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Iowa track gets ready to run under the lights

BY MATT CABEL | APRIL 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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The wet artificial turf of Kinnick stadium won’t be see the dark of night this weekend. Nor will Carver-Hawkeye Arena see its parquet floor illuminated for competition. There will be light. It might just come in an unexpected place.

The Cretzmeyer Track will have its eight lanes lit up Saturday night as dusk turns to twilight for the Musco Twilight — Iowa track and field’s annual nighttime meet. Musco, the lone home meet for the program this season, creates a prime-time feel for the coaches, athletes, and spectators. “We always get a little more energetic running under the Musco lights,” junior Tevin-Cee Mincy said.

The meet, in its 14th year, earns its name from Musco Lighting, a company based in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Musco provides nighttime lighting for Iowa football games and events worldwide, including the Super Bowl and Olympics. “The wind dies down, and you get better conditions in the evening,” Director of Track and Field and men’s head coach Larry Wieczorek said. “It creates a magical environment if all things come together.”

Running under the lights gives the meet a unique circumstance and environment. Wieczorek and the athletes said they think that performing under the lights ramps up the environment and creates a feeling not normally associated with afternoon track meets. “The night atmosphere give us a different look” senior Jordan Mullen said. “We’re all used to running during the day, and it gives us a time where we can get out and show off to the home crowd. We can bring them out at night, give them some exciting track and field to watch.”

But the Musco Twilight is more to Wieczorek than events, times and the competition. He likes to think of it as a spectacle: He wants to show off the athletes from his program, prove that track and field can be a spectator sport. In the past, Wieczorek has included fireworks to make the event even more of an event, but Wieczorek said it’s out of the budget for this year. “I’m over budget, so I said that I better not get the fireworks,” Wieczorek said. “So I’m appealing to our student-athletes to create the fireworks on the track and field.”

Lights or not, it’s also the home track for the program, and the Hawkeyes are quite protective of it. “This is our stomping ground,” Mincy said. “At our home meet, we are not supposed to lose — we’re not going to lose. We’re going to put on a show for our fans and crowd, showing them that we’re the stars of this meet. We represent Iowa our way.”

Mullen compared the meet to the excitement of a Friday night high-school football game, and he associates the meet with his own memories of high-school track. “I don’t think there’s a kid who played football that didn’t look forward to playing under Friday night lights,” he said. “Obviously, [Musco Twilight] isn’t on Friday, it’s a Saturday … but I think that Musco is a great meet for Iowa track and field athletes. The atmosphere levels are always higher when you’re at home, but it’s just fun to run under the lights.”


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