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Running Hawks Prepare for Big Ten Championship

Betsy Flood, Tiffany Medenwaldt, Jeff Thode and Jeffery Herron are just a handful of the Iowa Hawkeye track standouts at the Musco Twiilight meet May 22nd. Their tremendous accomplishments should give them an extra edge at the Track and Field Big Ten Championships, approaching this weekend in Bloomington, Indiana.
After winning the 3,000-meter at the Musco Twilight XI meet, sophomore Betsy Flood was named Big Ten Women’s Track co-Athlete of the week for May 5. Her mark of 9:22:63 is a college-best and ranks third all-time at Iowa.
Though freshman Jeff Thode was not name an athlete of the week, his performance at the Musco Twilight XI meet made history, setting a new facility and meet record in the 1,500 meters. His efforts will make a dent in the Iowa record book with a time of 3:44:51.
SophomoreTiffany Medenwaldt also made a dent in the record book with her winning toss of 161-3 (49.16m) at Musco. Her toss broke a nearly 20-year record set by Denise Taylor in 1992. She also placed second in the hammer throw. Medenwaldt’s toss of 171-11 (52.40) puts her second all-time at Iowa.
Another sophomore, Jeffery Herron, made a best collegiate mark. Herron successfully shifted from the high jump to the long jump with his best collegiate mark of 24-9 (7.54 m). This performance places Herron at the top of the Big Ten rankings and 41st nationally. Also, his mark ranks ninth all-time at Iowa.
Now that is ammunition for the Big Ten Championship. The University of Iowa track teams head to Bloomington for three days of competition, starting Friday, May 14.
Ammunition is something that the track Hawks need. Last season at the Big Ten Championships, something odd happened to the University of Iowa track and field coach, Larry Wieczorek. No, he didn’t have a heart attack or leave the program, but for the second time in 13 seasons, none of his Hawkeyes placed on the top of the award’s podium. Of course, Larry Wieczorek is anticipating his team to do better this year.
When the University of Iowa track teams compete at Robert C. Haugh Complex in Bloomington, they are determined to fulfill what they didn’t last season. Wieczorek told Hawkeye Sports, “You’re trying to have an outstanding team, but you’re also trying to have outstanding individuals and ultimately winning a Big Ten title is the top of the heap.” In addition to Flood, Thode, Medenwaldt and Herron, Wiezorek adds Ray Varner to the contender mix. “We have some contenders in there for sure; probably our lead guy is Ray Varner in the 400 hurdles.” In the Big Ten, Jeffery Herron is ranked first in the long jump, while Zeke Sayon is ranked first in the 100, and Matt Byers is ranked No. 1 in the javelin as a freshman.
So, the stats are on the Hawks’ side. A repeat of last Big Tens does not look likely; however, anything has proved to happen at the championship event. Last season the Hawkeye men finished seventh during outdoors with 69 points, while the women finished 10th with 31. Both the men and women progressed at the most recent indoor championships in February. The men placed 5th and the women were 9th. Wieczorek believes his team will improve even more at this championship and be a contender for the championship. On paper the Hawks look like serious competition, but Wieczorek explains the difficulty his Big Ten opponents. “The Big Ten is a tough conference. I explain this to people: we got 5th indoors, and that’s like the football team getting a bowl berth or the basketball team getting an NCAA tournament bid. Track and field is pretty strong in the Big Ten. We'd like to be in the top 5. If we're out of the top 5, I'd feel probably we underachieved. On the other end of it, we'd like to be in the top 3. If you get in the top 3, then you're moving toward being a real contender. Part of that process is to become a 100-point team; we scored 57 indoors -- right on our paper points. We're in that 100-range on paper, so one of our stated goals is to become a 100-point team. If we got 100 points this weekend, I'd consider that a successful Big Ten championships for us."
Improvement is the goal. With focus, fire, and a little luck the Hawks should be on their way. The Big Ten Network will air a tape-delay broadcast of the championships on Saturday, May 22 at 3 p. m. Central time.

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