The Daily Iowan

New season sparks excitement for Iowa track and field

The track and field season gets underway Saturday, and Iowa is looking to build off last season’s success.

Iowa%27s+Mar%27yea+Harris+crosses+the+finish+line+during+the+4x400+meter+relay+during+the+Larry+Wieczorek+Invitational+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+20%2C+2017.+Harris+anchored+the+Hawkeyes+relay+team+to+a+victory+with+a+45.599+split.+
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New season sparks excitement for Iowa track and field

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

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Track and field is back. Both the Hawkeye men’s and women’s teams will begin the indoor 2018-19 season by competing this Saturday at the Jimmy Grant Invitational at the Recreation Building.

Both squads have high expectations for the upcoming season, and it starts with this meet.

Returning sprinters Brianna Guillory and Mar’yea Harris both placed top five in the Big Ten in numerous events last year, and they want to continue that success.

Guillory returns as an All-American who helped Team USA win the gold medal in the 1,600-meter relay at a championship event in Toronto last year.

Harris returns as one of the most accomplished runners in program history, and he is confident more good things will come on Saturday, specifically in the 600 meter dash.

“This Saturday, personally, what I’d like to accomplish is to break the school record in the 600 and then as a team, just go out there and see everyone have fun, compete, come out with some personal records, and just run some good races,” Harris said.

RELATED: By the Numbers: Men’s track and field

Setting a school record may an unrealistic goal for a majority of athletes, but Harris is no ordinary athlete.

Junior sprinter Collin Hofacker is also excited about the new season.

The other schools in the Grant Invitational are Drake, Iowa State, Illinois State, and Northern Iowa.

“It’s always nice to get out there and get to race against different people,” Hofacker said. “In practice you are racing against the same person over and over, and it’s nice to go out there and actually try to beat somebody that doesn’t wear the same jersey as you.”

Hofacker, another returning All-American, singled out the 1,600-meter relay as an event to keep an eye on Saturday and throughout the season. The men’s 1,600 relay won the Big Ten title at the outdoor championships last year, and expectations remain high for the group.

“You can expect a lot more — everyone is back from that relay, and we even added guys that can contribute,” Hofacker said. “So, who knows who you will see on that relay — everyone is fighting for spots, and it’s deep.”

An important function of this weekend’s meet, various team members said, is to help the freshmen adjust to a college track meet.

“It gives you a chance to see what the competition is going to be like all over the place, while also allowing you to see what a real college track meet is like,” Harris said.

Director of Track & Field Joey Woody had a similar belief about getting the freshman class going early, especially with the talent this class contains.

“This is the best class we’ve ever signed, and this will continue to allow our program to reach the highest levels,” Woody said in a release.

Despite past success, the Hawkeyes plan to come out with something to prove.

“I just want to help get the school of Iowa on the map,” Harris said. “I feel like we are very underrated and underappreciated despite having a lot of talent, and just being able to get the program on the map and get some more recognition would be good.”

That quest will start at 9 a.m. with field events. Running events are tentatively scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

 

 

 

 

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