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Track and field narrowing focus

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | JANUARY 29, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa track and field team is only two meets into the indoor season, but things are starting to fall into place.

Numerous Hawkeyes earned top honors in 17 separate events in January, including two victories in the women’s 1,600-meter relay.

As Iowa heads into the second leg of its indoor season, starting Feb. 6 at Nebraska, the coaches are beginning to narrow down which athlete will compete in each event.

“You’ve got your high-quality athletes, so now we can start putting them into events that they’re used to running in order to kind of see where we’re at with them as we head to the [Indoor] Big Ten championships,” director of track and field Joey Woody said.  

Women’s 600-meter: MonTayla Holder

Holder has placed first in both the 600 and the 800 in January. The 800 was the first of her career, but she hopes the extra distance will ease the difficulty of the 600.

“I ran the 800 to make the 600 feel easier,” the junior said. “It felt like death, but I’m glad I did it.”

Heading toward February though, the plan is to keep her in the 600.

Holder’s time of 1:31.72 is tied for 10th in the NCAA and ranks first in the Big Ten.

“MonTayla will run the 600 again, so we’re going to get her into that race so that she is ready to put up an even better performance,” Woody said.

Men’s 60-meter hurdles: Keith Brown

Although he could not carry the time to the final round, Brown recorded a personal best in the 60-meter hurdles on Jan. 24. His time of 8.03 in the preliminary round bumped him up to seventh on Iowa’s all-time list.

The senior ultimately finished third in the event, but he has continued to consistently lower his time in the hurdles, and Woody hopes that he will make an impact for the team down the stretch. 

Women’s 60-meter dash: Lake Kwaza

With her 7.42 first place finish at the Big Four Duals, Kwaza was just 0.01 from tying her school record that she put up last year at the same meet.

Before Kwaza posted the 7.41 in 2014, no one had touched the record in 31 years.

Kwaza’s time ranks 30th nationally, second in the Big Ten, sitting only 0.03 of a second behind Devynne Charlton of Purdue.

Men’s high jump: Kevin Spejcher

Iowa’s recent trip to Ames was good to Spejcher. The junior jumped an indoor personal best of 7-feet-0.5-inches (2.15 meters) to take second at the meet. It was only the third time in Spejcher’s life jumping more than 7 feet.

“He’s one centimeter away right now from qualifying for the NCAA meet, one place and one centimeter,” multievents coach Molly Jones said.

Spejcher’s jump placed him in a 12-way tie for 17th nationally.

“He would be the biggest one to watch right now because he’s the closest on the team to qualifying for the NCAAs,” Jones said. “He’s still got a lot more left in the tank.”

Women’s 1,600-meter relay: unknown

The Hawkeye women have placed first in the 1,600-meter relay in each of the meets thus far, but the lineup has not been consistent.

When Iowa won the event Jan. 10, Alexis Hernandez, Kwaza, Adrianne Alexia, and Holder were the ones taking home the gold. On Jan. 24, though, it was Elexis Guster, Mahnee Watts, Holder, and Kwaza.

The latter team’s time ranks 21st in the nation, fourth in the Big Ten.

“The more depth you can have, the more people you can have who think they deserve a spot is good for a relay,” assistant coach Jason Wakenight said. “I think the competition within the team is healthy and important.

“The best relays I’ve ever had have never only had four good kids; there’s always been a fifth and a sixth kid challenging to try to get on the relay.”

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


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