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Two Hawkeye tracksters get shot at redemption

BY BEN SCHUFF | JUNE 23, 2011 7:20 AM

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A brief exchange between track assistant coach Joey Woody and hurdler D’Juan Richardson on Monday said more than any answer Woody gave about Richardson’s performance at the West Regional in late May.

When asked about the junior’s 53.85 finish in the 400 hurdles on May 26 — his worst time of the year — Woody looked at Richardson, who was standing nearby.

“Um,” Woody said in a drawn-out manner. “What should I say, D’Juan, about your West Regional performance?”

Richardson laughed.

“You say whatever you need to say,” he said. “We both feel the same way.”

After failing to move past the West Regional, Richardson had to sit at home while his teammates competed at the NCAA outdoor track and field championships on June 8-11.

This weekend, he has a chance to forget that feeling.

Richardson is one of five Hawkeyes who will compete at the USA championship meet in Eugene, Ore. The meet will start today and run through Saturday.

Richardson and thrower Matt Byers are the only two Iowa athletes who will compete this weekend but didn’t make it to Des Moines and the NCAA semifinals.

“It’s really a shot at redemption, especially considering it’s at the same track where the first round of [NCAAs] was,” Richardson said. “I didn’t compete well [at the West Regional], so going back to Eugene and trying to get it done there again will be really good for me.”

The Indianapolis native’s best time in the 400 hurdles this year was 51.12 seconds. With almost half the field already posting times under 50 seconds this year, he said his main goal will be to run a personal-best time.

He will run in the first round at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Byers will start in the javelin about an hour earlier.
Byers entered the West Regional with a top-10 mark in the country, but he struggled in Eugene.

After his first two throws on May 26 resulted in fouls, his third throw placed him 19th and ended his college season earlier than he preferred.

“I think Matt had some technical errors that, under poor conditions, really got exposed,” throws coach Scott Cappos said. “We need to continue to correct those errors. The technique is not where it needs to be, but when it is, he’ll be as good as anybody in the country.”

The sophomore threw at USAs last year and finished 12th. With several professionals in the field, Byers said he was “a bit shell-shocked” by the other competitors.

This time, he said he’sready for the competition, and he hopes for a top-six finish — and a little something extra for his father, Brian.

“My dad and I had been talking, and he said he didn’t really care what I got him for Father’s Day,” said Byers, whose personal-best throw is 74.89 meters. “He just said he wanted a personal record from me [at this meet]. So that’s my goal — anywhere from 75 meters and above would be really nice.

“That’s what I want, to end the year on a good note. It’d be a nice late Father’s Day gift, too.”


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