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Men's track ready for No. 1 Razorbacks

BY ELDON GIANNAKOUROS | JANUARY 27, 2012 7:20 AM

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After rewriting the Iowa record book with a series of strong individual performance against No. 5 Nebraska last week, the Hawkeye men's track and field team will try to levy a few more breakout performances against the top-ranked team in the nation today and Saturday.

The Hawkeyes will spend the weekend at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., where they will face off with such national powerhouses as No. 1 Arkansas, No. 4 Florida State, and No. 5 Texas.

But despite the presence of power players, Iowa head coach Larry Wieczorek believes his squad has plenty of reasons to remain optimistic this weekend.

"I'm very excited about it; last year, it was a terrific meet for us, and we're going to see a lot of great teams down there," he said. "It's going to be a good challenge for us and hopefully, an opportunity to step up even further."

Team captain Erik Sowinski said the depth of the Hawkeye roster may help the team stay competitive against Arkansas.

"We've got the same caliber of guys that they do," he said. "Obviously, they're going to be stronger in some events than we are, but I think overall, we'll match up pretty well."

Team scores won't be kept at Fayetteville, and top finishes at the Razorback Invitational won't contribute to a team berth at the NCAA indoors, so the Black and Gold will take an approach somewhat different from their strategy at last week's scored contest in Nebraska. Wieczorek will use the meet as an opportunity to rest top runners Jeff Thode and Jordan Mullen for a key meet at Notre Dame later this month and as a chance to qualify some runners individually for the NCAA meet.

Wieczorek said he's hoping Sowinski and Troy Doris — both coming off successful outings at the Adidas Invitational last week — will be able to feed off the competition at Arkansas and run their way to nationals.

"[Sowinski] was an NCAA qualifier and placer last year," Wieczorek said. "He broke the school record in the 600 meter and ran great on the 4x400 relay team at Nebraska, so he looks like a guy who's ready to challenge the NCAA qualifying marks. Troy ran the best sprint of his life last week, and he's an NCAA placer, so he's also a guy I think would be able to go down there and qualify."

Doris ran the fourth-fastest 60-meter dash in school history last week, and though he'll be facing heftier competition in Fayetteville, he said he feels he has the tools to find his way back to the national meet.

"I wouldn't say I'm too worried about it; as long as I trust myself and trust my technique, I think I'll be fine," he said. "I really try not to focus on who's out there. I know what I'm capable of, and I know I'm pretty fast. I'm not going to be intimidated by the guys at Arkansas."


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