Baumann: Relays are not where they need to be


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At first glace, the Iowa track and field relay teams look as though they will be ready for the Big Ten Championships, which are less than three weeks away — set to take place in East Lansing, Michigan, on May 15-17.

Both the men’s and women’s 4x400-meter relays have a first-place finish under their belts this season, and the 4x100-meter relays have a second and two third-place finishes, respectively.

While that is nice, looking at the bigger picture provides a different viewpoint. In order to qualify for nationals, relay teams have to be within the top 24 of the nation, and as of this writing, none of the four teams will make the cut. Additionally, only the men’s 4x1 ranks in the top three in the Big Ten.

Director of Track and Field Joey Woody has repeatedly stressed how important it is to him that his team has great 400- and 1,600-meter relays. He wants the Hawkeyes to be known for them and have them be the best events of the program. 

That is not how things have gone so far in 2015, though, and Iowa’s most important events are definitely not where they should be at this point in the season. 

Considering that, it would be a stretch to say the relays are ready to do some damage at the Big Ten meet. It’s not impossible, just improbable.

With the exception of the men’s 4x4, the relay teams have yet to post a better time than last season.

Last weekend in Des Moines for the Drake Relays epitomized the up-and-down season for the relays. Only the women’s 4x1 made it to the finals. The other three were dropped from the competition after the preliminary rounds.

Because Iowa puts such an emphasis on the important of having a strong 4x1 relay, associate head coach Clive Roberts pulled both Lake Kwaza and Brittany Brown from the 100-meter final in order to save them for the relay. The group was trying to defend their title — the Hawkeyes won the women’s 4x1 at Drake in 2014 — but they were unable to duplicate the feat — a less-than-ideal third-place finish capped off the disappointing weekend in relays.

The Hawkeyes’ last meet of the regular season is scheduled to take place in Iowa City on Saturday, but Musco Twilight XVI will be more important than just home-track advantage. It will be the team’s last opportunity to showcase what it is all about, particularly in relay events, before it takes the trip to the conference championships.

In order to be seen as a team that specializes in relays, four events — both 4x1s and 4x4s — need to do something big at Musco while the advantage of a home crowd is on their side. Whether that be grabbing a gold in the event or hitting a mark that will bump them up in the national or conference rankings, something has to be done before the Hawkeyes head to Big Tens.

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

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