By Andrew Donlan
Iowa track and field had a successful start to the season at the Hawkeye Invitational on Jan. 13 in the Recreation Building, as tracksters from the men’s and women’s teams set many personal records.
Laulauga Tausaga, a first-team All-American in last year’s outdoor season as a freshman, set a personal best of 15 meters in the shot put, which ranks third all-time at Iowa. Last season, she moved to sixth all-time with a throw of 14.76 meters during the indoor season at the Meyo Invitational.
“Laulauga is also working on being a weight thrower and hammer thrower,” Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody said. “All of those things are just going to make her an even better athlete.”
New throwing coach Eric Werksey deserves some credit for having his group performing so well.
“For the throwers, it’s been a hard fall,” he said before the indoor season. “There’s been a lot of heavy weightlifting and detail-oriented drill work.”
At least from the first meet, it seems as if the training has paid dividends.
Taylor Arco ran the 400 meters in 59.36 seconds. Last season at the Larry Wieczorek Invitational, she ran her best mark up until Saturday — 1:00.10.
Three runners set personal marks in the mile. On the women’s side, Andrea Shine ran a 4:55. For the men, Nathan Mylenek ran a 4:10 to win the event, while Ian Elkin ran a 4:14.
“It’s fun to see our distance runners go out and compete,” Woody said. “That’s what I love about Coach [Randy] Hasenbank and that distance group, they’re not afraid to mix it up in stuff like the 4×400 because he knows that will help their foot speed to help them become better overall.”
Antonio Woodward ran the 60 meters in 6.85 seconds, improving on his previous personal mark, 6.94. He set that at the Iowa State Classic during the 2017 indoor season.
Anthony Williams ran his best time yet in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing in 8.11 seconds.
Gage Eller ran the 200 meters event in 22.40 seconds, shaving .31 seconds off his previous personal best set at the Iowa Open during last year’s indoor season. However, sophomore Chris Thompson edged Eller out with a time of 22.34 seconds in the same event.
Second-team All-American Carter Lilly ran the 400 in 48.66 seconds, and freshman Raymonte Dow finished second in the event with an impressive 48.96 mark.
Kevin Docherty broke his personal record with a 2:27.90 in the 1,000 meters.
“We still have some athletes who didn’t even compete this weekend,” Woody said. “We’re trying to make sure they’re ready to go next week, so I’m excited to see how this meet will go.”
Senior Sheridan Champe ran the 200 in 24.20 seconds, good for another personal record. That number has been trimmed from 25.86 seconds, which she ran in the 2016 indoor season.
Champe shied away from talking about any personal accomplishments after the race, focusing more on the team’s accomplishments.
“It was a great season-opener,” Champe said. “I think we put up some great times, men and women, and hopefully, we can carry that over to next week.”