Incoming Hawkeye track and field recruiting class provides depth to already strong program

The 2020 recruiting class is composed of top athletes from across the country and many who are looking to become breakout stars after flying under the radar in high school.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody coaches from the infield during the 4x400m relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational at the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Jan. 18, 2020.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

The 2021 season is set to be a big one for the Iowa men’s track and field team as it looks to defend its Big Ten outdoor title and capture the program’s first Big Ten Indoor Championship since 1963.

The coaching staff has brought in 21 new recruits to join the already talented team. The class is composed of three throwers, seven distance runners, three mid-distance runners, six sprinters, and two hurdlers in order to help the Hawkeye grab some hardware next season.

Director of Iowa Track and Field Joey Woody, who has been in this position with Iowa since 2014, said that he feels this recruiting class for the Hawkeyes is the best that he has ever had.

“All of our coaches did a really good job of recruiting a lot of talent throughout all of the different event groups,” Woody said. “The depth is probably the best we have ever had and the talent level of some of our elite recruits that we were able to sign before their senior seasons are some of the best in the country.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic sending schools online and ending sports across the country, senior track and field athletes were not able to display their growth in a final season of competition.

According to Woody, many of the recruits coming to Iowa flew under the radar, unnoticed by other top schools. Those athletes didn’t have the opportunity to show the strides they had made in the offseason.

“Jenoah McKiver is a 200/400 runner, and I think he was really on the verge of having a breakout senior year,” Woody said. “Everett Steward is also another recruit we have picked up late in the year, and he has run 47 seconds multiple times in the 400, but we see him more as a 600 indoor [and an] 800 athlete down the road.”

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The Hawkeyes have three distance runners in Ian Geisler, Max Murphy, and Kal Lewis who are looking to make an immediate impact for the team this upcoming season.

“All three of those guys had a really good cross-country season their senior year,” Woody said. “Ian is a guy who is capable of being a sub 4:10 miler, I think Kal is the same, and Max has great potential in the longer races.”

The Hawkeyes recruited six sprinters in total to the roster this year, however, Austin Kresley is the sole short sprinter in Iowa’s 20 class.

The Oakley, California, native is a former football player and a graduate of the IMG Academy in Florida.

“He ended up running a 60-meter dash outdoors and that kind of opened our eyes to what he was capable of doing, and then he opened his outdoor season on a 200 with a huge PR,” Woody said. “If you look at the history of our team, especially in recent years, we have not had a big group of short sprinters, but we have had a really solid group of short sprinters.”

Other notable recruits to look out for on the track this year include Josh Duvall in the 400-meter dash, Khullen Jefferson in the long sprint events, Jason Hoffman, who is one of the best 800-meter athletes out of the state of Illinois, and Martin Strong who split 1:50 flat in the 4×800-meter dash as a junior in high school and is one of the best 800-meter runners in the country.

The individual standout performances in field events have mainly come from the women’s side with the success of six-time All-American star Laulauga Tausaga. However, Woody said that this incoming recruiting class has some field athletes that are ready to make a name for themselves right out of the gate.

“Elijah Barnes is really a tremendous thrower for us, and I think he is going to contribute right away this year in all of the throwing events,” Woody said. “Kaleba Jack is actually a long jumper from right over at City High in town, and he just started doing track as a junior and ended up being one of the best long jumpers in the state.”

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