Men's track and field faces unusual break


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Patrick Richards described his team's current situation as a time of "self-discipline."

Without scheduled practices for the next three weeks, the Iowa men's track and field team finds itself in what may be one of the more unusually demanding stretches of the indoor season.

After competing in the annual intrasquad meet on Dec. 4, the Hawkeye men won't officially start their indoor season until Jan. 8 at the Illinois Open.

Because of final exams, the Hawkeyes have the week off from practice. Next week starts a two-week winter break before the squad returns to Iowa City on Jan. 2. At that point, only five days will separate the athletes from their first meet of the season.

Head coach Larry Wieczorek said sustaining his team's physical conditioning is a main concern at this point in the season. Coming back from break ready to compete is a small part of his high expectations.

"We were in great shape at the intrasquad meet and were real happy with that," he said. "A lot of times, you don't have facilities or other people around you [during break]. You have to be prepared to do something and then get back to Iowa City and get back after it."

Staying in competitive shape will be much easier for some than it will be for other members of the team.

The distance runners will be able to run outside during the break. Sprinters, on the other hand, will need indoor facilities and blocks. Even then, some facilities won't allow spikes on the track.

The coaches will instruct their individual event areas on what workouts need to be done over break.

Assistant coach Joey Woody said the maturity of this year's group should help with staying active over the next couple weeks. Still, the coach in him is a bit concerned.

"You do worry a little bit how they are going to come back," he said. "They put this much effort into it up to this point; [now] they got to connect the dots and realize they can't just stop doing what they're doing."

Richards is a prime example of what the coaches are hoping for. Despite heading home to Colorado for break, the junior sprinter plans on working out with a few friends who run track at other colleges.

"Just because the coach isn't here doesn't mean we ease up on our workouts," Richards said. "If you want to go out and run your best in January, you can't just skip practice."

Wieczorek on DJK

Derrell Johnson-Koulianos' drug-related arrest last week is affecting more than just the football team.

Wieczorek said the star wide receiver's recent incident is the kind of example he uses to stress to his team to put themselves in good situations.

He also noted that it affects recruiting for the track team as well.

"I'm talking to kids about coming to Iowa myself and it's 'What about your football? What's going on in your football program?' " Wieczorek said. "'I don't want to send my son to that kind of environment.' It affects a lot of people."

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