Men’s track making strides

BY BEN SCHUFF | JANUARY 26, 2011 7:10 AM

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Train hard. Believe. Train hard. Believe. Train hard. Believe.

That is the approach Iowa head men’s track and field coach Larry Wieczorek and his squad took heading into and during the first few weeks of the indoor season.

And that approach that is working. The Hawkeyes are buying into themselves.

At this point a year ago, 16 athletes had set 26 personal records in the first few weeks of competition.
This year, after three meets, 18 Hawkeyes have set 31 personal records.

What’s more, three school records fell last weekend in Minneapolis. Steven Willey ran the 600 meters in 1:17.94, Justin Austin finished the 60-meter dash in 6.72 seconds, and Jordan Mullen crushed the previous school record with a time of 7.75 in the 60-meter hurdles.

Six weeks passed last season before Erik Sowinski broke the first school record of the 2010 indoor season with a time of 1:48.90 in the 800.

“[Personal records] are our measuring stick, and it is how individuals measure success,” Wieczorek said. “The more you do, the more you believe.”

Sowinski and fellow captain Zeke Sayon agreed that a more intense training schedule before the season started has set the team up for its progression through the indoor schedule.

An All-American last season, Sowinski feels he is at a better place now than he was at the same point last season.

Last weekend at the Jack Johnson Classic, the junior finished the 600 in 1:18.50. At the Iowa Open a year ago, which was a week before last year’s Jack Johnson Classic, Sowinski posted a time of 1:19.63 in the same event.

For Sayon, smarter training over winter break has helped him out on the track. The senior said he trained more efficiently, giving his body more time to rest and recover while working out.

While Sayon hasn’t set a new personal record yet — he ran a college-best 6.82 60-meter dash at the 2010 Last Chance Qualifier — he feels it is within reach after posting a 6.86 last weekend. The sprinter hopes to be in the 6.7 range by the end of the season.

A little extra work at the end of workouts may be the reason for some runners’ success.

Assistant coach Joey Woody said at the end of a 500, 400, and 300 workout in the fall, the Hawkeyes added on three 150s with two minutes rest in between. The end result was increased endurance.

“People are believing more in themselves,” Woody said. “We believe and expect to do well not only at the Big Ten but national level as well. The way that we train is set up to progress throughout not only the year but also throughout their career.”

But there is a long list of Hawkeyes who aren’t waiting for those results to show up a year from now.

The team’s top sprinter, Justin Austin, shed 0.01 off his 200 meter from his first to second meet of the year. Junior All-American Patrick Richards cut off nearly 0.5 of his 400-meter time after his first two indoor performances.

Should times keep falling, Iowa may very well find itself in a special place at season’s end.

“We’re not No. 1,” Austin said. “And until we’re No. 1, we can’t rest.”

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