Troubles arise for Hawkeye relay teams


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DES MOINES — Director of Track and Field Joey Woody has made it clear what he wants his team to be known for ­— great 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams. The Hawkeyes’ weekend at the Drake Relays, however, did not showcase those women’s teams in the way they would have liked.

Last year at the Drake Relays, Iowa captured the women’s 4x100-meter relay. This year, the team was hoping — even expecting — to maintain control of its crown. The Hawkeyes qualified for the finals after they took second in their preliminary heat on the third day of festivities. Women’s sprints coach Clive Roberts even pulled Lake Kwaza and Brittany Brown out of the 100-meter dash final in order to focus on the relay.

Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, the end result was not one the team or coaches were happy with. The quartet of MonTayla Holder, Elexis Guster, Kwaza, and Brown finished third with a time of 45.20, and although they still ended with a top-three finish, they were not satisfied.

Roberts stated that, short and sweet.

“We’ve just got to be better in the 4x1,” he said. “We’ve got to be better, plain and simple.”

Even more disappointing for the Hawkeyes was that the 4x400-meter relay group did not even get the chance to challenge for the title; it was knocked out in the preliminary rounds.

Things have yet to really come together for the event group — its best this season of 3:38.38 at the Florida Relays is 3.5 seconds slower than its best of 2014. Granted, Brown has replaced Alexis Hernandez, but the remaining three members of Holder, Guster, and Kwaza have remained consistent until the team went to Drake, where Kwaza was switched out with freshman Sheridan Champe.

Although Woody noted baton hand-offs as a potential issue with the group at Drake, there may be larger problems in the relay.

“We have a lot of great individual talent, but every time it comes to relays, we do not deliver,” sophomore Guster said. “I feel like we’re not taking it as an, ‘I’m running for her so, I have to go out and run my hardest,’ as opposed to, ‘I’m just going to go out and run this 400 for myself.’ It’s not something that we can’t get, but I’m not sure if everyone has the ‘I’m going to run for my team’ mindset.”

Since the 4x4 is the last event run at every meet, Iowa’s coaches — Woody and Roberts especially — insist upon excellence in the event, which problems in the group are preventing.

“The 4x4 is honestly the most important event for us because it’s the last thing you see. We could have a horrible day, but if the 4x4 does well, you leave feeling pretty good,” Roberts said. “It doesn’t matter what meet we’re at; we have to be a player in the 4x4.”

In order to ensure the wrinkles are smoothed out by the time the Big Ten meet comes around, Guster noted that the first step toward being a better 4x4 is to work as a team.

“There were a lot of people who I thought could have stepped up a little bit more, and it just wasn’t there,” Guster said. “As a team, we need to be more together than just two people who want it and two people who don’t quite want it.

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

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