Intrasquad meet unofficially kicks off men's indoor track season


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Two weeks ago, Larry Wieczorek's office overlooked a gray scene of construction as the renovation of Carver-Hawkeye Arena continued.

Now, in a makeshift office located in a suite in Kinnick Stadium's press box, the outside scene has changed to a more colorful football field.

The Hawkeye men's head track and field coach was quick to point out how much his view had improved.

But the view from his office isn't the only improvement. Now entering his 15th season as Iowa's head track and field coach, Wieczorek thinks he may have the most complete team he has had during his time in Iowa City.

The Hawkeye men will have their first opportunity to show why their coach is so excited on Saturday afternoon with the annual intrasquad meet scheduled to start at 4 p.m. in the Recreation Building.

"We coaches are excited about the intrasquad meet because of the quality of our team and the quality of our athletes," Wieczorek said. "So we're kind of anxious to get going."

The Hawkeyes are coming off a fourth-place finish in the outdoor Big Ten championships and a fifth-place finish at the indoor Big Tens last season. Those performances came on the heels of seventh- and ninth-place finishes at the 2009 outdoor and indoor Big Ten meets.

This year, the squad hopes to be a top-three team in the conference.

"I feel like this is one of most complete teams since I've been here," senior captain and sprinter Zeke Sayon said. "This year, I feel like we can score in every event, so now we're set up to start competing for first and second."

Returning this year are all four members of the 4x400 meter relay team. Chris Barton, Patrick Richards, Erik Sowinski, and Steven Willey all achieved All-American status last season, and Willey was also named an All-American in the 400 meters.

Given the recent success and high expectations heading into the season, the team is putting an added emphasis on this year's intrasquad meet.

"I've encouraged our men to say, 'Let's think at a high level,' " Wieczorek said. "They've been training all fall, they've been doing their off-season conditioning, let's not think we'll start in January, middle of January, or February. Let's get off to a fast start, let's start the season at a high level, and then take it higher."

To help prepare for that high level, the coaches have been pushing the athletes a bit harder in their early season workouts compared with seasons past.

Sowinski said his group of 800 runners was performing workouts in September that they did in January last season.

The coaches and athletes all hope this intrasquad meet will prepare them for the upcoming season. Wieczorek and Sayon both referred to it as a "springboard" to the indoor season.

"Just putting on the Iowa uniform again gives guys the extra push to compete against other guys and earn your spot," Sowinski said.

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