The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa track and field gears up for a quartet of consecutive indoor home meets

The program will honor legendary coaches Jimmy Grant and Larry Wieczorek in two of four home meets.
Grace Smith
Iowa’s Chloe Larsen runs during the Jimmy Grant Alumni Invitational at the Hawkeye Indoor Track Facility on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. The Hawkeyes hosted Western Illinois and Wisconsin, competing in events including the pentathlon, weight throwing, field events, and various running events at the indoor track.

The Iowa track and field programs will begin their indoor competition season with four consecutive meets at the Hawkeye Indoor Track Facility.

On Dec. 9, the Jimmy Grant Alumni Invitational kicked off the indoor home campaign.

During the meet, fourth-year sprinter Kalen Walker improved his own 2022 school record in the 60-meter race with a time of 6.59. Decorated third-year hurdler Paige Magee tied the 60-meter hurdles school record set by Myreanna Bebe with a time of 8.07.

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody noted the athletes were competing for the namesake of the meet: the late Jimmy Grant.

“We love to honor coach Jimmy Grant and what he did for women’s track and cross county here at Iowa,” Woody said. “We are fortunate to honor and represent him.”

Grant was a head women’s track and field coach at Iowa for 12 years and an assistant coach for 11 years. In 2007, he lost a two-year battle with cancer.

Grant coached one NCAA champion, 15 all-Americans, and 26 Big Ten champions. Thirty school records were set by athletes under Grant.

As an athlete himself, Grant was a two-year captain of Eastern Michigan’s track and field team. Throughout his time there, he earned all-American honors in various mid-distance events. In 1991, he was inducted into the Eastern Michigan Hall of Fame.

Following the Jimmy Grant Alumni Invitational and a four-week break, Iowa will resume competition at the Hawkeye Invitational on Jan. 13.

Woody believes the break will be transformative for his athletes.

“I always say winter break is where you determine what kind of athlete you are going to be,” Woody said. “The true calling is to see where we are after break when we come back in January.”

For the athletes, the home meets after winter break will be a sense of comfort and community.

“We have home field advantage,” redshirt second-year mid-distance runner Chloe Larsen said. “We are here every day. We know what the curves feel like. And it’s also a bonus having a lot of families and fans who are able to come.”

Second-year sprinter Holly Duax agreed, indicating the Iowa atmosphere affects the team chemistry.

“It’s really beneficial to have everyone together as a Hawkeye community,” Duax said.

The third home meet of the indoor season will be the Larry Wieczorek Invitational & Multi held on Jan. 13. The meet will honor Wieczorek’s achievements as a longtime contributor to Hawkeye success.

In 2014, Wieczorek retired from his position as Iowa’s director of track and field and cross country. Now, Wieczorek still has a hand in Iowa athletics and often gives pointers to the Iowa track and field teams.

“[Wieczorek] is still around a lot and a big part of our program,” Woody said. “The kids get a chance to interact with him quite a bit.”

Throughout his career, Wieczorek was named 2011 Big Ten and USTFCCCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year.

Wieczorek was a student-athlete himself at the University of Iowa. In 1998, he was honored for his achievements in the National Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame. His biggest accomplishments included being named a six-time Big Ten Conference champion and a four-time all-American distance runner.

“Honoring them adds some extra fuel to the fire,” fourth-year hurdler Gratt Reed said. “It has a deeper connection and deeper meaning to why we are out here competing.”

Iowa’s final home meet of the indoor season will be the Black and Gold Invitational on Jan. 27.

With a busy travel schedule ahead, the Hawkeyes look forward to taking advantage of their final race in front of their home crowd.

“It takes the pressure off because we are focused on the meet itself,” Duax said. “It’s comforting to come to the same place you practice at every day.”

Likewise, Woody is going to cherish every moment he gets to see his athletes perform in Iowa City.

“It’s always great to wear that Iowa uniform in front of the hometown crowd and compete against some great competition,” Woody said.

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About the Contributors
Mia Boulton
Mia Boulton, Sports Reporter
Mia Boulton is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication, as well as exploring a possible double major in Sports Media. She works at the Daily Iowan as a sports reporter. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Mia has been a photographer for her hometown newspaper, The Record.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.