Men's track cautiously optimistic


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Opportunity and improvement were the buzzwords for the Hawkeyes this week as they got set to begin competition in Fayetteville, Ark., for the second time of the season, beginning today.

A smaller contingent will head to California to compete in the Stanford Invitational — freshman Kevin Docherty will join juniors Ben Witt and Kevin Lewis in a long-distance meet. Docherty and Witt will run the 1,500 meters, and Lewis is slated compete in the 5,000.

The rest of the team will head to the Arkansas Spring Invitational, which comes less than a week after the Black and Gold returned from Arizona and a second-place finish at the Arizona State Invitational.

“Our message to the student-athletes was you don’t have a lot of opportunities in the competition season; every opportunity is important,” head coach Layne Anderson said. “This meet is more important than the last, and they just grow in importance.”

This invitational presents a host of challenges for the Hawkeyes, the first being the nine-hour bus ride the team had to endure to get there. Once they reach Fayetteville, a host of incredibly talented teams, including No. 1 Arkansas, will be waiting for a Hawkeye team still looking to get to full strength.

However, there are positives for the Black and Gold as they begin completion today. For starters, the team’s field events are its strength and will be available this weekend after a strong showing in the Arizona State meet. Several sprinters are also coming off good meets, including junior Kaleb VanCleave, who is coming off a second-place finish in the 400.

“My splits have been dropping, and I’m feeling good and so is the rest of the team,” VanCleave said. “In the 4x4, we really want to be top in the Big Ten, so that’s what we’re really looking to do — get that time out there now.”

Sprinting has been an up and down affair for Iowa this season because of injuries and performance issues. Senior Tevin-Cee Mincy was fighting injuries coming out of the indoor season, but he is expected to be at full strength. Another setback for the team was a minor undisclosed injury to sophomore transfer James Harrington, but coaches believe that he should be back in roughly a week’s time.

When healthy and on-point, the team feels it can run with just about anybody in the country, but the trick of the matter is getting them there.

Because of nice weather early in the week, the team was able to get outside a bit and work on some of those issues. This has led to some cautious optimism from assistant coach Joey Woody for the upcoming weeks.

“The hurdlers were a bit off on their rhythm, and fortunately, we were able to get outside and work on the 400 hurdles, so I’m excited to see that,” Woody said. “We also kind of let off on some of the workouts to freshen up their legs a little bit, especially with the 800 and 400 guys.

“I think we’re going to see some good performances out of that group.”

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