The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s 4×100 squad still figuring things out after Drake Relays

DES MOINES — The Drake Relays were supposed to be the place where a shaky men’s 4×100 relay ream would to figure things out.

The Hawkeyes did not, however, as junior Vinnie Saucer, sophomore Aaron Mallett, junior Brendan Thompson, and senior Keith Brown  didn’t make it to the finals. They finished ninth in the preliminaries with a time of 40.61.

The four have struggled this season with baton exchanges. At the Florida Relays, the squad ran into some trouble. While in Des Moines, the handoffs were there, but everything else didn’t fall into place as they had hoped.

“For some reason, the time wasn’t there,” Thompson said. “We didn’t run fast, and it was very disappointing.”

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody, who oversees the relay, has used six different runners this season on Iowa’s top-tier relay team.  In past competitions this season, Woody has used a combination of Saucer, junior James Harrington, Mallett, Thompson, and sophomore Jared Ganschow.

While exchanges may be part of the problem, Thompson noted there might be a larger problem in the relay.

“It’s more or less getting the right guys on the relay and getting everyone synched to each other,” the junior said. “It seems like as soon as we get used to a squad, someone gets hurt, we switch things around, and someone comes back.

“Things have just been kind of a jumble all season.”

With the loss of sophomore O’Shea Wilson — who was a part of the winning relay at last season’s conference meet — to an Achilles-tendon injury, the athletes have had a lot of adjusting to do.

“O’Shea is hard to replace,” Woody said. “The guy was one of the best sprinters in the Big Ten last year. It definitely makes a major impact on our relay team.”

Wilson’s injury wasn’t the only downfall the team experienced. Brown was also part of that same relay and has been out for some time this season. He suffered an Achilles injury along with degenerative disk disease.

In addition to Brown battling injuries, Harrington endured a hamstring injury before the Drake Relays. That caused a less-than-100 percent Brown to run the race.

Woody wanted Brown to take things slowly after his injury, but the circumstances forced him to run the race. That’s a less than ideal situation and prior to Drake, the senior hadn’t trained for about two weeks.

“Personally, I take some of the blame for not running how I know I could,” Brown said. “The 4×100 is a tough event because of how much precision it takes to execute a fast race.

“We haven’t had our entire true ‘A’ team race together yet, so we still have a lot of room to improve.”

There’s a chance that the squad could find a good combination before championship season comes around in a few weeks.

It’s what the coaching staff hopes for, and it won’t be easy.

“We need consistency and consistent handoffs,” Woody said. “It’s just a matter of everyone feeling good on the same day and getting that chemistry going.

“I still believe that this relay can actually be better and run faster than the relay that we had last year.”

Follow @marioxwilliams on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa track and field team.

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