Sowinski blossoming quickly for track and field team


Mohammed Alhadab / The Daily Iowan
Iowa runner Erik Sowinski practices in the Recreation Building on Feb. 10.
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Sophomore Erik Sowinski hasn’t slowed down all season.

The star trackster continues to shine during competition, most recently breaking the 800-meter record at Iowa for the second meet in a row.

The Iowa coaches are excited about his potential and glad he has a couple more years in the program.

“He has a great future ahead of himself, and he has continued to really develop,” head coach Larry Wieczorek said. “He has two and a half years to go, and he’s getting better and better.”

Sowinski attributes most of his achievements this far to the group of athletes he trains with and their competitive natures bringing out the best in one another.

“Just the way our training has progressed, he can do some really great things,” senior Adam Hairston said. “We all push each other in practice and sort of feed off each other.”

These training sessions have helped Sowinski in other events besides the 800 meters, which he dominates. He has become the anchor for the 1,600-meter relay team, an event that hadn’t been his strongest in the past.

“It’s a measure of his improvement,” Wieczorek said. “The sky is the limit on what he can do. He’s getting faster, speed-wise, and stronger stamina-wise.”

Quiet by nature, Sowinski has let his performance on the track do the talking. And only being a sophomore, he will have time to fill into more of a vocal leader if he so chooses.

“Everyone just calls me shy,” he said. “I lead more by example and try to put 100 percent into every workout.”

What’s even more impressive is the Wisconsin native’s athletics history and rapid rise to success. He didn’t start running track until his sophomore year of high school, and he only began looking for track offers in April of his senior year.

“Before my senior year, I definitely wasn’t good enough to run at a D-I school,” he said.

In fact, Sowinski’s only offers came from Iowa and Wisconsin. In the end, he said, he just felt more comfortable in Iowa City with the strong mix of athletics and academics — another important facet of Sowinski’s life.

Wieczorek praised him for not only being a catalyst for the squad but for his academic prowess as well.

“He’s very outstanding in the classroom,” he said. “I’m happy to see that some of our best athletes are also our best students.”

The combination of athleticism and intellectual capacity makes Sowinski a prized competitor and student, a rarity in most schools.

And while he brings smarts and skills to the table, he isn’t lacking the all-important intangibles.

“He has a big heart,” Wieczorek said. “It’s a big thing, the way he competes. People see him put his heart into what he’s doing, and that’s something that inspires other people.”

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