Iowa track and field set to compete at 2021 Big Ten Outdoor Championships

The Hawkeye men enter this weekend’s competition in search of their fifth Big Ten Outdoor title, while the Iowa women look for their first.


Jerod Ringwald

Minnesota’s Ben Psicihulis leads Iowa’s Austin Lietz and company. Psicihulis won the men’s 600-meter premier run with a time of 24.10 Lietz finished second with a time of 24.262 seconds during the Hawkeye B1G Invitational track meet at the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Saturday, Feb. 13 , 2021.

Lauren Swanson, Sports Reporter

The University of Iowa track and field teams will travel to Champaign, Illinois, this weekend to compete at the 2021 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Competition begins Friday at 11 a.m. with the 100-meter portion of the decathlon and wraps up Sunday with the men’s and women’s 1600-meter relays at 3:33 p.m.

The Hawkeye men’s track and field team enters this weekend’s Big Ten Championships ranked 21st in the nation per the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Rating Index.

As of May 10, the Iowa women clock in at No. 30 on the USTFCCCA Rating Index.

The Hawkeyes are ranked in nine USTFCCCA individual events. The UI is home to the country’s top-ranked women’s discus and men’s 110-meter hurdles squads, and the No. 2 men’s discus, No. 3 men’s and women’s 400-meter hurdles, No. 7 men’s long jump, and No. 8 women’s hammer throw and men’s 800-meter teams.

The Iowa women’s track and field team has never won a Big Ten Outdoor Championship, though the Hawkeyes have placed third in their last four conference championship appearances.

The Hawkeye men have finished first at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships on four occasions: 1963, 1967, 2011, and 2019.

Senior Austin Lietz will be competing in the 400-meter hurdles and the 4×400 relay in Champaign this weekend.

After 2020 NCAA spring sports were canceled because of COVID-19, all spring sports athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA. This season, Lietz has utilized the opportunity the NCAA gave him to compete in the Black and Gold again.

“I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to compete again after last season’s cancellation,” Lietz said. “With last year’s season taken away, I learned how much I missed competing. This thought has stayed with me through preseason training all the way through to competitions — it has really helped me stay motivated and focused on my goals.”

Lietz can return to Iowa for the 2021-22 season if he chooses to do so, as the NCAA is not counting the 2020-21 season toward athletes’ total eligibility.

After five years with the Hawkeyes, Lietz has some wisdom he’d like to give Iowa’s younger athletes.

“I have many little tidbits for up-and-coming athletes, but I’ll include just one for now,” Lietz said. “Like Malcolm Gladwell says, the best way to get better at anything is putting in your 10,000 hours. For an athlete, this can come in many ways: watching film, practicing, analyzing practice reps, analyzing competition reps, and so on.

“But I think it extends to off the track too,” Lietz added. “Being an athlete is more than just the physical performance — it is the preparation, the rehabilitation, and the recovery. So, for those younger student-athletes, I’d say there are many ways to get your 10,000 hours. Whether it be getting better sleep, cleaning up your diet, drinking more water, stretching, practicing with intent, and so many more.”

The 2021 Big Ten Outdoor Championships will be streamed live on BTN+ throughout this weekend.