Men’s track set for Ames, Seattle


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The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry permeates throughout that state.

But for the Iowa men’s track and field team, not so much.

As the Hawkeyes ready to compete in Seattle and Ames this weekend, the vaunted rivalry has lost a bit of its luster.

Several of the trackers said Iowa’s more heated rivalry is with Northern Iowa.

“It happened maybe two or three years ago at Drake Relays, where a lot of Iowa schools go,” senior Ray Varner said. “And in the papers it said ‘Panthers’ State,’ so that’s when it all began with us and UNI going at it.”

Iowa and Northern Iowa have had comparable success in the sprinting and middle-distance events, a trend that is likely to continue as the schools garner better track records in those categories.

“Iowa State has more of a distance-oriented program,” sophomore Connor Elmitt said. “So when it comes down to sprints, there’s not much head-to-head competition — not as much as a rivalry.”

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In recent meetings with the Cyclones, the Hawkeye sprinters and throwers have mainly had their way. Iowa State is better known for its cross-country and long-distance runners and usually doesn’t match up well with Iowa.

And while the competition between the two programs might be slightly subdued on the track, the repulsion remains.

“I hate Iowa State because Iowa State sucks in general,” senior Adam Hairston said. “Being from Iowa, I guess that’s kind of bred in you.”

But there is another, more intimate reason the Hawkeyes have become more aggressive toward Northern Iowa. Part of it grows from assistant coach Joey Woody’s involvement with the two universities.

Woody, a former athlete on three U.S. World teams and a star for the Panthers, graduated, ran, and coached for Northern Iowa. However, he has since become the sprints coach for the Hawkeye men’s squad.

Several of the athletes know about Woody’s history and embrace it when competing against his alma mater.

The Hawkeyes believe the strong emotion toward the other state schools provides for some interesting meets and results. While Woody certainly feels the heat from competing against past friends, his focus remains on this weekend’s events, including facing the Cyclones.

“Iowa State actually has some really good young kids,” he said. “They’ve really turned things around the last couple years, so definitely there’s going to be some heated battles. But we’re going to put our best efforts out there and compete at the highest level.”

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