Non-Rev Round Up: #HellerBall is Almost Back

By Jeremy Karll on February 1, 2018 at 8:55 am
Baseball is just around the corner.

Hawkeye Sports

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Baseball

Preseason predictions have started to come out, and Perfect Game picked Iowa to finish third in the Big Ten (39-22, 15-9) behind only Indiana and Nebraska. PG didn't predict which teams would make a NCAA Regional, but Iowa should feel very good about its chances if it is a 39-win team in the regular season.

While losing Jake Adams presents a problem for the Hawkeyes, PG expects Robert Neustrom to pick up some of the slack, naming him the Big Ten's Preseason Player of the Year. As a sophomore in 2017, Neustrom slashed a .310/.358/.486 line to go along with nine home runs and 55 RBIs. His 79 hits are 15 more than any other returning player, too. Brady Schanuel also was one of the four starting pitchers on the All-Conference team. He had a 1.83 ERA, while striking out 131 batters, in 83.2 innings last season at Parkland Community College. 

Rick Heller named Neustrom, Tyler Cropley, Nick Allgeyer and Kyle Shimp team captains, as well.

On Wednesday night, Heller made an appearance on the Todd Brommelkamp radio show. Here are a couple of noteworthy things he said:

  • Brady Schanuel was recently shut down for a week and a half due to soft tissue soreness in his shoulder. As a result, Heller said he'll start the season coming out of the bullpen because his pitch limit won't be enough to warrant him starting. This is obviously a huge loss as Schanuel was supposed to be the anchor of a rotation which even Heller admits is one of Iowa's biggest question marks heading into the season.
  • So who starts in place of Schanuel? Heller sounded like he'd be willing to give multiple pitchers a chance. However, if the season started today, Allgeyer and Cole McDonald, who threw a no-hitter at the World University Games, would be Iowa's top-two starting options. Closer Zach Daniels is also in the mix if Iowa doesn't have any save situations in its first two games because Heller wants to make sure his top arms in the bullpen see action in the first couple of weeks.
  • Heller said that Allgeyer is progressing well after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Since he hasn't pitched a lot over the past year, Heller expects him to experience "dead arm" in early-February and possibly arm fatigue. That said, he and the rest of the pitchers put Iowa City's unusually warm weather to use by pitching in scrimmages over the weekend.
  • Iowa's pitching looks to have the same issues as last season -- strong, deep bullpen but a lot of youth in the starting rotation. Heller also noted that Iowa needs to find a consistent answer at shortstop and third base after Mason McCoy graduated and Matt Hoeg moved to first. The loss of Adams will change Iowa's offense, too, as Heller thinks Iowa will rely more on smart base running and doubles rather than home runs.
  • Indiana is the consensus preseason favorite in the Big Ten, as it's starting the season ranked in the top-25 of most publications. Although Heller thinks many teams have a chance at a regular season title, including Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan. He told fans not to sleep on Illinois, either.

Track & Field

Iowa track & field had another successful weekend meet as it hosted the Black & Gold Premier meet. The Hawkeyes saw two school records fall as they took home eight event titles. Also, while both slightly moved down the rankings this week, the men are still No. 27 in the nation and the women are No. 31.

Both school records came in women's field events. Laulauga Tausaga, who broke a 33-year-old school record in shot put last week, topped her mark on Saturday afternoon. Her throw of 16.01 meters (52 feet, 6.5 inches) reset Iowa's shot put record, placing her seventh in the Big Ten this season. She also won the weight throw event title.

Iowa throwing coach Eric Werskey thinks the best might be still to come with Tausaga too: 

When Werskey took over as Iowa's throws coach in August, he knew Tausaga had high-end potential, but the past two meets have shown that she is only scratching the surface.
 
"I knew she was talented, but I didn't know to what degree, "Werksey said. "She can pick up anything and learn it quickly. That's a testament to her weight throw. She has the raw ability to be able to pick something up and make it go far. You can't teach that."

Jahisha Thomas finished second in triple jump, though she broke her own school record doing so. She jumped 13.11 meters (43 feet) to replace the record she set last year.

The women's only non-relay event title on the track came by Ashley Espinosa in the mile. She crossed the line in 5:12.42 to top teammates Kara Neustrom (5:19.40) and Mary Arch (5:23.18) who finished second and third, respectively.

That said, Iowa's most impressive race as a team came in the women's 400-meters. The Hawkeyes placed second-through-seventh as they were led by Sommer Sharpe (55.90), Sarah Plock (56.16) and Tashee Hargrave (56.21). Sharper and Hargrave teamed up with Kylie Morken and Kylie Welch to win the 4x400 (3:45.13) to end the meet. 

On the men's side, the meet was highlighted by a huge upset in the 60-meter hurdles. Aaron Mallett returned to Iowa City again but was upset by junior Chris Douglas, who won by 0.01 seconds. Douglas had been close to Mallett in recent weeks but always fell just short in the final until Saturday. He is now the leader in the Big Ten this season and eighth in the nation.

Antonio Woodard's 21.20-second 200-meter won him the race. It gives him the second best time in the Big Ten and 18th best among D-I runners. Collin Hofacker finished third (21.69) in 200-meters and 400-meters.

In field events, O'Shea Wilson won long jump (7.31 meters) and Reno Tuufuli won shot put (18.47 meters).

Upcoming: Meyo Invitational (FRI-SAT), Frank Sewigne Husker Invitational (SAT)

Swim & Dive

At the Shamrock Invitational in South Bend, Indiana, Iowa men's swim & dive took third out of five teams and the women finished fifth. Notre Dame won on both sides.

Jack Smith and Jerzy Twarowski swam NCAA 'B' Qualifying times. Smith took second in the 100-free (44.18) and Twarowski touched third (48.23) in the 100-butterfly to do so. The day wasn't over for Smith, though. He also took third in the 50-free (20.32) with Joe Myhre and Michal Brzus tying for fourth (20.42) and Will Scott (20.49) coming in sixth. Smith, Brzus, Myhre and Scott gave Iowa one of its best relay finishes, too, taking second in the 200-free relay (1:20.00). They finished just 0.60 seconds behind first. Smith, Myhre and Scott also swam alongside Matt Kamin in the 400-free relay, taking second (2:56.40).

Iowa had a couple of other individual swimmers finish top-five in multiple events, as well. Kenneth Mende had top-five finishes in the 100-backstroke (fourth) and 200-backstroke (second, 1:46.75). Also, Michael Tenney finished fourth in both the 200-butterfly (1:49.18) and 400-IM.

Iowa found its most success off the diving board. Matt Mouser took third on one-meter diving (316.40) while Anton Hoherz's 389.50 points earned him second on three-meter diving. Even on the women's side, Jayah Mathews took third off of both heights, scoring 295.55 points on one-meter and 288.30 points on three-meters.

In the pool, Hannah Burvill continued her stellar season with a seven-place finish in 100-free (50.61) and 13th-place finish in 500-free. Shea Hoyt had the best individual finish among Iowa's women swimmers, though, as she took fourth in 200-backstroke (2:18.96). She only was 0.05 seconds away from placing in third.

Upcoming: Western Illinois (SAT)

Tennis

Over the weekend, Iowa men's tennis (1-3) traveled to Athens, Georgia, to take part in the ITA Kickoff, but it ran into two very tough teams. The Hawkeyes started the weekend with a 4-0 loss to No. 4 Georgia. While the Hawkeyes didn't win a set in singles play, they did force two doubles matches into a tiebreak.

The week concluded with a closer match. However, Iowa still lost, 4-3, to No. 38 Arkansas. Jonas Larsen/Kareem Allaf, and Will Davies/Piotr Smietona each won their doubles match to give Iowa the doubles points. The Hawkeyes couldn't take three singles matches, though, as only Smietona and Joe Tyler defeated Arkansas players.

Upcoming: @Miami (SUN)

The women (3-1) had better luck on their trip to Missoula, Montana. The Hawkeyes started the weekend by defeating the host, Montana, 6-1. Along with winning both doubles matches, Iowa's top-five singles players didn't drop a set. Yufei Long's 6-1, 6-1 beating of Natalie Joanlanne, and Zoe Douglas defeating Cam Kincaid 6-2, 6-3 were the most impressive wins of the match.

Long and Douglas stayed perfect during Iowa's 5-2 loss against Washington State as the Hawkeyes also dropped the doubles point. Douglas and Guzal Yusupova played a very close match before Douglas won 7-6, 7-6, and Long handily defeated Tiffany Mylonas 6-4, 6-1.

Upcoming: @North Texas (SAT), @SMU (SUN)

Gymnastics

Iowa men's gymnastics dropped to No. 10 in the country after falling to No. 6 Minnesota, 405.900-395.450. Despite setting season-highs in two events and winning two individual event titles, the Hawkeyes dropped their first Big Ten meet of the season.

Iowa's success on pommel horse continued as Austin Hodges (14.100) and Kevin Johnson (13.750) finished first and second, respectively. However, Bennet Huang had arguably the most impressive meet. The freshman took second on floor (13.900) and fifth on vault (14.100), culminating in a second-place finish in all-around (77.300). Huang's team-high on vault helped Iowa score a season-best 69.400 points.

Iowa also set a season-high on rings, scoring 65.500 points. Jake Brodarzon led the way as his 13.750 points is a career-high. On parallel bars, Rogelio Vazquez (13.550) finished third, while he also took fourth on high bar (13.600).

Upcoming: #3 Illinois (SAT)

On Thursday, Iowa women's gymnastics won their third straight Big Ten meet to start the conference season. The Hawkeyes dominated in all events to beat Maryland, 196.000-193.350.

Charlotte Sullivan dominated in nearly every event. She won an event title on bars (9.875), with Nicole Chow finishing third (9.825), and finished behind only Maria Ortiz (9.825) on vault (9.800). Nikki Youd took third on vault, as well, to give Iowa its first 1-2-3 finish of the night.

On floor, Lanie Snyder (9.900) and Melissa Zurawski (9.850) placed first and third, respectively. The Hawkeyes had its most success in the final event of the night -- beam. Chow, who finished third in all-around, scored an incredible 9.900 points to win on beam, while Youd (9.850) finished second, and Sullivan and Rose Piorkowski tied for third (9.825). Helped by top-three finishes in three events, Sullivan won all-around for a second straight week, scoring 39.300 points.

Upcoming: @Illinois (FRI)

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