Five Hawk juniors to watch


Ting Xuan Tan

Iowa’s Lefteris Theodorou returns the ball during a tennis match at the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex, Friday, April 8, 2016. Illinois won over Iowa, 4-0. (The Daily Iowan/Ting Xuan Tan)

By Blake Dowson

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Lefteris Theodorou, men’s tennis

At times, Theodorou is the best player on the Iowa men’s tennis team. At other times, it seems like his head isn’t exactly into his match, and he struggles. When he is on his game, the Hawkeyes are a tough match.

It’s a matter of consistency throughout the whole season for him. But when he does get things clicking on the court, it’s fun to watch. He is as passionate as they come and possesses the most raw talent on the team.

He was voted The Daily Iowan’s Freshman of the Year two years ago and was the presumable No. 1 player for the Hawkeyes heading into last season, but a jump in success didn’t come.

Madison Waymire, women’s cross-country

The Grimes, Iowa, native was the best runner on the Iowa women’s cross-country team in 2015, so it’s no surprise she ends up on this list. Though she won’t fly under the radar as with some others on this list, Waymire is too important to her squad to not put her on this list.

She was Iowa’s top runner in every single race last season, including a 32nd-place finish at the Big Ten Championships with a time of 21:01, good for the 10th-fastest 6,000-meter time in school history.

She was also the team’s fastest miler during the indoor track season, breaking the five-minute barrier at 4:58.60. She redshirted her 2016 outdoor track season, though there’s little doubt she would’ve been one of the best runners on the team if she had competed.

Drake Kulick, football

There are bigger names that could be mentioned here, but there might not be another junior stepping into an impact role this season who will be more important than Kulick taking over the fullback responsibilities.

It’s no secret Iowa likes to use the fullback. The Hawkeyes might have been the only team in the country last season to have a two-fullback rotation. So with Adam Cox and Macon Plewa graduating at the end of the 2015 season, Kulick finds himself atop the depth chart. He will be in charge of opening up holes for the Iowa running game, which the Hawkeyes base everything on.

He’s a big guy, listed at 6-1 and almost 240 pounds. He’s also a pretty athletic fullback; he moved to the position after coming to Iowa as a linebacker. The Muscatine native played mostly on special teams last season (because, apparently, there weren’t enough snaps for three fullbacks) but saw some action in the backfield against Northwestern, catching a pass for 22 yards.

Austin Hodges, men’s gymnastics

Hodges was a solid performer for a solid Hawkeye team last season, and he will be a prominent athlete for the team this season as he moves from under- to upperclassman.

He competed for Iowa at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships, placing in the top 12 in two events at the Big Tens and top 25 in two events at the NCAAs.

In a career-high score of 14.725 on the pommel horse, Hodges placed seventh overall in the finals of the Big Tens, his best finish at the event. He was also 12th on the high bar at Big Tens, with a score of 13.950.

He also competed on two separate days at the NCAAs, placing tied for 25th on the high bar on Day 2 of competition and 15th on Day 1 in the high bar.

Kaitlyn Mullarkey, softball

Mullarkey was a team co-captain as a sophomore last season to highlight her importance to the Iowa softball team. She started 37 of 41 games at first base for the squad, and she has the ability to play the outfield as well.

She hit a respectable .286 on the year, with 31 RBIs and nine long balls. She did enough damage at the plate to make her an indispensable piece, but she earned much of her playing time with her glove at first base. She made only 1 error all year, an incredible stat for a first baseman, leading to a .997 fielding percentage.

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