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Could this be the year for the Iowa men’s track and field team?

Coach Joey Woody surely hopes so.

You have to go back to 2011 to find the last Hawkeye teamin any sport to win an outright Big Ten title, and that was the men’s track team that hosted the outdoor championships.

This year’s version of that event starts Friday at Penn State, and Woody said this week he feels as good about his Hawkeyes as he has since that 2011 breakthrough.

“We know that we’ll have a chance to win,” Woody said. “The Big Ten has become more even than it’s ever been across all event areas.”

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Nebraska, Illinois and the host school figure to be Iowa’s stiffest competition. But fueling Woody’s optimism is the high-end talent his squad can unleash.

That depth begins with senior hurdler Aaron Mallett. It extends to Reno Tuufuli (throws), O’Shea Wilson (sprints) and Mar’Yea Harris (sprints). Iowa’s 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams are stout. The Hawkeyes’ middle-distance runners are solid. And then it will be up to athletes such as Mitch Wolf (hurdles) and William Dougherty (multi-events) to provide some surprises. Woody will use his best athletes in multiple events.

If it all falls in place?

“We have way more depth than we’ve ever had,” Woody said. “The more bullets we have on that final day during the finals, it’s going to give us a great shot to win.

“The Big Ten championship for us right now is pretty much the No. 1 goal. That’s why they hired us. We also believe we can be a top-10 team at nationals this year.”

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