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Tracksters talk recruiting

BY MARIO WILLIAMS | DECEMBER 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody had five characteristics in describing what he looks for in athletes during the recruiting process.

“They have to be the right fit, they have to have good character, good focus on their academics, athletic ability, and they have to want to be a Hawkeye,” Woody said.

The director has surely established that spark in the athletes that are now apart of the program. This year’s recruiting class has a combination of distance runners, sprinters, throwers, jumpers, and pole vaulters that come from all over the country.

“There’s a reason we brought every one of our freshman into the program,” Woody said. “We feel like they can help us in some fashion.

“We want people that make our entire program better from the inside out.”

While recruiting, the director and his assistant coaches like to focus their attention on what events need to be addressed. Woody ultimately makes the final decision on who they will bring into the program.

As a recruiting coordinator, Jason Wakenight likes to take a more competitive approach. Wakenight charts out a plan and a direction on where the coaches want to go in each event group for the season. The recruiting coordinator enjoys assessing which events are weak and strong in the Big Ten, and how the team contests against some of those oppositions.

Wakenight believes the coaching staff has no borders when it comes to the type of athlete it recruits.

“We’ve signed kids from all over the country,” he said. “For us its more of looking for the right person who is going to come in and be tough, and be apart of a team championship.”

Searching outside the country has also brought some talent to the program. Jahisha Thomas, a native of London didn’t have an official visit but was sold based on what the coaches informed her on.

“I heard about the program and how I would be able to balance long jump and hurdles,” she said. “That was the biggest part for me because back home I didn’t feel like I got the same balance.”

Last weekend, the freshmen, including Thomas, got their first experience to compete on the track at the Black and Gold Intrasquad meet. The coaches found their performance level to be quite imposing, while competing against fierce competition — their teammates.

With this, Thomas caught the coach's eyes.

“She was fantastic and she’s been a great addition to our team,” Wakenight said. “Not just from an athletic standpoint, but as a person.”

The London native won the 60-meter dash, crossing the line at 7.93 — and that isn’t her signature event. By trade, Thomas is a hurdler but also competes in the long jump.

“Every time she steps on the track she’s getting better with her speed,” Woody said. “Anytime she runs the open 60, it’s going to help her in the 60 hurdles.”

Her coaches believe strictly sprinting is going to help her hurdling this year, so they challenged her to become a sprinter for this indoor season.

“Challenging her to become a good sprinter and not just a hurdler has been really helpful for her,” Wakenight said.

Thomas has found being apart of the Hawkeye family rewarding, but difficult when it comes to training.

“I’m not used to running against fast people everyday,” she said. “But training with these girls at a high level helps me raise my game.”

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


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