The last time Iowa men's track and field won a conference title, Popeye the Sailor was making his comic debut, the Academy Awards were being held for the first time, and Georgia Tech was winning a College Football National title, besting Cal 8-7. That's right, the last conference title for men's track and field came in 1929 -- at least until this past weekend when the Hawkeyes brought home a Big Ten Championship.
It's a remarkable accomplishment for a program that has been on the rise in recent years and made even more so given the circumstances this year. Congrats to Joey Woody and all of the Hawkeye athletes.
The other stars of the season has been the women's gymnastics squad and they continued their dynamite season, winning the Big Five meet, clinching their first ever Big Ten regular season title, and completing their undefeated regular season. A huge congratulations is in order for the entire team and staff who have been stars throughout the season. We'll dive into the specifics below, but the team has continued to set career highs week in and week out and will no doubt make noise on the national stage in the coming weeks.
Track and Field
- Like I mentioned at the top, the men's team brought home their first Big Ten title in over 90 years over the weekend, scoring a school-record 119 points at the Big Ten Conference Championships. The women's team secured their all-time highest finish as well, placing third.
- Three Hawkeyes won gold at the Championships: Peyton Haack in the heptathlon, James Carter Jr. in the long jump, and Paige Magee for the women in the 60-meter hurdles. Four other Hawkeyes won silver medals: Wayne Lawernce Jr. (400 meters, 200 meters), Eavion Richardson (triple jump), Gratt Reed (60 meter hurdles), and Alec Still (800 meters), along with the 4x400 relay team. Six Iowa athletes brought home bronze medals.
- Magee won her event with a career-best time of 8.26 seconds.
- The men's side truly dominated the weekend, topping the next closest team by 36 points. The team had shown flashes throughout the season that gave you hope that they would be able to come away with the title that had been so close over the past few years (they finished 2nd last year) and watching them get over the hump in such convincing fashion was a great fan experience.
- Director Joey Woody has built the team into a perennial contender, nationally ranked and continuing to improve. He's got a great attitude and the energy around the team is palpable. He was pleased with the win over the weekend, but called their 36-point win "too close for me." That's the kinda guy you want in charge. Congrats again to the entire men's track and field team.
- The Women's Gymnastics team had an extraordinary accomplishment of their own this weekend, winning the Big Ten's Big Five meet over #5 Michigan, #30 Penn State, and #43 Rutgers. Their victory completed Iowa's perfect 8-0 season in conference and earned their first ever Big Ten regular season championship.
- Iowa set their season-high on the vault, 49.200, on the back of JerQuavia Henderson's career-best (and 9th all-time in Iowa history) 9.925. Three other Hawks also set career bests in the event.
- On the beam, Clair Kaji tied for first with a score of 9.950, part of the Hawk's 48.575 event total. Kaji's score tied a career-best and equaled the second-best score in Hawkeye history.
- On the bars, Adeline Kenlin set a career-high 9.900. The team totaled 49.000 in the event. The team seems to be setting new career bests on a weekly basis, a testament to strong coaching and commitment from the women. They're continuing to push themselves even as they accomplish their goals week in and week out.
- The floor, where Iowa was ranked #1 nationally coming into the weekend, continues to be the team's best event. They scored 49.375 and Lauren Guerin won the event with a 9.900. Three Hawks tied for second place.
B1G 5 MEET!— Iowa Gymnastics (@IowaGymnastics) February 28, 2021
Highlights from our victorious afternoon in Ann Arbor!https://t.co/eD62aPlqES
- Adeline Kenlin's career-best performance on the vault and bars earned her Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors
- The regular season championship caps off an amazing run for the women. They have achieved and overachieved week in and week out. Perfection means no bad days, no lapses in focus. To accomplish that in a conference as competitive as the Big Ten is extraordinary.
- The Iowa women's swimming team took part in the conference championships over the weekend. While the team finished in eighth, there were multiple strong individual performances.
- Freshman Alyssa Graves competed in the finals of the 1,650 freestyle event, finishing 11th. The placement doesn't tell the whole story, however, as her time was strong enough for 2nd-best in school history.
- Anna Brooker secured the 8th-best 200 backstroke time in Iowa history with her performance over the weekend, besting her previous season-best by more than five seconds.
- The NCAA championships are scheduled for March 17-20th.
- The Hawkeye volleyball team split a pair of matches over the weekend against Northwestern, robbing both me and my brother (who assists with the Wildcat volleyball team) of complete bragging rights.
- The Hawks won Friday's match 3-2. They jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but both sets were hard-fought. Set two ended 39-37, a Big Ten record for combined points in a set in a conference match. Iowa gave up the next two, before pulling away to claim the decisive fifth set 15-11. Courtney Buzzerio continued her do-it-all season, racking up 14 kills, 21 assists, and eight digs. It was a gritty performance by the Hawks and a good show of mental strength to finish out a match after giving up a 2-0 lead.
- Saturday's match was again a back-and-forth affair, with each team claiming one of the first two sets. The Hawks easily took set three 25-12, but were unable to put the match away and dropped the final two sets.
- You could see whatever you wanted from the Hawkeyes performance over the weekend. They fought and pulled out a tough match Friday and looked primed to do so again Saturday. Unfortunately, they still lack some of the killer instinct needed to put a team away when they have a chance and gave Northwestern a few too many opportunities to hang around, and eventually, capitalize.
- Iowa's match against Wisconsin this upcoming weekend has been postponed due to Covid issues within the Badger program
- The men's tennis team secured a 5-2 victory over Nebraska this past week, improving their record to 3-0 in conference.
- The women's team also won last week, besting Purdue 6-1. Alexa Noel continued her undefeated season with a two-set singles victory.
- The men's next match is scheduled for March 5th against Illinois, while the women will be back in action March 5th against Penn State.
- Iowa softball kicked off their season last week, posting a 2-4 record, with wins over Michigan and Ohio State.
- The team is down in Florida during the first part of the season and will be there for the next two weeks, before returning to the Midwest to take on Purdue March 27th.
- Before returning home, they'll play three games against Penn State on March 11th and 12th and three against Maryland on March 13th and 14th.
- The women's soccer team dropped a pair of matches over the weekend, losing 3-0 to Illinois and 2-0 to Indiana. The team has found chances throughout each game but hasn't been able to capitalize yet. I expect the results to turn soon if they continue to create opportunities.
- The Iowa field hockey team started their season last week with a pair of 1-0 wins, topping Penn State and Indiana.
- The game against Indiana remained scoreless into fourth quarter when the Hawks thought they had scored off of a Maddy Murphy shot. The shot was eventually overturned, but Iowa kept up the pressure and was able to come away with the winning goal in the final moments. Sophie Stribos put away a shot off of a corner, securing the season-opening victory for the Hawks.
- The sole goal in their game against Penn St. also didn't come until the fourth quarter, when the Hawks finally broke through to secure the winning goal.