Indoor season coming to a close for men’s track and field

BY BEN SCHUFF | MARCH 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa men’s track and field team’s record board inside the Recreation Building may be deceiving. As soon as it is updated, the large board hanging near one end of the track will read like a 2011 season-best performance list instead of an all-time school record board.

And that is just how assistant coach Joey Woody envisioned it at the beginning of the year.

“Honestly, I wrote down 10,” he said in reference to how many school records he thought the team had a shot at the beginning of the year. “We still have another weekend, so who knows what could happen.”

This year’s set of Hawkeyes broke and re-broke school records seemingly every weekend. Nine school records were broke at least once this year in the 60, 200, 600, 800, mile, 3,000, 60-meter hurdles, 4x400 meter relay, and the triple jump.

Adding to that impressive list is the consistency with which the records fell. The squad never had two-consecutive meets in which a school record wasn’t broken.

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“We could probably pick a half-dozen or a dozen moments and say, ‘Boy, I’d like to repeat that,’ ” 15-year head coach Larry Wieczorek said. “Certainly in my coaching career, it’s one of the most special seasons ever.”

A two-week stretch in late January started the attack on the record book. Three marks fell at the Jack Johnson Classic on Jan. 21-22 in Minneapolis. Justin Austin set a new time in the 60-meter dash, and Steven Willey and Jordan Mullen broke records in the 600 meters and the 60-meter hurdles.

The following weekend at the Razorback Invitational in Arkansas, Troy Doris shattered a two-decade old triple jump record with a leap of 54 feet. Joining Doris in the record book that weekend was Erik Sowinski, who broke the 800 meter record for the first of two times. Austin also broke the 60-meter time on the second of three occasions at the meet in Fayetteville, Ark.

The Jan. 28-29 meet was also a coming-out party of sorts for Ethan Holmes. Considered by Wieczorek to now be in the team’s “core group” of performers, Holmes ran his first ever 400 meters in under 48 seconds. The native of Clinton also ran in the 4x400 meter relay for the first time at the Arkansas meet, an event that will compete at the NCAAs this weekend.

“That meet was a major breakthrough,” Holmes said. “It got my confidence built up. It helped me reassure myself that I am capable of running that fast and faster.”

A year ago, that same 4x4 event — ran by Sowinski, Willey, Patrick Richards, and Chris Barton — earned All-American status during the outdoor season. This year, with Holmes now in the mix, the relay continues to be one of the best in the country. Following a first-place finish at the Big Ten meet, Richards, Holmes, Sowinski, and Willey ran a 3:06.66 school record time at the last-chance meet.

“We came off a good outdoor season last year and just built upon that,” Sowinski said. “Being in the top-25 [as a team] shows how far we’ve come in a year, which is a pretty short amount of time.”

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