On Iowa Daily Briefing 6.7.12 -- One more run for Iowa's Sowinski

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Yes, Jarrod Uthoff. We'll get to it below.

Right now, we're going to talk about a University of Iowa athlete who's literally running his last race in "black and gold." He's flown the colors for four seasons on a track, in relative anonymity. He deserves all of your positive energy 6:10 p.m. Friday at Drake Stadium.

Iowa senior Erik Sowinski found himself hemmed during his 800-meter prelim Wednesday in Des Moines. He sat in fourth with about 600 meters left in the race. It looked grim. It looked as though this might be it for one of Iowa's most decorated track athletes.

Sowinski, a native of Waukesha, Wis., turned on the turbo and won the prelim with an Iowa record 1:46.09 in the prelims.

He moved on to the 800 final and all-America status, Iowa's first runner to earn all-America three years in a row since Bashir Yamini accomplished the feat four times (1996-99). The race is scheduled for Friday at 6:10 p.m.

“I didn’t want that to be my last race for the black and gold,” Sowinski added. “I just dug deep and I found it.”

You know I don't get out much beyond Kinnick Stadium with UI athletes. I dropped in for a post on the UI men's golf team a couple of years ago. That program is on a rocket ride.

I do make it to some PCA meetings. That's the "Presidential Committee on Athletics." It's where athletics and academics come together. I always find the meetings fascinating. The topics are wide ranging. They take me at least a few steps away from Kinnick.

The PCA includes student representation. During a meeting last winter, Iowa AD Gary Barta congratulated Sowinksi on something -- maybe his third-place finish in the national indoor meet or maybe his Big Ten 800 crown or maybe it was another fantastic semester with the books. Sowinski, a five-time All-American in middle distance events,  has a 3.43 GPA with an integrative physiology major and a pharmacy interest.

I glanced over and saw a slightly built kid with tired eyes and a crazy bunch of brown, wavy hair. His response to Barta was perfectly earnest. I've tweeted with him a few times. The earnestness is genuine.

Today, the Big Ten announced the 2012 Medal of Honor winners, 24 honorees from 13 different sports. This from the Big Ten, "One of the most prestigious conference awards in college athletics, the Big Ten Medal of Honor was first awarded in 1915 to one student-athlete from the graduating class of each university who had 'attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.'"

Also, "The 12 institutions of the Big Ten Conference feature nearly 10,000 student-athletes, more than any other conference, and only 24 of those individuals are recognized each year with the Big Ten Medal of Honor. In the 98 years of the Medal of Honor, just over 1,300 student-athletes have earned this distinction."

Sowinski and McKenzie Melander, a track and cross country athlete, earned Iowa's medal of honor.

"It's been a helluva four years," Sowinski said after Wednesday's race.

One more race in the black and gold. Positive energy, 6:10 p.m., Friday, the Drake track.


What, is Jarrod Uthoff the Hawkeye story of the day? Of the week? Yes and yes. And so far, of the month.

-- Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com says Uthoff is now "the most talented walk-on in all of college basketball."

Parrish added this little nugget:

(Multiple coaches) felt Uthoff-to-Iowa was gonna happen no matter what, and that they never felt they had a legitimate chance to land him. One coach added he figures Uthoff has known he was going to Iowa since even before he publicly announced he was transferring from Wisconsin, which might be why Ryan was so bothered by the announcement in the first place.

-- There already has been a Uthoff from Cedar Rapids Jefferson who made a mark in college basketball. That was Dean Uthoff, who at 6-foot-11 is even taller than 6-8 Jarrod. Dean is Jarrod's cousin.

Jarrod is actually from Marengo, but transferrred to Jefferson after his freshman year at Iowa Valley High, and lived in Cedar Rapids with his sister, Erika, who is about 10 years older than him. He wanted to play basketball at a higher high school level, thus the move to his uncle's alma mater.

Dean played for Jefferson in the mid-1970s, then had a very productive career at Iowa State before embarking on a long professional career in Australia.

Check out Dean's career numbers for Iowa State: Averages of 11.5 points and 11.4 rebounds! He was the Big 8 Conference's leading rebounder four straight seasons and is ISU's all-time leading rebounder, obviously.

-- As a junior at Jefferson, Jarrod Uthoff was a first-team all-state player and -- ta da! -- KCRG/Gazette Communications boys’ basketball area player of the year.

He was Mr. Basketball in Iowa the following season, and the competiton was strong. You may recognize the name of a guard from Cedar Rapids Washington: Josh Oglesby. And, Linn-Mar junior Marcus Paige was the Mr. Basketball heir apparent who quite easily could have been given the award as a junior if Iowa was wont to give it to a junior. It isn't, by the way.

Not that Uthoff wasn't totally deserving. He averaged 26.2 points and 11.2 rebounds.

How's this for the Class 4A first-team all-state team of 2011:

Front line Adam Woodbury Sioux City East 7-1 Jr.

Front line Jarrod Uthoff Cedar Rapids Jefferson 6-8 Sr

Front line Kale Abrahamson West Des Moines Valley 6-7 Jr.

Back court Marcus Paige Linn-Mar 6-1 Jr.

Back court Matt Bohannon Linn-Mar 6-4 Sr.

Back court Wes Washpun Cedar Rapids Washington 6-1 Sr.

Utility Josh Oglesby Cedar Rapids Washington 6-5 Sr.

Woodbury, Oglesby and Uthoff will be Iowa teammates. Washpun and Bohannon will be Northern Iowa teammates. Paige is going to North Carolina, Abrahamson to Northwestern.

And this from Jim Polzin of the Wisconsin State Journal:

So how does Uthoff, an Iowa native who picked the Badgers over the Hawkeyes and others prior to his senior season in high school, know Iowa coach Fran McCaffery will accept him with open arms?

“I basically have to go off what they recruited me off of two years ago,” Uthoff said.

I'm no seer, no soothsayer, no reader of tea leaves. But something tells me -- call it a crazy hunch -- that McCaffery will somehow find a place on the Iowa roster for Uthoff.

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