Iowa hurdlers jump over competition

The depth of the Hawkeye hurdling program has propelled the group to one of the most dangerous in the country.


Ben Allan Smith

From left: Iowa’s Tria Seawater-Simmons, Minnesota State’s Alexis Smith, and Iowa’s Jenny Kimbro compete in the women’s 100 meter hurdles during the 19th annual Musco Twilight meet at the Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track in Iowa City on Thursday, April 12. Kimbro finished first with the time of 13.77.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

The Iowa track and field program has brought home the hardware and earned national recognition all season long. The women reached their highest ranking ever in the coaches’ poll, and the men have been in the top 25 regularly.

A large catalyst behind what has been an eventful season for Iowa has been a talented group of hurdlers.

The likes of Jaylan McConico, Chris Douglas, and Jenny Kimbro have had noteworthy performances for Iowa this season, but the success of these hurdlers starts at the top.

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody ran competitively on the international track circuit in the early 2000s, earning a spot on three U.S. World teams. In 2000, Woody missed qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team by only 0.37 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles.

Now in the coaching ranks, Woody has translated his success on the track toward preparing his athletes to bring home titles of their own.

As far as this season goes, so far, so good.

McConico and Kimbro swept the 60-meter hurdles at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, leading both the Iowa men and women to their best finish in the Big Ten in years.

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“Having Jenny win on the women’s side is the one I wanted bad,” Woody said. “I think it sets a precedent of what type of hurdle program we expect to have on the women’s side like we have with the men.”

The Iowa hurdling program has made a name for itself during the past couple of years, with Aaron Mallett having just graduated after his record-breaking career. That reputation, along with Woody at the helm, is a large part of what got McConico to Iowa in the first place.

“Chris [Douglas] is a big part of why I came here,” McConico said. “I raced against him in high school, and I knew the kind of reputation Coach Woody and this program had with hurdles. I thought Iowa gave me a great opportunity to improve.”

Douglas used to race against McConico, and now he practices with him. That friendly competition has been beneficial to Douglas, who finished third at Big Tens and sixth at the national meet to pick up his most recent All-American honor.

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To open the outdoor season, Iowa continued the hurdling success from the indoor season by finishing 1-2-3 in the men’s 110-meter hurdles at the Baldy Castillo Invitational.

“I think it’s good to show everyone that we’re a serious hurdling program by taking 1-2-3 at that meet,” Douglas said. “And for us individually, it’s nice to see good times this early in the outdoor season. It’s really good for our confidence, and we can really bring it later on.”

McConico took first in the event (13.82), with Douglas (14.18), and up-and-comer Anthony Williams (14.25) finishing second and third, respectively.

Williams, a sophomore, finished fourth at Big Tens in the 60-hurdles during the indoor season, and he is quickly becoming a key contributor.

“Anthony Williams is still a work in progress with some of the technical stuff, but that guy has got some wheels,” Woody said. “He has proven that he’s one of the best hurdlers in the conference.”

The Hawkeye hurdlers have talent to spare, and if the outdoor season continues to resemble the indoor, the rest of the Big Ten should be prepared to be jumped over.