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Hawkeye track's Davey bouncing back from injury

BY ELDON GIANNAKOUROS | FEBRUARY 14, 2012 6:30 AM

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The end of Iowa men's track runner Brennan Davey's senior year of high school should have been a victory lap.

The young athlete had won a state title his junior year at Indianola (Iowa) High, propelled his 4x800 team to victory in the Drake Relays during the first half of his senior season, and signed a letter of intent to compete with the 2011 Big Ten champion Hawkeyes.

Instead, it became a long and disappointing wait.

A hamstring injury forced him to miss the state meet and spend the summer before college in recovery.

"Brennan's a guy who was injured his senior year, but as a junior in Iowa, he was already a blue-chip guy," Iowa coach Larry Wieczorek said. "He didn't quite have the senior year he would've had if he hadn't strained a hamstring, and that kind of hobbled him his senior year."

The layoff created some anxiety for Davey, adding the possibility of rust to what would already have been a stressful début among high-level competition. Davey had been a dominant two-sport athlete throughout high school — he was named an all-state middle-distance runner twice, and he also played football — and wasn't used to finding himself in the middle of the pack.

"I'd never really experienced running against guys who were better than me. In high school you're a big fish, but here, you're just a normal kid," Davey said. "I knew I could compete — but not win every race, like I was used to in high school."

He didn't have a lot of time to rediscover his stride while working through a jam-packed indoor schedule. But as the first half of his inaugural season with the Black and Gold comes to a close, Davey has made a name for himself among his teammates.

"He's a definite competitor; he goes out there and he competes, and he's always trying to move his spot up," senior Jeff Herron said.

Davey's strongest performance this season came at the Adidas Invitational on Jan. 21; Davey was part of a 1,600-meter relay team that was tenths of a second away from knocking off then-No. 5 Nebraska.

"That was pretty cool; it was my first big meet ever in college," Davey said, "It was a great atmosphere, and it was great to be on that 4-by-4 and be so close [to topping the Cornhuskers]."

Sharing the relay with senior team captain Erik Sowinski — who, Davey said, has been his role model since he started training with the Hawkeyes in September — was another major highlight of the meet, he said.

It wasn't the first time the two had shared a track. Sowinski anchored the 1,600-meter relay team that earned the Black and Gold a Drake Relays title on the same night that Davey helped capture the 4x800 championship for Indianola High.

"[Sowinski is] an All-American, and he runs the same type of events I do; hopefully, by my senior year, I can be an All-American and Big Ten champion, too," Davey said.

Davey notched another portfolio performance last weekend by taking fifth place in the 800 meters at the Iowa State Classic in Ames. Two of the remaining top five slots belonged to teammates Keaton Rickels and Ryan Weir; the freshman finished within 1 second of the two juniors.

Although he missed some of the best moments of his senior year in high school, Davey is putting in the work to ensure his tenure as a college athlete won't be nearly as forgettable.

"He's a competitor in practice and meets; he's the kind of guy we want on the team," Sowinski said. "He's pushing guys in practice, guys in practice are pushing him, and they're making each other better."


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