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Small numbers both bad and good for Hawkeyes

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | JANUARY 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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Out of a roster of 94 people, four athletes — one male and three female — are listed as high jumpers, while just one is listed as a pole-vaulter on the women’s side.

Although the small number of athletes can provide such advantages as individualized training, it also presents challenges recruiting and missing out on team points at meets.

Sure, high jump and pole vault are only two events out of many that take place at a track meet, but not having enough athletes to compete in each can hurt the Hawkeyes in scoring.

“If we can score two people, and I don’t have two people, then that will affect us,” multi-events coach Molly Jones said. “We’re missing out on a minimum of 3 points [per] meet in duals.”

Because high jump and pole vault are specialty events, sometimes finding elite level athletes in those areas is difficult. Pole vault is especially challenging for Iowa recruiters, because the event is not available to athletes attending Iowa high schools.

Building a strong pole-vault program is a work in progress, Jones said.

“Pole vault is going to be a tossup, whether or not we’ll get more pole-vaulters,” Jones said. “It’s hard right now to have a pole-vault program and get a really good pole-vaulter in on a scholarship when you don’t have any other pole-vaulters for them to train with, so we’re going to have to start from scratch and work up that way.”

For now, however, the Hawkeyes are doing the best they can with the low numbers. The coaches are looking toward the future and getting more specialty athletes, especially high jumpers, into the program.

Jones has snagged one recruit for the 2015-16 season, and she continues to work on another one.

“If we can get at least one more this year and maybe one or two next year, then we’ll be set because Kevin [Spejcher] will be leaving then,” Jones said.

Spejcher, the lone high jumper on the men’s side, said that while the individualized training is important, things still get a bit lonely when there is no one else to train with.

The junior also believes that having additional athletes would create a more competitive atmosphere.

“[If there were more guys], I’d have people to be competing against in practice. It would make me fight more,” Spejcher said. “If we had a bigger team, it would create a more competitive atmosphere where more people are competing to be the best.

As mentioned above, while the Hawkeyes still have small numbers, the coaches are able to focus on individualized attention and creating quality athletes.

“We’ve been able to put a lot more emphasis on the quality of those events and make sure that we have the right athletes in those event areas,” director of track and field Joey Woody said.

Having a smaller group of athletes has also allowed Jones to put extra time and effort into coaching them.

“The beauty of having so few athletes in each event is that I have a lot more time to make those athletes a lot better,” she said. “If I had 15 athletes, I would not have nearly as much time to work with them individually as I do now. It’s actually a good situation because I can make the current athletes that I do have a lot better.”

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


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