Iowa sprinter James Harrington has had quite the journey


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James Harrington is no Dorothy, but their respective stories played out much the same way.

For Harrington, his recruiting process was a whirlwind comparable to a Kansas twister. The native of Cedar Falls said he had a choice of offers among football, track, and basketball, and he chose to run for Alabama.

“I went down [to Alabama] on my official visit, and I loved the campus. … They’re getting a new track and new facilities that looked really cool,” he said. “I was just excited about what the coaches said and where the program was going to be at in a few years.”

However, once in Alabama, he found that the fit wasn’t quite perfect — he wasn’t quite in Iowa anymore.

“Growing up, I was so used to having my family at all of my meets and just living so far away, they weren’t able to come, and I kind of missed that,” Harrington said. “I wanted to get back to where they could come and support me and where I could see them more.”

The decision wasn’t simple, but an old family friend and current Iowa assistant track coach, Joey Woody, helped James find his way back to the Hawkeye State.

“I recruited James out of high school and I’ve known him since he was a baby — I actually went to college with his parents,” Woody said. “I understand he was looking at the SEC level and trying to compete at that level, and when he got there he had some success, but it just probably wasn’t the right fit for him.

“I was happy that they decided to contact us and we got the release to talk to him.”

Lucky for Harrington, the transfer process was not overly complicated. As a freshman, he competed in several meets for the Tide but did not have to redshirt this year because he transferred from the SEC.

Once Woody chatted with him, it wasn’t too long before he transferred to Iowa — a move that pays dividends for both Harrington and the program.

He has found his place in the 200 meter; at last weekend’s Husker Invitational, he ran the fourth fastest mark in school history, a blazing 21.21 seconds. In addition, he’s also part of this year’s 4x400 relay team.

“I didn’t run any 4x4s or 400s last year; I never really liked the event, but now I’m starting to like it a lot more,” Harrington said. “The season is going really good.”

The good sentiment reverberates throughout the rest of the team as well, especially in senior Ethan Holmes, who anchors the 4x400.

“It’s always a great addition to add someone like James,” Holmes said. “He’s fast coming in, and he was fast in high school, and I think with the coaching here, he’s going to benefit.”

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