Success goes beyond winning meets for Iowa track

Two Hawkeyes, Laulauga Tausaga and Wayne Lawrence, weigh in on the importance of placing first in events versus recording specific marks.


Jenna Galligan

University of Iowa sprinter Wayne Lawrence runs his leg of the 4x400m relay during the Hawkeye Invite at the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020. He and the other members of the Iowa B relay finished in ninth place.

Lucy Liautaud, Sports Reporter

Meet after meet, Iowa track and field has posted big wins and personal records this season — boosting the men’s team to No. 17 nationally and the women to No. 14.

Iowa’s success this season is no accident.

The Hawkeyes continue to train at a high level, with emphasis on the Big Ten championships and qualifying for nationals. The determined attitudes they employ in their training is palpable.

Director of Track and Field Joey Woody said that forward movement is key.

“We can’t just get complacent, because once you take your foot off the gas, then you’re going backwards,” Woody said. “As coaches, we’re always thinking about the next thing, and I think our athletes’ mentality is the same. They could go win a meet and have a [personal record], but they’re thinking about how they can get to the next [personal record].”

Focusing on the next personal record undoubtedly applies to sophomore sprinter Wayne Lawrence, whose personal records currently rank him No. 1 in the Big Ten for the 400-meters (46.09), 600-meters (1:16.55), and 4×400 relay (3:06.72). Lawrence recorded two of those personal bests just last weekend at the Meyo Invitational, winning both the 400 and the 4×400 relay.

Still, Lawrence said he isn’t content with his time for the 400-meters. He wants to work on cutting down from 46.09 seconds to 45 seconds.

“Winning isn’t so bad, considering that I’m the number one guy in the Big Ten right now,” Lawrence said. “I was happy with the win, but not really happy with the time, so I took it with a grain of salt.”

RELATED: Track and field sets records in Nebraska, Indiana

Even with running a personal record as a priority, Iowa track athletes generally don’t start a meet event with a particular number in mind.

“In track and field, you never want to chase a time because you’ll end up running bad,” Lawrence said. “So at practice, I’ll go in and workout and do what it’ll take to get to 45, but when it comes to the race, I run how I know how to run. I run my race, and hopefully I run 45.”

Much like Lawrence, Woody believes fixating on running a certain time can sometimes be a disadvantage.

“At times, the athletes overdo it and press to make it happen versus just knowing that it’s [the personal record] there, so we have a lot of conversations about keeping doing what we’re doing, trusting the training, trusting the environment, and knowing the environment is going to put you over the top and help you hit those big PRs,” Woody said.

Senior thrower Laulauga Tausaga also agrees with Lawrence. She said she thinks posting a good mark generally matters more than winning an event.

“The time that winning does become a big thing is when we are at Big Tens or NCAAs, but those meets are so few and far in-between,” Tausaga said. “When you’re competing against a couple of girls in a track meet, you’re also competing against girls in the country.”

While targeted distances and times are important, Tausaga isn’t denying how great it feels to win.

“Of course I’d love to win every meet I go to, but if I’m winning them with a quality I know that I am way better than, then it makes me feel like I’m not competing to my true potential,” Tausaga said. “It’s kind of a numbers game trying to be consistent and hitting those numbers, so that I know that I’m ready to go into a championship season and do some big things.”


Facebook Comments