Des Moines, Iowa
The University of Northern Iowa men's and women's track & field teams will be represented throughout all four days of the Drake Relays, starting on Wed., Apr. 25, and concluding Sat., Apr. 28. Multi-events competition will highlight the first two days, while the majority of the Panthers will compete on Friday and Saturday.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
UNI Success in the Drake Decathlon
Five of the past eight Drake Relays decathlon crowns have gone to athletes with UNI ties. Former UNI head coach and student-athlete Travis Geopfert won the title in 2004 and 2006, former Panther All-American Raven Cepeda won the event in 2007, and former All-American Mat Clark owns the 2009 and 2011 titles.
Current UNI senior Daniel Gooris placed fifth at Drake last year with 7,132 points.
Back for More
UNI senior Justin Romero claimed a fourth-place finish in the shot put at the 2011 Drake Relays, throwing a then-personal best 57-07.75 (17.57m) to surpass his previous top mark by 1 foot, 7 inches. This year, Romero has thrown a school-record 60-01.00 (18.31m) to lead the MVC and rank No. 19 in the nation.
Three Out of Four
The Panthers return three of the four runners from last season's Drake Relays 4x400m relay team of Olimpia Nowak, Holli Hosch, Michaela Brungardt and Sam Cameron that clocked the fifth-fastest time in school history at 3:42.21.
On April 21 at the Musco Twilight, Panther senior Jill Lageschulte re-set the UNI school record in the 3,000m steeplechase that she broke just five weeks prior in Florida. She won the event in 10:44.44 to surpass the old record and her previous personal best by just over 18 seconds. Lageschulte has now run the 3,000m steeplechase three times this year and emerged with a first-place finish each time.
Lageschulte's performance was impressive enough to garner her a spot in the event at the Drake Relays. She'll compete at 11:10 a.m. on Saturday.
Nowak Dominates at Iowa
UNI senior Olimpia Nowak swept the hurdle events at Iowa's Musco Twilight on April 21, winning the 100m hurdles with a time of 13.82 seconds and the 400m hurdles in 59.25 seconds. Nowak became just the second woman in UNI history to run the 400m hurdles in less than one minute.
She leads the MVC in the 100m hurdles and ranks No. 2 in the 400m hurdles, while also ranking in the Top 25 in the West region in both events. In addition, Nowak ran a leg on the UNI 4x400m relay that recorded a season-best time of 3:43.69 to rank third in the league.
Big Day for Stockstell
Senior Aaron Stockstell took over the Missouri Valley Conference lead in the 800m with a time of 1:49.29 on April 21 at the Musco Twilight hosted by Iowa. Stockstell's time ranks No. 30 in the West region and No. 49 in the nation this season. He also ran a leg on the Panthers' 4x400m relay team that ran 3:12.82 to rank No. 2 in the MVC.
Brungardt Breaks Out
Senior Michaela Brungardt claimed the 400m crown at the Musco Twilight in a time of 55.09 seconds that now ranks No. 5 all-time at UNI.
Davenport Leads Again
Freshman Jesse Davenport led the UNI 400m men for the second straight week, running 48.27 seconds for fourth place and a new season-best time at the Musco Twilight on April 21. He's ranked No. 5 in the MVC this year.
The UNI 4x100m relay team of Carlos Anderson, Derek Kramer, Wilmot Wellington and Jarred Herring recorded a season-best time of 40.90 seconds at the Musco Invitational. It marked the quartet's first competition together since they claimed honorable mention All-America honors at the 2011 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The Panthers now rank No. 2 in the MVC in the event.
UNI senior Olimpia Nowak captured the heptathlon title at the KT Woodman Classic hosted by Wichita State on Apr. 11-12. Nowak totaled 5,365 points in adverse weather conditions for the third-best heptathlon score of her career. She leads the MVC and ranks No. 16 in the nation this season.
Leading the Valley
UNI junior Jordan Williams extended his lead over the rest of the MVC with a title and personal-best effort of 182-07 (55.65m) in the discus on April 14 at the Cornell Open. Williams is No. 4 on the UNI all-time list in the event, and No. 16 in the West Region and No. 22 in the nation this season.
Baker Breaks Out
Freshman Justin Baker surpassed his previous best in the shot put this season by five feet at the Cornell Open on Apr. 14, taking the event title with a throw of 57-05.75 (17.52m). That performance leaves Baker just one-half inch out of No. 5 on the Panthers' all-time list, No. 30 in the NCAA West Region this year, and No. 3 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Shot Putters Galore
The UNI men own the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 spots on the MVC leaderboard in the shot put. Senior Justin Romero leads the league with his school-record toss of 60-01 (18.31m), and freshman Justin Baker and junior Jordan Williams have each recorded personal-best throws this season to rank No. 3 and No. 4.
First Try for Knodle Enters the Record Books
UNI freshman Paige Knodle took third place in her first-ever collegiate heptathlon competition, scoring 4,964 points at the KT Woodman Classic on Apr. 11-12. Knodle's performance puts her at No. 5 on the UNI all-time list.
Harms & Sukovaty Do it Again
UNI's standout pair of women's throwers - Traci Harms and Kelsey Sukovaty - once again altered the school's record books at the Cornell Open on Apr. 14. Harms won the shot put with a toss of 48-06.00 (14.78m) - a personal-best mark and good enough for No. 4 all-time at UNI. Sukovaty notched a new lifetime-best throw of 171-08 (52.33m) in the hammer to become No. 5 on the UNI all-time performance list.
Quite the Crew
The UNI women's hurdlers have made themselves noticed at the conference level early this outdoor season. Four of the top 12 performers in the MVC this year in the 100m hurdles are Panthers. Olimpia Nowak (1st in the MVC), Paige Knodle (4th), Lindsay Gierke (11th) and Rachel Peth (12th) have all posted times under 14.50 seconds in the event.
Re-Writing the Record Books
The Panther women have seen school records fall in nine different events over the past 15 months, and a total of 28 performances from this season alone rank in the school's all-time top-five.
The UNI men's track & field team is No. 13 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest regional rankings released on April 24.
The League's Best
The UNI men own the top mark in the MVC in two of the four throwing events. Senior Justin Romero leads in the shot put, and junior Jordan Williams leads in the discus. School record-holder Tanner Hurt ranks No. 3 in the MVC in the hammer throw, and sophomore Adam McDonnell is fourth in the league in the javelin.
UNI is the only MVC school that has at least one athlete listed in the regional Top-40 for each of the four men's throwing events. The top 48 performers in each region will advance to the NCAA Preliminary Rounds at the end of May.