Iowa track notebook | Iowa distance squad opens outdoor season before team splits up for weekend events

The distance runners are at the Raleigh Relays, and the rest of the squad has dispersed to compete in five different events.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s freshman Max Murphy set a personal best and etched himself third in Iowa history with a time of 7:59.296. Murphy finished 4th overall during the Hawkeye B1G Invitational track meet at the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Saturday, Feb. 13 , 2021.

Colin Votzmeyer, Sports Reporter

The Iowa track and field team returns to action this week after reserving last weekend for the distance squad.

While the other athletes rested, the Iowa distance runners opened their outdoor season with the North Carolina State-hosted Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, North Carolina, from March 23-25.

Two Hawkeyes ranked second in the West Region at the completion of the 1,500-meter race — Junior Amber Aesoph finished 17th out of 185 runners in the women’s side of the event with a personal-record 4:21.11 that puts her seventh all-time at Iowa, and sophomore Max Murphy finished 15th out of nearly 200 runners on the men’s side with a 3:43.81.

“Obviously, Max had a good opener, and Amber had a tremendous opener in the 1500 … so I’m excited to see where she can go with that,” Iowa distance coach Randy Hasenbank said. “But really, our goal for all these kids is to position ourselves to battle for the conference titles [and] get them in positions to score points.”

Iowa sophomore Yohana Yual finished 38th in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a personal-record 9:13.43 — taking advantage of Raleigh’s 80-degree weather as Iowa’s outdoor water jumps are still frozen at the outdoor track in Iowa City. Junior Nick Trattner followed with a personal-best 14:14.91 for a 54th-place finish in the men’s 5,000-meter race.

“That’s what it’s all about, leaving the Midwest this time of year to find better racing conditions,” Hasenbank said. “For the most part, everybody took advantage of that.”

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches’ Association ranks the Iowa women’s team 14th in the nation and men’s team 15th.

Hawkeyes across the country

This weekend, the Iowa track and field team will split across the U.S.

The distance runners will return to action in California at the Stanford-hosted Stanford Invite in Palo Alto from March 31-April 1. There, Iowa senior Maddie Block will run the 10,000-meter race, and Murphy will run the 5,000-meter race, which Hasenbank said is his best race distance.

“I know he has high expectations, and I think he’s going to have a great race,” Hasenbank said. “He looks pretty good, and he’s healthy, and things are moving in the right direction, so I’m looking forward to that.”

Those not invited to Stanford will attend the San Francisco State-hosted Mike Fanelli Track Classic in San Francisco from March 30-April 1. There, junior Kelli Tosic, senior Emma Gordon, and junior Brooke McKee will run the 5,000-meter race.

Hasenbank’s overall focus for the weekend is to replicate the good races, prepare the team for the Big Ten Outdoor Championships from May 12-14, and shoot to make it through the NCAA West Preliminary on May 24-27.

The long sprinters and mid-distance runners will head east for the Florida-hosted Florida Relays in Gainesville on March 31-April 1 where the 400-meter and 800-meter runners will open their outdoor seasons.

“The competition is going to be really good, and the weather’s going to be nice,” Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody said. “The goal is to put up some good early-season marks … I feel good about where that group’s at [and] excited for them to kind of kick off their outdoor season.”

The short sprinters, jumpers, and throwers will continue their competitions down south in a divide between Texas at the Texas-hosted Texas Relays in Austin — the site of the NCAA Outdoor Championships — and Texas State-hosted Bobcat Invitational in San Marcos on March 30-April 1.

Freshman throwers Lizzie Korczak and Mike Stein will compete in the javelin after breakout openings to their seasons at the Hurricane Invitational on March 17-18, but Iowa throws coach Ray Robinson is looking for senior throwers Kat Moody, Jordan Johnson, and Amanda Howe to have big weekends as well.

“The people that are in Texas State, it’s to [get a personal record] and start to put themselves in that upper echelon, so we have some talent down there; they can do it,” Robinson said. “Then the Texas group … Anyone we have making a final here … is doing really, really well, so that’s the big key is getting that super high-end meet experience.”