The Wolff of track street


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After battling injuries through- out much of his time as a Hawkeye, Iowa track and field junior Mitch Wolff is healthy and running like a man possessed.

Wolff was a short distance, high hur- dler for nearly nine years before Direc- tor of Track and Field Joey Woody made the decision to move him strictly to the 400-meter hurdles.

"We were training him as a high hurdler and a 400 hurdler, but the only time he would get hurt was
when he was train-ing or competing in the high hurdles," Woody said. "I made the decision last year
going into the outdoor season and said, 'Let's just eliminate the high-hurdle work, and let's just focus on getting you healthy, getting you strong, and preparing you for the 400 hurdles.' "

Because he had an internship in the weight room, Wolff was able to continue his work with strength trainers last summer.

"He pretty much lived in the weight room," Woody said. "He got really strong, and now, he's really taken himself to a whole new level."

Woody sees track as a sport in which the three months during summer can either make or break an athlete.

"You have three months there where you can ei- ther make huge strides going forward, or you can take huge strides back- ward," the director said. "Mitch decided to take huge strides forward, and it's really paying off now."

Although Woody praised Wolff for the hard work he put in over those three months, the runner said he as doing what anyone else would have done. Rather than seeing it as work, he enjoyed his time spent lifting and running on the track.

His hard work has paid off. The Plainfield, Illi- nois, native took first in the men's 600 in Ames on Jan. 24. Wolff also has a tight grasp on the first leg of the men's 1,600-meter relay, which he led to vic- tory at the same meet.

That spot in the relay givesWolffevenmoredrive to continue to train as he has. As a junior at Plain- field South High School, Wolff was a part of the Illinois 3A state champi- onship 4x400 relay team. He said being in the same event at Iowa is "a dream."

"The 4x4 is the last event, and it feels like everyone is cheering for you.Toleadthatoffisa great honor," Wolff said. "Our team is so deep in the 400 that anyone on our team could step up and be a part of it, so I'm just so excited."

Middle-distance and men's relays coach Jason Wakenight hopes Wolff 's indoor events will ben- efit the athlete for the 400-meter hurdles once the outdoor season begins.

Wakenight said he can easily see Wolff being a finalist at the Big Ten outdoor championship in the hurdles, and it would not surprise him if Wolff challenges to win.

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

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