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Men's track and field claims two victories

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

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With the Big Ten championships less than a week away, four Iowa tracksters gained confidence and momentum with personal best marks on May 6.

Facing lesser competition — Coe College, Iowa Western, and Northern Iowa competed against Iowa — the Hawkeyes placed no worse than fourth in all six of the events the squad entered.

Keaton Rickels and Patrick Richards set personal best times en route to first-place finishes at the Messersmith Invitational in Cedar Falls.

Rickels won the 400-meter hurdles in 53 seconds, more than one and a half seconds ahead of second place.

The sophomore cut a step out of his stride through the first three hurdles, taking 14 instead of 15. The result shaved .09 second from his previous personal best.

"Anytime you can run a personal best, it's going to give you more confidence," he said. "It's always important to be at your best this time of year."

Rickels said he felt comfortable with the new pace. Given the windy conditions on May 6, he said he should post a faster time this weekend at the Big Ten championships.

The Hawkeyes should also feel more comfortable heading forward after Richards' performance at Northern Iowa.

The junior sprinter competed for the first time in two weeks after being held out of the Drake Relays two weekends ago with a hamstring injury.

Richards won the 200 meters in 21.38 seconds, .06 second faster than his previous personal best. He also placed second in the 400 meters with a time of 48.28 seconds.

"I'm fine now," Richards said. "I was a little nervous heading in but after I ran the 400, I knew I could bust a good time in the 200. I was pretty excited [about the personal best]. It just means I can run a lot faster at the Big Tens."

Senior Zeke Sayon and freshman Tevin Mincy also put up career-best marks in the 200 meters.

Sayon placed second, crossing the finish line in 21.61 seconds. Mincy was close behind, finishing in fourth place with a time of 21.78 seconds.

Iowa sent a small number of athletes to Cedar Falls, choosing to rest the majority of the team a week before the conference championships. Freshman Nathan Prom and junior Nick Brayton were the only other Hawkeyes who competed.

Prom ran the 800 meters in 1:53.72, good for second.

Iowa got a third-place finish from Brayton in the discus, whose best throw sailed 163 feet, 1 inch. It was a familiar distance for the Iowa City native, whose best throws the past three weekends have landed in the low 160-feet area.

"It's really frustrating when you don't make that next jump," Brayton said.

During practice on Sunday, he worked on altering the trajectory of his throwing motion, "chasing" the discus and flattening his release.

"It's one of those things where one little change can change a lot of other things," he said. "I guess I'd rather have my best throws at Big Tens."


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