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Struggling Hawks look to turn season around

BY JORDAN HANSEN | APRIL 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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As Iowa heads to the Mt. SAC Relays this weekend, the general consensus is that the next three weeks will determine how the Hawks’ season will be viewed.

The past couple weeks have not been kind to Hawkeyes — they have struggled in their last three meets, most noticeably in last weekend’s disappointing third-place finish at the Illinois Twilight meet.

That performance and the general dissatisfaction the coaches have had with certain performances culminated in a team meeting on Tuesday.

“As a boys’ team, we’re kind of struggling right now,” sophomore James Harrington said. “We’re going to try to use Mt. SAC as a turning point for the rest of the season and to really start doing some big things and running some big times.”

The atmosphere surrounding the team is vaguely positive, but the undertones are definitely on the critical side as the season is rapidly moving toward its close.

Assistant coach Clive Roberts, never one to mince his words, didn’t hold back on his assessment of the team.

“They have to grow up and start being men; we’ve got a lot of people on this team right now who aren’t focusing on the things they are supposed to be focusing on,” Roberts said. “We’ve got the talent, but we’ve got to get some of these young athletes to figure it out pretty quick.”

On a team that features 33 underclassmen, with many in prominent roles, a loss of focus by some of the younger athletes does not bode well for the overall well-being of the team.

Track is basically two separate seasons — indoor and outdoor — and over the course of time, loss of focus isn’t out of the norm. However, what prevents a talented team from becoming great is the lack of the ability to refocus when things matter most.

To delve into this subject, Roberts is absolutely correct — Iowa does have the talent to compete with some of the best; it’s just a matter of whether the Hawkeyes can get the most out of that talent.

Despite his harsh words, Roberts has the utmost faith that the team can turn the ship around.

“These young men and these older men just need to step their game up; they need to start being men and stop being little boys,” Roberts said. “The sky’s the limit; we work hard to attract the best athletes to the University of Iowa, and we’ve done that.

“We’ll figure it out.”

Once the coaches and athletes get things in order, the ball could really start rolling for the Hawkeyes. It’s much too early to throw this season away and the ultimate goal remains a good finish at the Big Ten meet, or that’s at least how junior Gabe Hull feels.

“Coach [Larry Wieczorek] has a saying, ‘Be Happy in May,’ and I’m using these meets as steppingstones,” he said. “Each one is important, but you’re working toward a bigger goal.”


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