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Sophomore class pushes upperclassmen to improve

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | JANUARY 21, 2015 5:00 AM

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Although the Hawkeyes are only one meet into the track and field season, the sophomore class has started to show what it can do.

Four sophomores took home titles Jan. 10, including Aaron Mallett in the 60-meter hurdles, Alana Jones in the 3,000 meters, Alexa Hunt in the shot put, and Alexis Hernandez as part of the 1,600 meter relay.

“This is what we were hoping and expecting,” director of track and field Joey Woody said. “The kids who were freshmen last year really finished the year on a high note.”

While the sophomore class shone, upperclassmen were not as prominent at the Border Battle.

A junior or senior won only two events — Gabe Hull took home first in the shot put, and MonTayla Holder captured a victory in the 600 meters as well as running anchor in the 1,600-meter relay.

Although the upperclassmen didn’t finish on top, certain Hawkeyes — both coaches and athletes — were encouraged by the competition in the squad, saying that is something they can take advantage of.

“They came in, dominated their freshman year, and now they’re setting the tone to do it all over again.” Holder said. “They made us think of ourselves as winners and changed our mindsets. We’re a totally different team because of their class.”

Competition is what the sophomore class brings, Holder said. Like Holder said, Elexis Guster has two Big Ten titles under her belt in the 400 and 4x100-meter relay. Although nursing an injury, Brittany Brown was also member of the 4x100-meter relay last season and took bronze in the conference 200-meter championship.

“Their coming in and just winning the way they did [last year], it really pushed my class and the class before me,” Holder said. “It showed the upperclassmen that they really needed to step up because they’re pulling along our team, and we need to help them out as well.”

Coming into their first season for Iowa last year, the group changed the dynamic of the team. The young athletes, especially on the women’s side, have boosted the confidence of everyone.

Having a class that consistently scored points for the team last year transfer their success to the new season is encouraging for coaches.

“When you have someone producing at a high level early on, it makes it a little easier to plan ahead knowing you have a few spots on your team solidified,” Wakenight said. “It’s great knowing that moving forward you have a couple people you can count on and not just for a season.”

Woody also likes seeing the sophomores continue to step up and be leaders for the team.

“To see them kind of take that next step to become more of leaders on the track and step up their performances now, those are the athletes that we’re really counting on,” the first year head coach said. “It just shows what we were hoping for and expecting this year.”

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


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