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Track and field ... by the numbers
Ogden column: Numbers can be boring, but Iowa, ISU and UNI all have great numbers on their teams
Write about people, not numbers. Numbers, rankings and stats can be kind of boring.
That’s something I’ve often advised young journalists during past visits to area high schools — a task I need to rekindle.
But today, I put that advice aside because, sometimes, numbers tell a story that can be interesting to decipher. Especially when you’re looking at a not-so-mainstream sport like track and field.
Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa all kick of their postseason Friday at the Big Ten, Big 12 and Missouri Valley conference championships, respectively.
In the latest USTFCCCA rankings — yes, that’s a mouthful and stands for U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association — the Hawkeye men’s team is ranked No. 9 in the country.
That is tops in the state, tops in the Big Ten. Arkansas, for what it’s worth, is the No. 1 team in the country under the direction of former UNI head coach Chris Bucknam.
The Iowa women are not among the Top 25 teams in the nation, but rank second to Nebraska in the Big Ten.
That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment for director of track and field/cross country Joey Woody, who has lifted the men’s program into a perennial Big Ten contender and has worked hard to do the same with the women’s program.
In the Big Ten, the Iowa men have an “index rating” of 916.71 — not sure what that number means other than it has something to do with individual performances. Nebraska is second in the Big Ten at 833.38, so the Hawkeyes should be heavy favorites to win this weekend’s outdoor championships for the third time in Woody’s nine seasons.
The women’s team has an index rating of 698.32, which ranks a distant second to the Cornhuskers. Still, the women, according to the numbers, are poised to have their best finish ever. The previous high is third, something it accomplished last in 2019 (and 2018).
Here are some other numbers to digest ahead of the Big Ten meet.
* Fifteen Hawkeyes have set 14 outdoor school records this spring, including Austin Kresley (10.10 seconds) and LaSarah Hargrove (11.20) in the 100 meters, Kresley in the 200 (20.32), Jenoah McKiver in the 400, Max Murphy in the 1,500 (3:40.63) and 5,000 (13:39.77) and Amanda Howe in the hammer throw (212-9).
* Austin West set a school record in the decathlon and is ranked third nationally with 8,038 points.
It’s across the board, men and women, field and track.
And that’s just at Iowa.
Iowa State and UNI have put up good numbers, too.
Both Cyclone teams rank fourth in the Big 12 index rankings and the Panther men are second to Indiana State in the MVC. The UNI women are fourth.
So what do all these numbers tell us? It’s simple. If you’re a track and field fan in this state, you’ve got plenty to feel good about.
Sit back and enjoy this weekend.
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