Hawkeye field athletes get off to a hot start in outdoor season

Jay Hunt and Konstadina Spanoudakis will look to translate early season recognition to long-term success this weekend.


Joseph Cress

Competitors line up during the Border Battle indoor track meet in the UI Recreation Building with Iowa, Missouri and Illinois competing on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017. The Hawkeye women defeated Missouri and Illinois, 105-33 and 96-51 respectively, while the men defeated Missouri, 107-27 and fell to Illinois, 85-74.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

The outdoor track and field season offers a change of scenery for athletes after a long indoor campaign. Different circumstances and events can lead some teams to adjust slowly going into the new season, but luckily for Iowa, it has avoided that bumpy road.

After opening the season with the Baldy Castillo Invitational, an athlete on each of the men’s and women’s team brought home Big Ten honors.

The Hawkeyes swept the Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week awards following that meet, with Jay Hunt and Konstadina Spanoudakis bringing home the honors. It was the first time for either athlete.

During the indoor season, Laulauga Tausaga, Mar’Yea Harris, and Jenny Kimbro each also received the weekly honor.

Spanoudakis threw for 53.41 meters in the discus to start the outdoor season, which bettered her third-place mark on Iowa’s all-time leaderboard by nearly a meter.

The mark leads the Big Ten, and in a deep group of throwers, she will try to do some damage.

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“We have a really strong team,” Spanoudakis said. “On the throwers’ side, we have Lagi [Tausaga], and we know what she can do, and we have Reno [Tuufuli], who’s an All-American. It’s a deep group. We definitely have some strong competitors on the team this season, and we know the sky’s the limit.”

Her fellow Big Ten honoree also had quite the opening to the outdoor season. Hunt had a lifetime-best in the high jump, clearing 2.11 meters to reach ninth place on Iowa’s all-time list.

He also leads the Big Ten in his event at this point. His record mark is good for 13th in the NCAA.

The hot start to the season is a confidence-builder for Hunt, and he has bigger goals.

“I’m hoping to clear 7 feet this year,” Hunt said. “I want be ready for Big Ten Championships and score some points for the team. The goal is always to win the Big Ten Championships, and I think we’re in a fantastic place to do that this year. I just want to do my part.”

He is accurate in talking about the talent on both Iowa track squads. In the preseason coaches’ poll, the Iowa men were ranked No. 22 and the women No. 23.

The next opportunity for the Hawkeye field athletes to repeat their record performances will come this weekend, when the squads will split competition between two meets.

Iowa will compete in both the Florida Relays (Thursday-Saturday) in Gainesville and the Stanford Invitational (Friday-Saturday) in California.

Spanoudakis will just continue to listen to the advice of her coach.

“It’s just about trusting the process,” she said. “I get inside my head a lot and question things, but Coach [Eric] Werskey tells me to relax and just trust the process, trust his knowledge, and the results will come.”