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Track coaches focus on individuals

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | DECEMBER 04, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa track and field team has 99 student-athletes on its roster. That is 99 faces — not to mention those redshirted ­— competing in more than 30 different events that need individualized attention in order to be successful.

In order to keep an eye on everyone, six coaches — director of track and field Joey Woody, along with head coach Layne Anderson, associate head coach Clive Roberts, and assistants Molly Jones, Jason Wakenight, and Andrew Dubs — have split responsibilities when it comes to the student-athletes.

Understandably, events are split among coaches in relevance to each other. Anderson manages distance. Roberts takes care of women’s sprints, hurdles, and relays as well as horizontal jumps.

Jones does pole vault, high jump, heptathlon, and decathlon. Wakenight watches over middle distance and men’s sprints, long sprints, and relays. Dubs supervises the throws, and Woody, along with overseeing the whole program, handles men’s sprints and hurdles.

Each coach managing numerous event groups can be difficult — Woody said he is still trying to figure out how to handle all the responsibilities of the top dog — but all said they do what they can in order to make sure their Hawkeyes get the individual attention they need.

“They need our undivided individualized attention,” Dubs said. “We do what we can to give them that.”

In order to do so, the coaches split each of their groups into related events.

“With my event groups, we’ll have the high hurdlers come in at a different time from my short sprint group,” said Woody. “It just allows for a little bit more individualized training and allows us more time for focusing on those athletes.”

Jones splits her groups by having different practice times for high jump and pole vault and working with those participating in the heptathlon and decathlon on opposite days.

“The jump days [for heptathlon and decathlon athletes] are on opposite days from my high jumpers and pole vaulters,” Jones said. “For me, it’s really important to work technical stuff for them so they don’t make bad habits without me watching.”

Typically, there are two jump days a week for Jones’s group. On those days, they warm up, do their jumps, and end with a workout.

“On the other days, it’s kind of getting them ready for their jump days so that their jump days are quality days. We do some speed work, plyometrics, things like that,” Jones said. “Everything else is accessory to help us develop those jump days.”

Recently, Roberts has narrowed down practice to focusing a large amount of time on block starts for his sprinters and hurdlers. Along with that, his Hawkeyes have continued to work on conditioning to gain speed.

For his throwers, Dubs creates a workout every week tailored to each of their specific needs. He said this allows him to know his student-athletes even more and helps them to be the best they can be. 

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Not everyone is the same, so I like to create a specific workout for each person every week,” Dubs said.

That is not to say there is no team aspect for the Hawkeyes, because many things are still done as a group. Jones’ athletes often spend recovery days together in the pool, while Dubs’ throwers lift all together.

Wakenight likes to have his groups practice together. Instead of splitting them into different time slots, he alternates rest times in order to give the athletes the attention they need individually.

“We all practice at the same time; I think it’s a really nice, diverse mix,” he said. “We all work out at the same time, and I manage all their groups at the same time. When we warm up, we go through some of the same pre-workout rituals, and they get to interact a lot, which is a cool thing.”

Follow @cbomb12 on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa track and field team.


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