Iowa track and field head to Big Ten Indoor Championships

As postseason competition kicks off, Hawkeye track and field looks to bring home indoor conference titles this weekend.

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Iowa track and field head to Big Ten Indoor Championships

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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The Big Ten Indoor Championships will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today and Saturday with bragging rights and a conference title on the line for Iowa track and field.

The Hawkeyes head into the championship season boasting two highly competitive squads. The women’s team comes into the weekend ranked No. 15 in the nation, and the men are ranked No. 22.

Fueling these rankings are several marks that rank among the best in the Big Ten.

Three Hawkeyes lead the conference in four events. Mar’Yea Harris leads the conference in both the 400 (46.02) and the 600 (1:16.60) meters. Jaylan McConico is at the top of the leaderboard in the 60-meter hurdles (7.73), while Tria Simmons claims the top spot in the pentathlon (4,220 points).

RELATED: By the Numbers: Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships

The men’s 1,600 meter relay team consisting of Karayme Bartley, Antonio Woodard, Wayne Lawrence, and Harris also leads the Big Ten with a time of 3:04.76.

The entire indoor season has been building up to this weekend, and the stiff competition Iowa will face at the Big Ten Championships is something the Hawkeyes are prepared for.

“They have been going head-to-head against some of the best in the conference all season long,” said Joey Woody, Iowa’s director of track and field. “Every day around here there are championship-level practices and championship-level competition. That’s part of how we prepare our athletes, exposing them to great talent and great competition every single week, so they have experience with that environment and when they get to championship meets, it’s like they have already been there before.”

Ben Smith
Iowa’s Mar’Yea Harris, left, and Ohio State’s Drelan Bramwell compete in the final leg of the men’s 4×400 meter relay during the 2018 Drake Relays at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday, April 28, 2018. Iowa placed first in the event with a time of 3:05.05.

Lawrence has seen success with his relay team this season, even in the face of quality opponents. But he says much of this is due to the quality of talent on his own team.

“I definitely feel prepared going into this meet,” Lawrence said. “We have three of the top five 400 runners in the conference, and I get to train along two of them every day. They push me every day, my coaches push me every day and that has helped me get ready to go against some other great competition at Big Tens.”

Bartley is one of those 400 runners that Lawrence mentioned, and his goals are clear for this weekend.

“I want to go in there and pick up as many points as I can,” Bartley said. “I obviously want to put up some great performances myself, but the ultimate goal is to pick up a team title – we are projected for third right now, but we’ve got the type of team that can bring home a championship.”

The stage is set for the Big Ten Indoor Championships and expectations are high, but Woody wants his athletes to stay focused and to keep the mindset that they have had all season long.

“It’s about doing what we have been doing all year,” Woody said. “It’s still a track meet, they’re still putting the same uniform on and competing for their team. I don’t want them to think of it as anything more. Obviously it’s a special weekend and we want to perform at a high level. Our goal is to win the Big Ten Championship.”

The hunt for conference glory will begin at 9 a.m. (CST) today in Ann Arbor, with the awards presentations scheduled for 5:10 p.m. Saturday.

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