With the return of college baseball on Friday, the Big Ten's coaches voted on the top-six teams in the conference. Unsurprisingly, Indiana was No. 1, but it was followed by Nebraska, Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan and Iowa. This is the lowest ranking the Hawkeyes have received so far, though the next five teams after Indiana are evenly-matched and extremely hard to pick.
The Big Ten also named three players from each team to its Preseason Honors list. Zach Daniels, who I wrote more on earlier this week, Tyler Cropley and Robert Neustrom, who made the list last year, too, were Iowa's recipients.
Iowa starts its season on Friday against Toledo in Florida as part of the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic Series.
Track & Field
For the second straight week, Iowa track & field split up. Part of the team competed at the Iowa State Classic, while others went to the Tyson Invitational hosted by Arkansas.
At the Iowa State Classic, Antonio Woodard (21.27) ran extremely well in 200-meters, placing second. To end the meet, Kylie Marken, Addie Swanson, Mallory King and Tia Saunders took third in the 4x400, crossing the line in 3:50.25.
In Arkansas, Brianna Guillory (23.26) continued her dominance in 200-meters with a fourth-place finish, though she was just 0.01 seconds away from third. She also teamed up with Sommer Sharpe, Brittany Brown and Sheridan Champe (3:34.34) to take fourth in the 4x400. Despite the fourth-place finish, their time easily put them second in the program's indoor history.
Jahisha Thomas had herself a day, too. She placed second in long jump (6.23 meters) and third in triple jump (12.62 meters). Also in field events, Laulauga Tausaga came close to taking home two event titles. Although, she settled for second in both shot put (16.51 meters) and weight throw (19.59 meters). Reno Tuufuli also had success in shot put on the men's side, finishing fourth with a throw of 17.67 meters.
However, Iowa's best event of the meet came in the men's 200-meters. Mar'yea Harris (21.34) led Iowa with a third-place finish, though Colin Hofacker (21.36) and Bradford Garron (21.38) were right behind him in fourth and fifth, respectively. Harris also came in fifth in 400-meters, crossing the line in 46.17 seconds. Chris Douglas is one of the best 60-meter hurdlers in the country, and he again proved why. Douglas' (7.81) third-place finish was just 0.02 seconds away from second.
The meet concluded with another successful 4x400 relay. Hofacker, Dejuan Frye, Garron and Harris took third, crossing the line in 3:06.06.
Upcoming: Alex Wilson Invitational (SAT)
Trying for its first winning season since 2013, Iowa softball started its season in Louisiana as part of the Mardi Gras Tournament. The start of the tournament went well, as Allison Doocy (1-0) pitched a complete game shutout en route to a 3-0 Iowa win over UIC. Doocy struck out eight batters, and Aralee Bogar's 2-for-3 day gave her some run support. Bogar also scored the first run of the season off of a Angela Schmiederer single in the third.
After an impressive season-opening victory, Iowa fell flat on its face. It started with a 4-2 loss to Eastern Illinois. Starter Lauren Shaw (0-1) allowed three earned runs in 2.2 innings, allowing EIU to jump out to a 4-0 lead after three innings. Kenzie Ihle and Erin Riding didn't allow a run in 4.1 innings of work, but the damage was already done. Mallory Kilian was the only Hawkeye to record multiple hits.
Then UIC got its revenge, beating Iowa 6-4. Shaw (0-2) started again, surrendering three earned runs in 5.1 innings. Her strong start helped Iowa lead 4-0 through three, also thanks to Allie Wood's two-run home run in the third -- Iowa's first of the season. However, two errors haunted Iowa as it gave up three unearned runs, and six runs overall, in the sixth inning.
The tournament ended with Iowa being one-hit by UL-Lafayette, losing 9-0. Doocy (1-1) struggled, though Iowa's lack of defense didn't help either. In four innings, UL-Lafayette scored four earned runs (eight runs total) off nine hits.
Upcoming: Texas A&M Invitational
Iowa's 10th-ranked men's gymnastics traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, on Saturday to take on the top-ranked Sooners. Despite a 418.850-402.850 loss, the Hawkeyes had a couple of individual event titles, season-bests on two events, and had their highest team score of the season.
Austin Hodges and Bennet Huang helped Iowa score a season-high 67.850 points on pommel horse. Hodges won the event, scoring 14.350 points, while Huang (14.000) came in third. Huang led the Hawkeyes in the next event, too. His 14.200 points on floor was good enough for fourth, as Addison Chung (13.700) finished in fifth.
Chung (14.150) also finished fifth on vault, as Dylan Ellsworth (14.200) led the team with a fourth-place finish. Despite not having any top-three finishers, Iowa's 70.200 points was its best of the season on vault. However, the meet started to get away from Iowa in the second half as it only had one top-five finisher on rings and parallel bar.
That said, Iowa still found success on high bar. Hodges (13.900) notched a third-place finish, with Rogelio Vazquez (13.850) finishing right behind him in fourth. While Iowa didn't have the result it wanted, Huang showed why he's one of the best freshman in the conference, winning all-around with 77.850 points.
Huang's excellent freshman year earned him an invite to the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas this week. He will be joined by Nick Merryman and Ellsworth as they'll compete to make the U.S. Men's Senior National Team.
Upcoming: Winter Cup Challenge (THU, SAT), Nebraska (FEB 23)
In front of a record home crowd, Iowa women's gymnastics battled No. 8 Nebraska tough, though ultimately lost, 195.675-194.900. The Hawkeyes didn't have any event titles, but Nicole Chow (9.800) started the meet with a second-place finish on vault, followed by Nikki Youd (9.875) finishing second on beam. Iowa had top-three finishes to end the meet by Melissa Zurawski (9.825) on bars and Lanie Snyder (9.850) on floor.
Also, for the fourth straight week, Charlotte Sullivan finished top-two in all-around. Her 38.525 points were good enough for second, as Chow took third, scoring 38.425 points.
Thank you to all our fans who came out to the meet today and helped break our program attendance record. We love you and are so thankful for your support! #Hawkeyes #FightForIowa pic.twitter.com/aH85LxIGZr— Iowa Gymnastics (@IowaGymnastics) February 11, 2018
Upcoming: Ball State (FRI)
Iowa men's tennis (3-5) had a three-match week, starting with a 4-1 road loss to Drake. Piotr Smietana and Will Davies won their doubles match, but Iowa dropped its other two doubles matches to lose the doubles point. Davies notched Iowa's only singles win of the night, too. He defeated Ben Wood 6-2, 6-4.
Iowa's doubleheader on Sunday went better, though. It started with a 4-1 win over Arizona. After sweeping the doubles point, Smietana, Joe Tyler and Kareem Allaf each won in straight sets to secure the match.
To end the day, Iowa dropped only one set all match in its shutout win over IUPUI, 7-0. The fewest games dropped in singles play went to Jason Kerst, who easily handled Grant Esposito 6-0, 6-1, and Smietana's 6-1, 6-2 win over Jac Newis.
Upcoming: Creighton/Denver (FRI)
Iowa men's golf traveled to Florida last week to take part in Big Ten Match Day, finishing ninth after two days of play. The weekend started with a 4.5-1.5 loss to Purdue, as the Boilermakers shot 25 birdies and three eagles compared to Iowa's 17 birdies. Matthew Walker's win over Timmy Hildebrand was Iowa's only head-to-head win of the match. The day concluded with Iowa losing 4-2 to Minnesota. Benton Weinberg and Alex Moorman picked up individual wins for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa fared much better on day two, picking up a dominating 6-0 win over Ohio State. Five of its six golfers never trailed, shooting their way into the ninth-place game against Maryland. The Terrapins put up a better fight than Ohio State, but eventually lost to Iowa, 4-2. Moorman had arguably the best match as he never trailed, but Iowa's top-five golfers all notched wins.
Upcoming: Southern Intercollegiate (MAR 12)
- Iowa women's swim & dive is currently competing at the Big Ten Championships.
- Rowing traveled to Texas for scrimmages against Old Dominion and SMU over the weekend.
- Freshman field hockey player, Maddy Murphy, played for Australia in the 2018 Women's Indoor World Cup in Berlin. She scored a goal in the opening game, helping Australia finish sixth.