Hawkeye trackster Davis reining in intensity for one chance

BY DAN DAVIS | MAY 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa's Dan Davis took a roundabout way of competing for his hometown team, and he now has just one chance to make a name for himself in the Big Ten.

The senior was raised in Iowa City and graduated from West High in 2008. But the 2008 4A state champ in the 110-meter hurdles decided not to stay home and run for the Black and Gold.

Davis, a mechanical engineering major, chose to attend Washington-St. Louis on the basis of academics. But competing at the Division-III level was trying at times for him, he said.

"Division-III provided its own challenges — a lot of learning how to deal with things on your own and becoming your own athlete," he said. "I didn't have a sprints or hurdles coach down there, so it was just me and the hurdles crew coaching ourselves."

Davis began to wonder what he could do with the benefits of having an event coach and a focused weight-training program and made the decision to return home. He has since stepped in for the Hawkeyes and given the hurdle group an immediate boost with several top-10 times between the 60- and 110-meter hurdles.

He has also brought a new dynamic to the group.

Davis can sometimes be seen pounding his thighs and snarling as he steps to the starting blocks. It's an intensity that assistant coach Joey Woody said has to be reined in at times.

"He's intense, but he's almost intense to a fault," Woody said. "He gets a little too hyped up and loses a little bit of control. The hurdles are a fast, aggressive race — but it's a controlled race and a controlled rhythm. He gets excited and jacked up — which is a good thing, but you have to be able to control it, internalize it, and use it in your race versus letting it work against you."

Head coach Larry Wieczorek said Davis also brings a strong hunger for success that not everyone else has, and that has a strong effect on the environment. Wieczorek said he continually tries to improve the environment for his team, and the best way to do that is with the right people.
Davis does that, he said.

"The race doesn't always go to the swift, it goes to the driven — to the person who's hungry, has the drive and the 'want to,' " Wieczorek said. "Dan's a driven guy. He was already an accomplished hurdler, but he has gone to a whole other level and is still hungry to improve."

Wieczorek said Davis may have feared having regrets by not testing himself at the highest level, a fear that eventually caused him to transfer. He said Davis also seems to have a sense of urgency, like he's pushing to make the most of his opportunity at the Division-I level.

Davis said he tries not to focus on that, though.

"It's hard not to look at the calendar and say 'Well, I've got this many meets left. I've got to get what I want to get done by this time,' " he said. "But that's what you've got to do. You've got to shut all that out of your mind and take each meet one at a time. Stay focused on the now, instead of what's coming up next weekend or the weekend after that."

But junior Ethan Holmes said the proverbial hourglass isn't lost on his teammate.

"The other day, we were talking about getting under 14 [seconds] in the high [hurdles], and I said 'You've just got to be patient, man. It'll come at the right time.'

"And he said, 'I'm running out of time.' "

Follow DI men's track reporter Tork Mason on Twitter.

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