May 12, 2012
MADISON, Wis. -- The University of Iowa track and field team advanced to the finals in 14 events and broke one school and facility record during Day 2 of the 2012 Big Ten Track and Field Outdoor Championships.
Erik Sowinski broke the 800-meters school and facility records by cruising to a 1:46.88 finish in the prelims. He is the first athlete in school history to break the 1:47 mark. Sowinski previously held the school record of 1:47.02.
"It was definitely exciting coming back home," said Sowinski, a native of Waukesha, Wis. "I haven't raced here in the four years I've been in college, so it's nice to do well in front of family and friends. I've been taking it out hard all year and I felt very comfortable today. Tomorrow's final is going to be a challenge but I'm going to go out and try to get the title."
Jeffery Herron improved on last year's fourth place finish in the high jump and grabbed a third-place medal with a mark of 7-1 ½ (2.17m). Herron was a victim of a schedule of events that forced him to race back and forth between the high jump and the long jump. He earned seventh place in the long jump with a mark of 24-7 (7.49m). His efforts put 7.5 points on the board for the Hawkeyes.
"The high jump was a good mark," said Herron. "It was nice to get on the medal stand because the Big Ten got a lot more competitive over the last year. It was a decent performance, my second best ever. My first jump in the long jump was my best mark and it felt really good. It's unfortunate they had to go on at the same time but I think I handled it decently well. I always wish I could have done better."
Both the men's and women's 400-meter relays advanced to tomorrow's finals with fourth-place finishes. The women's quartet of Erin Jones, Raven Moore, Ashley Liverpool and Hannah Simonson turned in the ninth fastest time in school history when they crossed the line in 45.45.
"They got the fourth seed and now they need to get the points," said Iowa head coach Layne Anderson. "They looked good on each leg and they did a good job of moving the stick and getting to the finals."
Jones also advanced to the finals in the women's open 200. She clocked a 23.71 to finish second in her heat and grab the seventh seed in the finals. Her effort moved her up three spots to No. 6 on Iowa's all-time top performers list.
D'Juan Richardson, Josh Larney, Tevin-Cee Mincy and Justin Austin placed second in their heat with a time of 40.45 to earn the No. 4 seed in tomorrow's 4x1 finals. Austin also advanced to the finals in the men's open 100 and 200. He won his heat in the 200 with a time of 20.78 and will be the No. 3 seed in the finals. He placed second in his 100 meters heat and fourth overall with a time of 10.42.
"I feel smooth and loose," said Austin, last year's Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year. "I went three 3-for-3 today to get to into the finals and tomorrow it'll be time to bring the heat."
"Austin looked good today and the relay did a great job of getting him the baton with a fighting chance," said Wieczorek. "The key tomorrow will be the exchange. Today could have been better and if we do a good job tomorrow of getting to the fourth leg it could be a bang-bang play."
Iowa advanced three athletes to the finals of the 110-meter hurdles. Ethan Holmes, the 2011 Big Ten runner-up, earned the top seed with a time of 13.83. Dan Davis placed second (14.12) in his heat to earn the No. 6 seed and Jordan Mullen ran through a nagging leg injury to earn the eighth and final seed with a time of 14.11.
Holmes also advanced to the finals of the 400-meter hurdles. He grabbed the eighth and final at-large spot with a time of 51.68. Keaton Rickels posted a career-best 51.43 to earn the seventh seed.
Betsy Flood and Jackie Laesch advanced to the finals of the women's 1,500 meters. Flood will be the top seed in the finals after turning in a time of 4:23.92. Laesch advanced to the finals with a personal-best time of 4:27.40. She'll be the 11th seed in Sunday's finals. Keelin Gorman turned in a personal-best of 4:39.02 but missed the finals cut.
"Betsy and Jackie ran well and that was good to see," said Anderson. "Betsy looked Betsy. She looks like she's ready to run faster, which is good because the finals will be super competitive. It's a tough event but today she looked like she'll be ready."
Jeff Thode, the school record holder in the men's 1,500 meters, earned an automatic berth in tomorrow's finals with a time of 3:47.66. Thode placed second in his heat and will be seeded fourth. Ben Witt missed the finals cut but recorded a personal best 3:52.78.
Ashley Liverpool advanced to the finals of the women's 400 meters by posting a personal-best time of 53.06. Liverpool, who owns the fourth fastest time in school history, won her heat and will be the No. 2 seed in the finals.
"Ashley looked great," said Anderson. "She's looked good all year and today she looked like she has a lot left in the tank."
In the women's 100 meters, Raven Moore edged her previous PR with a time of 11.77, but she missed the last spot in the finals by .006 and finished ninth overall. Moore's time ranks 10th on Iowa's all-time top performers list.
Amanda Stahle got on the board with an eighth place finish in the javeline. Stahle hit 141-5 (43.10m) on her first throw to set a new personal-record.
A pair of Hawkeyes wrapped up Day 2 of the multi-events. Jack Eckert put a lid on the decathlon with a first place finish in the 1,500-meters, his 10th and final event. Eckert placed 14th overall with 6,813 points, good enough for fourth all-time in school history. Sarah Ryan placed 12th in the heptathlon, totaling 4,819 points to move up to No. 5 on Iowa's all-time top ten performers list.
"Jack showed a lot of guts," said Wieczorek. "He's a redshirt freshman who's poised to break the school record next season. He could be in the money next year and have a legitimate chance of scoring points."
The third and final day of the Big Ten Championships begins tomorrow at 11 a.m. with the women's triple jump. Defending Big Ten Champions Matt Byers (javelin) and Tory Doris will defend their titles at 1:30 p.m. Austin will defend his 200-meter title at 2:42 p.m.