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Men’s track and field team places in top-half at Big Ten Championships

BY MATT SCHOMMER | MARCH 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Minnesota men’s track team might soon be able to call itself “Déjà U.”

For the second-straight year, the Golden Gophers blew away their conference foes en route to another Big Ten championship in front of a raucous home crowd in Minneapolis.

While the Iowa men’s 56 points are dwarfed in comparison with Minnesota’s 160.5, it still couldn’t have gone much better for the Hawkeyes.

After a first day that featured only seven points from the Iowa squad, Day Two proved to be a different story.

The Hawkeyes had much needed success in the last event of the meet by accruing eight important points from the legs of Erik Sowinski, Ray Varner, Kevin Dibbern, and Steven Willey.

The quartet earned second place in the 4-by-400 meter relay — less than a second off Ohio State’s pace.

“We are real happy with [the results],” head coach Larry Wieczorek said. “You always see where you can get some more points and things like that, but I think we might have done about as well as we can. We are real pleased.”

He said the first performance against a Big Ten team, Illinois, ended with Iowa prevailing in the 1,600 to win the meet. Iowa then beat Indiana in the 1,600 of this competition to jump from sixth to fifth place overall.

“Last year, we left the Big Tens pretty disappointed,” senior Adam Hairston said. “So the biggest difference is that we were pretty happy with how we finished as a team. We went in with a goal of being top five, and we did that.”

This year’s finish was far better than last year’s disappointing eighth place, and the big boost in both results and performance should help the Hawkeyes in their final meet before the NCAA championship.

One athlete who should have increased confidence for the upcoming meet is Dan Rolling.

The senior finished 10th in the heptathlon with more than 5,000 points and later spoke modestly about the feat.

“It was disappointing to have a relatively decent performance and still not score any points for the team,” he said. “I’m disappointed with how I feel having an accomplishment like that.”

Rolling now holds the all-time best mark at Iowa in that event, and he is only the third Hawkeye to break the 5,000-point plateau. Teammate and fellow senior Frank Prill also got to 5,000 points this weekend; he ranks third in Iowa history.

Rolling, who battled hamstring problems throughout the season, said he entered Minneapolis healthier than he had been in past meets.

Wieczorek said results such as these are great springboards for the outdoor season, in which Iowa has usually excelled.

“It’s like a football team that got fifth in the Big Ten conference. They still get to go to a nice bowl game,” he said. “This was definitely a step in the right direction.”


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