Iowa's Doris, Sowinski set to compete in NCAAs

BY CODY GOODWIN | MARCH 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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The captains of the Iowa men's track and field team worked all season to exceed their own expectations. They've been determined, and the results prove it; Erik Sowinski and Troy Doris are the only two Hawkeyes who will compete this weekend in the NCAA indoor track and field championships.

Sowinski, a Big Ten champion this year, will compete in the 800 meters in Nampa, Idaho. His preliminary rounds take place on Friday evening. If he qualifies for the finals, the senior will run again on Saturday night.

Doris, who has won the conference meet twice, will triple jump on Saturday at the Jacksons Indoor Track on the campus of Boise State.

Sowinski said he and Doris would have liked to see more teammates qualify for the national meet, but that it's still "pretty cool" that both of them got the opportunity to go.

"At the beginning of the year, we thought maybe we would have a chance to be one of the top five teams in the country," Iowa's 800 meter indoor record-holder said. "Obviously, that didn't happen. But it's still exciting that it's the two of us, because we're pretty close."

The duo's success is the result of each captain pushing the other. Each has gotten in the other's face to remind him to keep the hustle and pursuit of excellence.

That type of motivation, Doris said, has gotten each to where he is today.

"We both have the same expectations, and that's why we get along so well," Doris said. "We're both level-headed, and we don't try to get ahead of ourselves. We both know what we both want, and that's the best thing we have for each other."

Both athletes want to succeed — and their chances this weekend look brighter than ever.

Five of the 15 finalists running in the 800-meter preliminaries hail from the Big Ten. Sowinski enters the NCAAs as the conference champion, adding confidence as he enters the preliminaries this afternoon. The Wisconsin native enters the meet seeded sixth. The seeds are based on each athlete's seasonal best; Sowinski's was set in the preliminary rounds of the Big Ten meet, when he ran 800 meters in 1:47.62 minutes.

While he's not looking for any record-setting performances, Sowinski did express the importance of the preliminary rounds in his event.

"Prelims are always the hardest part," he said. "Once you get passed prelims, anything can happen in the finals … I just want to make it to the finals and try to run a good race there."

Doris enters the meet seeded fourth; his best jump this season sits at 16.28 meters, or 53-5 feet. The senior's all-time personal record is 54-0 feet (16.46 meters). In perspective, the top-seeded triple jumper in the field has a seasonal best of 16.63 meters (54-6 feet).

Doris said he believes anything can happen at a meet of the NCAA's magnitude.

"I have to focus and know what I'm capable of," he said. "I'm not going to worry as much. I'm just going to go and jump."

Both athletes said they're trying to "dumb down the meet," even if it does feature the nation's best under one roof.

And that kind of focus has their coaches believing anything can happen.

"As good as anybody's," assistant coach Joey Woody said, when asked about their chances.
Doris agreed.

"We just have to go out and do it."

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