It’s been a while, hasn’t it Hawkeyes?
For perspective’s sake consider this: The last time members of the University of Iowa men’s track and field team collectively set foot on the winner’s podium at the Big Ten outdoor championships, man was two years away from setting foot on the moon.
Performing before a home crowd at Cretzmeyer Track, Iowa’s runner-up finish in the 4×400-meter relay secured the win over second place Minnesota, 125.5-123.
And they did it with flair. The Hawkeyes were in ninth place with just 15 points when the final day began. But they came on strong scoring 110.5 points on the final day to knock off the Gophers – winners of the last five combined indoor and outdoor conference titles – who held on to first place by .5 points going into the final event.
“It’s almost impossible to put into words this feeling,” said Head Coach Larry Wieczorek, a member of Iowa’s last championship team 44 years ago. “We are so grateful and blessed to have these championships in Iowa City. I couldn’t ask for anything better. The team effort – through the wind and rain. I was praying during that final 4×400. I made up my mind I wouldn’t ask the Good Lord for another thing in my life.”
Three Hawkeyes won individually won titles that helped the team effort. Sophomore Justin Austin, a Milwaukee, Wis., native, won the 200 meters with a time of 20.46 – third-best in the nation – which were also school and track records.
For the second consecutive year, sophomore Matt Byers won the javelin. His 235-4 (71.73m) throw helped him become the 19th athlete in Iowa history to win back-to-back conference championships in the same event.
And junior Troy Doris took home the triple jump title with a 53-8 ½ (16.37m) mark. That performance obliterated the school record (15.36 meters) set in 1990 by Paul Jones, and ranks fifth in the nation and first in the conference. It also completed a personal sweep of both the indoor and outdoor championships.
Need to Know
• Since it entered the Mountain West Conference the Brigham Young men’s track and field team has dominated the outdoor track and field championship. The Cougars now are a perfect 12-for-12.
Six different Cougars won individual titles and the 4×400 meter relay team also took a first on the way to scoring a team-best 212 points. Additionally, head coach Mark Robison was also named as the MWC Coach of the Year.
• The Long Beach State paid a fitting tribute to teammate Cameron Gillet. LBSU, still reeling from Gillet’s recent death in a one-car accident, won the 2011 Big West Conference Track & Field championship. It was their first Big West title since 2008 and third in the last six years.
Field events were huge for LBSU. Ben Woodruff won the men’s javelin title (205-05) and Colin Dunbar won both the hammer throw discus. He became just the second Big West athlete to score in all four throwing events. Tyler Wallace won the pole vault with a personal-record 18-00.50 – a height ties him for fourth in school history and third in the nation.
• Louisiana Tech’s women’s track and field team won its seventh consecutive title at the Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Chelsea won three gold medals and was named the WAC Female Track Athlete of the Year and the WAC Female High Point Scorer. Gary Stanley was named the women’s Coach of the Year, his seventh outdoor honor since Louisiana Tech joined the WAC.
• Wendel McRaven, a 20-year veteran of collegiate cross country and track and field coaching, was named Northern Illinois University’s new head women’s cross country coach. McRaven comes from the University of Illinois where she spent the last six years as the men’s cross country and distance coach.
• South Dakota State’s Ben Jasinski won the championship’s Field MVP award at the Summit League Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Jasinski won the high jump, finished second in the triple jump and finished sixth in the long jump.
• UC Irvine junior Charles Jock has been named Big West Conference Athlete of the Year in men’s track for the second consecutive year. Jock ranks No. 1 in the NCAA and second in the U.S. in the 800 meters (1: 45.19) that broke his own school record.
Jock was named the Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year at the Cal/Nevada Championships after winning the 800 in 1:47.18 March 27 in Claremont. This was the third straight year that he won the 800 at that meet.