All or nothing in Big Ten meet for Hawkeye tracksters


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The Iowa track and field program will get to challenge the best competition in the Big Ten today and Saturday during the Big Ten meets in Geneva, Ohio.

The teams have prepared for this meet all season. Everything the athletes have worked for comes down to this weekend.

“We’re training once we get here [in the summer] until school gets out, and we’re still here training and trying to work at being the best,” female sprinter Lake Kwaza said.

The Hawkeyes are full of confidence coming off  winning 14 titles at last week’s tune-up at the Iowa Invitational.

“We’re definitely confident going into this, and I think the coaches are, too,” senior Ryan Weir said. “I know the coaches have high expectations for us, and hopefully, we can make a national appearance.”

The Big Ten meets will take place at the Spire Institute track and field complex. Men’s track head coach Larry Wieczorek said the venue the thing to which he is most looking forward.

“I’m very excited about the facility we’re going to,” Wieczorek said. “I’m always excited about a Big Ten championship, because that’s what it’s all about.”

The complex has a spectator capacity of 5,000 and has separate areas for track events and field events. The eight-lane 300-meter Beynon track has a radius equivalent to outdoor tracks as opposed to the indoor tracks the team has run on most of the season.

Most eyes will be on seniors Jordan Mullen and Ethan Holmes in the 60-meter hurdles. Mullen has the top time in the Big Ten in the event with a mark of 7.73. Holmes has the fourth-fastest time at 7.83.

Holmes also has a time of 21.19 seconds in the 200 meters, which puts him fourth in the Big Ten. The fastest Big Ten time this year for the event is 21.0 by Dexter McKenzie of Nebraska.

“You can’t control what the other people are doing, obviously,” Holmes said. “It’s all going to come down to who shows up. I think I’m going to run a lot faster on the big track out in Ohio. I’m really excited for what we’re going to bring to the meet.”

The men’s track team will enter near the back of the pack in comparison with other Big Ten teams. The squad is ranked 59th nationally by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association computer rankings. Despite the relatively high national ranking, the Hawkeyes are lowest ranked team in the Big Ten, which features four teams in the top 10 nationally.

The women’s team also goes into Big Tens in the lower end of the conference. The female tracksters enter last in the Big Ten in the computer rankings, and they are ranked outside the nation’s top-100 teams.

“We don’t have people who are ranked high, and their performances haven’t been at a level where they’re going to garner any points,” women’s head coach Layne Anderson said. “It isn’t realistic to go into the conference meet and expect something they’ve not done over the schedule we’ve had.”

The Hawkeyes lone blip on the national radar has been a high jump by Khanishah Williams, who reached 5-11 at the Bill Bergen Invitational on Jan. 24. The mark ranks as the 32nd-best in the country but ranks as the second-best in the Big Ten this season, giving the Hawkeyes one of their best chances to score high in the team standings.

Ashlyn Gulvas’ weight throw of 63-6 feet, an Iowa record, falls just short of the 63-7½ cutoff for a national seed. However, the toss ranks in the top 10 in the Big Ten, providing a chance for another similar performance for some big team points.

Overall, the tracksters are excited to show off what they’ve worked on all season.

“It’s a neutral site and a magnificent facility,” Wieczorek said. “It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be historic.”

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