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Same meet, different results for men and women’s track

BY MATT SCHOMMER and MICHELE DANNO | MARCH 29, 2010 7:30 AM

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The men’s and women’s track teams went to California over the weekend, but the squads came home with entirely different impressions.

For the men, the weekend in the Golden State proved to be a more sedative place than for the women.

“It was a little more laid-back for everybody,” said sophomore Erik Sowinski, who placed fourth in the 400-meter — his career début in the event. “It was a meet to get the cobwebs out. It wasn’t even on schedule at the beginning of the year.”

Head men’s coach Larry Wieczorek pointed out a few of the “cobwebs” he saw in the men’s first outdoor meet. He noted the 4-by-4 relay as an event to improve on following a few technical snafus with the baton that caused the team to be ineligible for the race.

“Now, we’ve got something to tweak,” he said. “We can go back to work, and get it corrected, and go to Auburn, and put it together a little bit better.”

Even with a few gaffes, there remained some collegiate-best performances.

Steven Willey, who holds the record for the 400-meter on the indoor track, began the outdoor season with a personal best in the same event, earning him the fifth-highest mark in Iowa’s record books.

The junior managed the feat in Fayetteville, Ark., where the wind was not so kind as in California.

Willey will have to put forth a massive effort if he wants to capture both the indoor and outdoor record — one currently held by former Olympian Anthuan Maybank. Willey’s coach, though, is still optimistic.

“The outdoor record is a pretty strong one, but Steven does have some time ahead of him,” Wieczorek said. “I would set no limits for him.”

Wieczorek hopes Willey’s performance is only a taste of the outdoor season’s success, something that may be based on the team participating in the meet in the first place.

The Hawkeyes weren’t scheduled to run at the Stanford Invitational, but Wieczorek and his staff felt that getting started sooner in the season may be beneficial for everyone and keep the continuity between the indoor and outdoor sessions.

“We heard about this meet [in California] and wanted to start a little earlier rather than wait for the meet down at Auburn,” he said. “And I think it worked out well. Our expectations are pretty high at this time of the year. We told them that we want them to perform at a high level right now.”

For the women, however, California wasn’t as even-tempered.

“Competition was fierce,” women’s head coach Layne Anderson said. “The women who ran faster than ours are tops in the NCAA. They are girls who will finish high at the national meet.”

Betsy Flood ran the 5K for the first time and finished second in her heat with a 16:32 mark. The sophomore said the other schools pushed the Hawkeyes in their second outdoor event of the season.

“It’s one of our bigger meets of the outdoor season, and we took it pretty seriously,” she said. “The competition varied by heat. Some heats even ran the Olympic A standard.”

Even though the squad members felt they performed adequately, Anderson said the team seeks more than that.

“We’re looking to do more than just run well,” he said. “We’re looking for national marks.”


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