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Track & Field Revs While Football Ends

Middle distance ace Erik Sowinski and the Hawkeyes hope to celebrate at the Drake Relays on April 26-28.

Middle distance ace Erik Sowinski and the Hawkeyes hope to celebrate at the Drake Relays on April 26-28.

April 25, 2012


Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Kirk Ferentz and the University of Iowa football team are turning the lights out on the spring portion of the schedule; Larry Wieczorek and the track and field program are sprinting into the meat of their season.

Both coaches met with media Tuesday: Ferentz to wrap up the 15-practice spring, and Wieczorek to preview this weekend's America's Classic, the Drake Relays.

Wieczorek treats the Drake Relays in Des Moines as a home meet because of the support the Hawkeyes receive from adoring in-state fans.

"This is the Hawkeye state, and we're the Hawkeyes," Wieczorek said. "Kids who aren't from Iowa are amazed when they go (to the Drake Relays). Before they have even done anything, they're just jogging around warming up, and people are hollering at them, `Go Hawks," and asking for their autographs. It is special, and it is America's Classic -- you have teams from coast to coast attending, the country focuses this weekend on the Drake Relays and the Penn Relays, so it's very special for us."





"This is the Hawkeye state, and we're the Hawkeyes. Kids who aren't from Iowa are amazed when they go (to the Drake Relays). Before they have even done anything, they're just jogging around warming up, and people are hollering at them, `Go Hawks," and asking for their autographs. It is special, and it is America's Classic -- you have teams from coast to coast attending, the country focuses this weekend on the Drake Relays and the Penn Relays, so it's very special for us."
Larry Wieczorek
UI head track & field coach


The Hawkeyes will have plenty of opportunity to showcase their talents, and anything close to duplicating what was accomplished in 2011 will be viewed as a gigantic highlight. Last year, the UI foursome of Erin Jones, Tiffany Hendricks, Ashley Liverpool and Bethany Praska won the university women's sprint medley relay in 3 minutes, 48.63 seconds; 20 minutes later, Hawkeyes Zeke Sayon, Justin Austin, Steven Willey and Erik Sowinksi won the university men's sprint medley relay in 3:16.18.

"It would be great if we could do something like last year when Bethany Praska anchored the women's sprint medley and moments later Erik Sowinski, with an 800, anchored the men's sprint medley," Wieczorek said. "The announcer confirmed that this is why they call it the Hawkeye state, because we won both those, back-to-back."

Saturday, April 21, was a big day for the track and field and football programs. The annual Musco Twilight meet was held at Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track, and not only was there quality competition, but the closing ceremony was a spectacle.

"I savored the end of the meet on a personal note," Wieczorek said. "Here we are down in a wetland, and we made something special down there. As the fireworks were shooting off, it kind of reminded me of Field of Dreams -- all the headlights were coming down the street. Here in this dark corner of Iowa City, we have these Musco lights lighting it up, we have a video board showing highlights in the dark, and then of course, the fireworks going up, so it was kind of special to me that that happened."

Saturday also marked the 15th and final spring football practice. The Hawkeyes returned to Kinnick Stadium three times following an open practice April 14.

"We made good progress," Ferentz said. "The open scrimmage wasn't much to look at, and that's kind of typical of spring practice overall. Saturday's work was better. Both the two practices midweek were good practices, also."

The emergence of the defensive line caught Ferentz's eye.

"We went in concerned about the defensive line and those guys made progress," Ferentz said. "I doubt anybody made more progress than Louis Trinca-Pasat; Steve Bigach played well; Joe Gaglione had a good spring; Darian Cooper was up and down a bit, as was Riley McMinn, but you expect that from young guys. Bud Spears showed some signs, and Mike Hardy did some good things."

The development of the tight ends also caught Ferentz's eye.

"We had two freshmen tight ends we redshirted a year ago, and Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger-Coble did a nice job this spring," Ferentz said. "That's a starting point at least with some guys."

The football Hawkeyes will kick off the 2012 season Sept. 1 against Northern Illinois in Chicago's Soldier Field; the UI track & field team opens the Drake Relays on Thursday.