Iowa tracksters to push each other in intrasquad

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Joseph Cress

Iowa’s Reno Tuufuli competes during an event in the Iowa Recreation building on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. The Hawkeyes competed against the Panthers during the Iowa Open. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

The Iowa track and field season unofficially kicks off at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Black and Gold Intrasquad Meet at the Recreation Building.

Though there won’t be any visiting teams competing, the event marks the first time the non-cross-country athletes will perform in an organized and competitive environment since their training began in August.

“If anything, the intrasquad meet is a good way to get everybody in the competing mood right before we hit winter break,” junior William Dougherty said. “It builds a little bit of camaraderie. The whole team is out here together, some people are setting personal records, and it’s a good time to check out what the freshmen can do at the collegiate level.”

The meet comes at an awkward time given that the athletes will be away from their coaching staff almost immediately afterwards. In the eyes of junior Brianna Guillory, this makes the meet particularly important.

“The meet represents the start of being an actual team,” she said. “We work together every day in practice, but it’s different when you have a competition level of adrenaline, and if we can have that against each other, it sets us up well to feel comfortable with that adrenaline against other teams.”

The meet will have 11 events: pole vault, long jump, high jump, shot put, 60-meter hurdles, 60 meters, 600-meters, 1,000 meters, 300 meters, mile, and 4×400-meter relay. It serves as a preview to the fans for the upcoming 2018 season.

The meet will be particularly exciting for newcomers, including coach Eric Werskey. He was named an assistant coach and head of the throwing program in August. He previously spent two years at California State-Northridge.

“It’s really cool when we are more confined indoors to see the energy build. I think it’s going to be a really exciting weekend,” Werskey said. “It’s been a hard fall in terms of training for the throwers. Everything is going really well, though, and I think we are on track for the season.”

Two All-American throwers — Laulauga Tausaga on the women’s side and Reno Tuufuli on the men’s — return for the Hawkeyes and will headline Werskey’s group.

After Saturday, the team faces the challenge of staying in shape before its first indoor meet. The Hawkeye Invitational, on Jan. 13, is just over a month away.

“We’ll stay in close contact with the coaches over break. We try to make do with the best local facilities we can back at home,” Dougherty said. “We’ll stay on top of each other, but time with the family is also much needed.”

After the Hawkeye Invitational, the team will compete on consecutive weekends indoors up until the Big Ten Championships on Feb. 23 and 24. The NCAA Indoor Championships will be held in College Station, Texas, on March 9 and 10.

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