A shot at redemption for the Iowa track and field team


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It’s all come down to this. All season long, this has been the goal. This has been the event to which athletes look forward — where races are won and lost, where seasons continue into the NCAAs or end.

On the campus of Ohio State University, the Iowa track and field program will head for the track in Jesse Owens Stadium for the Big Ten championships. “We’re supposed to treat every meet like it’s a big meet,” junior Tevin-Cee Mincy said. “But with Big Tens, there’s no holding back. We leave everything on the track. For some of us, there’s not another meet. Big Tens is it.”

The Black and Gold are sending numerous athletes to Columbus who will compete for a spot in the top 48 in the western region and earn a spot in the NCAA regionals. The regionals will begin May 23 in Austin, Texas. For the men, senior javelin thrower Matt Byers could become the first athlete in Iowa history to win a Big Ten title four-straight years in a single event. Senior Ethan Holmes is looking for his first win in the 110-meter hurdles after earning second place the last two years. Justin Austin holds the Big Ten’s top times in the 100- and 200-meter dash at 10.22 and 20.55.

“We already know what we can do, regardless of what other people might think,” Mincy said. “We’re just going to go out there and do it, show everybody what we can do.” The Big Ten Championship will be the first time the track athletes have competed since the Drake Relays in late April, and the team is hungry to compete after having a weekend off, but assistant coach Joey Woody said he believes the team competes at its best following an off-weekend.

“When you come off a performance that’s not as good as you would have hoped, that’ll motivate you to get back at it, train hard,” Woody said. “It woke some guys up, got them saying ‘Hey, there are a lot of guys out there that are trying to beat us — we need to go out there with the mindset that we need to go in there and compete to win.’ ” The women’s team will enter the meet ranked 13th in the region by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association. It will be the Hawks’ first time competing since the Drake Relays on April 25-27.

Head coach Layne Anderson’s squad hopes to have a better showing in Columbus than they did at the indoor Big Ten championships in February, in which they finished in 11th place among 11 teams. The members of the senior class, led by Majesty Tutson in the discus, hope to compete well in their final Big Ten meet as members of the Black and Gold.

“[It will be] more exciting for me just because it’s my last chance to get out there and try to win the gold,” said Tutson, an Iowa City native. She is riding momentum after she finished first in the Drake Relays with a school-record-breaking throw, as is freshman Lake Kwaza, who ran a personal best time of 11.60 at Drake. Kwaza’s time is currently the fifth best in the Big Ten this season.

Assistant coach Clive Roberts has a simple message for his team: fight. “Regardless of what place we end up individually and as a team, I just want to see a team that fights,” the fifth-year Iowa coach said. “I want to see kids running through the line, kids that are trying to get every centimeter they possibly can — that is the message I’m going to give them.”

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