June 8, 2011
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The University of Iowa opened the 2011 NCAA Championships with junior Erik Sowinski in the 800 meters and sophomore Ethan Holmes in the 400-meter hurdles Wednesday evening at Drake Stadium.
Sowinski opened the Championships for the Hawkeyes with a personal record-setting performance in the 800 meters semifinals. He finished fifth in his heat with a personal record time of 1:47.83. Despite nearly breaking the school record (1:47.64), Sowinski missed advancing to the finals by .40 seconds. The Waukesha, Wis., native placed 15th overall.
"The race got out a lot slower than I wanted it too," Sowinski said. "I didn't really want to take the lead from the get-go because I wanted to have a kick to compete with the other guys and I think it caught up with me in the end. It is disappointing, but on the bright side it's a personal record and I have another year so I can't be too disappointed."
The runners in the third heat of the semifinals had to run through a rain shower that started as the runners approached the start line.
"Being from the Midwest, we'll practice in the rain one day and the next it'll be 35 degrees so I don't think the rain affected me much, but I can't speak on behalf of the other guys," Sowinski said.
Holmes, the only collegiate athlete to qualify for the semifinals in both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles, placed seventh (51.06) in the third heat of the 400-meter hurdles. After finishing 14th overall and missing the finals cutoff (50.34), Holmes is ready to bounce back Thursday in the 110-high hurdles.
"I would have been happy not making the finals if I had ran a person best, but it wasn't even close," Holmes said after his race. "It just wasn't my day. I just have to shake it off and come back tomorrow and show up."
Holmes and Sowinski are also members of the 1,600-meter relay team that competes tomorrow night. The Hawkeyes are the only Big Ten school competing in both the men's and women's 4x400-meter relay.
Sophomore Justin Austin continues his quest for a national title tomorrow in the 200 meter semifinals. Austin will run at 5:45 p.m., followed by Holmes (110-meter hurdles) and the men's and women's 4x400-meter relays.