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This has been a season of firsts for the University of Iowa men’s track and field program.
The obvious firsts are the two Big Ten Conference titles — indoor in February and a second-straight outdoor in May — the first time that has happened since 1963.
Now it’s time for the NCAA Outdoor Championships and, again, the 15th-ranked Hawkeyes are trending up, eyeing a top-10 finish for the first time since 1932.
“We expect to be a top-10 team consistently and we need to make sure everybody has the mindset to go out and execute,” Iowa director of track Joey Woody said. “If we’re scoring 20-plus points you have a real shot at being top 10 and that really only takes a couple of events if you do it right.
“We just have to punch our ticket to the finals. That’s the big thing.”
The men qualified in 10 events — seven individuals in eight races and two relays — tying a program record. The women have four individuals in three events.
The Hawkeyes also have qualified a “complete team” to the championships, meaning Iowa has athletes in the sprints, hurdles, distance races, jumps, throws, multi events and relays.
The championships begin a four-day run Wednesday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
While the men’s program has made the biggest splash in 2021, the Hawkeye women’s team may have the star of the weekend.
Laulauga Tausaga, the Midwest Region Field Athlete of the Year for the fourth time in her career, will compete in the shot put and discus this week. She was a regional winner in the shot and is the defending national discus champion.
The men’s team will be led by Jaylan McConico in the 110 high hurdles and 400 relay; Wayne Lawrence, Jr. in the 400-meter dash and 1,600 relay; and Jamal Britt, the only entrant in both hurdle races (110 and 400).
McConico won the 110 hurdles at the Big Ten and regional meets.
Other Iowa men in the field are James Carter in the long jump, Will Daniels and Austin West in the decathlon and Nathan Mylenek in the 3,000 steeplechase.
Other Iowa women competing this week are Serena Brown in the discus, Jenny Kimbro in the heptathlon and Kat Moody in the shot put.
Iowa State has nine men and one woman competing in Eugene, including Wesley Kiptoo, the Midwest Region men’s track athlete of the year.
Kiptoo, also the Big 12 performer of the year, qualified in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter runs.
The Cyclones have three men in the 800 — Jason Gomez, Festus Lagat and Alex Lomong. Eric Fogltanz will compete in the 400 hurdles, David Too in the steeplechase, Scott Fuchs in the javelin, Edwin Kurgat in the 10,000 and Vlad Pavlenko in hammer throw.
Cailie Logue will run the 10,000 for the ISU women.
UNI’s only qualifier is Darius King in the men’s shot put.
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