season, the Hawkeyes split up, traveling to both Minnesota and Arkansas for the Jack Johnson and Razorback Invitationals.

In Arkansas, a venue that has hosted several NCAA track and field championships, four harriers managed to earn NCAA provisional qualifying times. Sophomore Erik Sowinski took first in the 800 meter and in the process notched the second-best mark all-time at Iowa in the event.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting to go that fast,” he said. “But just to be up there is pretty crazy. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”

Sowinski, along with junior Steven Willey, freshman Kevin Dibbern, and senior Ray Varner all provisionally qualified in the 1,600-meter relay. For Sowinski, Willey, and Varner, this is the second year in a row they have temporarily qualified for the event.

Iowa men’s head coach Larry Wieczorek said he has been pleased with the early performances of his squad.

“For this stage of the season, it’s going really, really well,” he said. “It was a good step forward for our team this weekend.”

Another pleasant surprise took place in Minnesota. Freshman Kyle Reid finished fifth in the heptathlon.

He struggled in some of the throwing and jumping events, but he made up for those setbacks with strong finishes on the track. He managed second-place finishes in both the pole vault and the 1,000-meter run.

Wieczorek is enjoying the freshmen.

“That’s the first time Kyle has participated in the heptathlon, and I think his performance is No. 6 on our all-time list,” Wieczorek said. “Needless to say, we really like our freshman class.”

Willey said he also thinks this year’s yoiung squad will influence how far the team can go.

“We have a young, deep team,” Willey said. “We should make nationals this year, and I’m excited about that.”

A few other Hawkeyes came up big in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Junior Brian Marchese placed second in the mile with a time of 4:13.45, less than a second away from taking first. Teammate Jeff Thode, another freshman, finished fourth.

Wieczorek said bumps are to be expected until conference competition begins.

“We still have a lot of work to do as we get closer to the Big Ten championship and start comparing ourselves to other Big Ten teams,” he said. “But I’m really happy with some of the good things we have done so far.”


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