The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s track and field wins Big Ten Outdoor Championship

The Iowa men finished first, while the women placed third at the conference championships in Iowa City.

University+of+Iowa+freshman+Wayne+Lawrence+Jr.+competes+in+the+400+meter+dash+preliminaries+during+the+second+day+of+the+Big+Ten+Track+and+Field+Outdoor+Championships+at+Cretzmeyer+Track+on+Saturday%2C+May+11%2C+2019.+Lawrence+placed+ninth+in+the+400+meter+dash+preliminaries.+
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Iowa men’s track and field wins Big Ten Outdoor Championship

University of Iowa freshman Wayne Lawrence Jr. competes in the 400 meter dash preliminaries during the second day of the Big Ten Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Cretzmeyer Track on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Lawrence placed ninth in the 400 meter dash preliminaries.

University of Iowa freshman Wayne Lawrence Jr. competes in the 400 meter dash preliminaries during the second day of the Big Ten Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Cretzmeyer Track on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Lawrence placed ninth in the 400 meter dash preliminaries.

Alyson Kuennen

University of Iowa freshman Wayne Lawrence Jr. competes in the 400 meter dash preliminaries during the second day of the Big Ten Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Cretzmeyer Track on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Lawrence placed ninth in the 400 meter dash preliminaries.

Alyson Kuennen

Alyson Kuennen

University of Iowa freshman Wayne Lawrence Jr. competes in the 400 meter dash preliminaries during the second day of the Big Ten Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Cretzmeyer Track on Saturday, May 11, 2019. Lawrence placed ninth in the 400 meter dash preliminaries.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

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In 2011, the last time the Iowa men’s track and field team won a conference title, it was a close event that went down to the final relay in Iowa City.

The same thing happened this year.

Going into the 4×400-meter relay, the Hawkeye men found themselves ahead of Indiana by 5 points, and as long as the squad didn’t drop the baton or get disqualified, chances were they would clinch the team title.

Instead of taking any chances that Indiana would rise up the scoreboard, the Iowa relay consisting of Wayne Lawrence Jr., Chris Thompson, Carter Lilly, and Mar’Yea Harris won the event to kick off the cheering for the Iowa men.

“We needed the win to secure the team title and to be able to go out and get the win in front of the home crowd was just means a lot,” Harris said. “To see my teammates’ reactions after I crossed the finish line and got the win, it was just an amazing feeling to see them all happy.”

On their own Francis X. Cretzmeyer track, the Iowa men won the Big Ten Outdoor Championship with 116 points, outscoring second-place Indiana by 13.

The team championship is a special one for Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody. While discussing the title, Woody got emotional while describing what the title would have meant to his mentor and volunteer coach John Raffensperger, who died just 20 days ago.

“I hadn’t cried yet – even through the whole funeral I’ve just been trying to keep it together,” Woody said. “We wanted to do this for Coach Raff and we knew that he was here with us. It’s tough because he’s been such an important part of my life and of this team. These kids showed up and got it done, and he’s smiling down on us for sure.”

The team wore a patch spelling out “RAFF” while competing over the weekend.

Competition ended with an impressive ranking for the Hawkeye women as well. The women finished in third place with 93 points, behind Ohio State (126) and Indiana (95).

The difference maker for both teams may be contributed to the Iowa fans in the bleachers, who, according to Harris, took performances to an even higher level.

“The home crowd helps so much,” Harris said. “When you hear them chanting your name over and over again and cheering for you, it just motivates you and makes you want to try harder so you can put on a good show for them.”

Along with anchoring the champion 4×400-meter relay, Harris also defended his outdoor 400-meter title. Harris ran a season-best in the event (45.67) to bring home his second-consecutive gold medal in the outdoor 400.

Harris was not the only Hawkeye to defend a conference title, however.

Laulauga Tausaga added her third-career Big Ten Championship title to her ever-growing list of accomplishments.

Tausaga put up new facility record in her first throw of the day, which traveled 60.28 meters. That mark would hold up throughout the rest of the competition, making Tausaga the outdoor discus conference champion.

Tausaga defended her title after winning the discus title last outdoor season, where she also won a shot put title.

Joining Tausaga and Harris as champions was Chris Douglas, although his title came under different circumstances.

Douglas pulled an upset in the 400-meter hurdles to add his name to the record books, putting up a lifetime best time of 50.32 seconds to win his first ever Big Ten title.

Douglas finished third at Outdoor Big Tens in the event last year.

A team track and field title requires an entire program to be on the same page, and according to Woody, that is exactly how a conference crown was claimed in Iowa City.

“The guys did what we came here to do and what we’ve been planning for the last five years,” Woody said. “The guys had the vision, the mindset, the drive, and the heart. It was just all about fighting and doing it for the team and doing it for each other, and they all came through.”

 

 

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About the Writer
Robert Read, Sports Reporter

Email: [email protected]

Robert Read is a sports reporter currently covering the men's track and field team at The Daily Iowan. He is a freshman...

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