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Track splitting to Auburn and nearby Pella

BY MATT SCHOMMER and MICHELE DANNO | APRIL 02, 2010 7:30 AM

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The weather has heated up in Iowa City, fortunately allowing the men and women tracksters to train comfortably outside. Unfortunately, their competition this weekend will be quite used to the sting of the sun and the sizzling surroundings.

Iowa will send most of its athletes to the Tiger Track Classic this weekend in Auburn, Ala. A few of the women will head to nearby Pella, Iowa.

The top distance women will take the weekend off, after being the only members of the squad to compete last weekend at Stanford.

Iowa distance coach Layne Anderson said he expects success across the board this weekend — both in Alabama and Pella. For his distance runners specifically, he said the trip to Pella will be an opportunity for women who have not yet competed this season.

“We decided to only take a limited number of ladies to Auburn,” Anderson said. “Pella is just an easy day trip, and it is not a big expense. But it will get some folks in competition at their level.”

For the women headed south, Anderson said the runners should see success based on past meets at Auburn.

Freshman multi-eventer Missy Miller said the team has compared some of the performances from this season with those of last season, and this year’s Hawkeyes are “leaps and bounds” ahead of where they were at this time last year.

In addition, she said, the Alabama meet is very conducive to fast times because of the favorable weather conditions and a top-notch facility. Still, she said, her focus for the meet is improvement — not necessarily winning.

For Miller, who redshirted during the indoor season, Auburn is only her second meet this year. She is responsible for seven events between the track and the field — some of which she has minimal experience competing in.

“I’m really focused on improvement more than anything,” she said. “I’m trying not to get discouraged, because everything is new to me.”

The men are hoping to clean up a few mistakes that have plagued them thus far in the outdoor season — namely, their relay squad’s performance.

Sophomore Erik Sowinski said the team has had a few technical problems in the races, but it’s to be expected this early in the new conditions.

“We are working on our relays,” he said. “Our handoffs were a little sloppy, and we are trying to improve on that.”

Head coach Larry Wieczorek said he saw some progress this week thanks to assistant coach Joey Woody and the time he spent with the team.

“I think we’ll see an improved performance out of our relay,” he said. “They got a chance to clean that up this week.”

The men are traveling with the maximum 34 athletes that the Big Ten allows for competition, and the Hawkeyes are excited about seeing how far they have progressed.

Wieczorek said the event is important, mainly because a majority of the Hawks will be there, and they will have the chance to see how they stack up against the nation’s best.

With SEC and ACC schools in the field, this meet should prove to be a pretty good measuring stick for Wieczorek and the Hawkeyes.

“I think there’s an excitement in our group because of our good performances last weekend,” Wieczorek said. “You can tell in practice that everyone is anxious to see what we look like as a team and to build on last weekend.”


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