Iowa men's track earns historic Big Ten indoor championship; Joey Woody wants more
After a landmark accomplishment in Iowa track and field history, the Hawkeyes’ hometown coach — Iowa City native Joey Woody — was left wanting more.
Woody’s Hawkeye men overpowered the field at the Big Ten Conference Indoor Championships in Geneva, Ohio, scoring a school-record 119 points and comfortably outdistancing second-place Indiana (92).
“I hope I’m not sounding greedy but that’s too close for me. I want to win by 50 points,” Woody said Saturday, sounding a little bit like wrestling coach Tom Brands. “Then I can take a breath. That was the plan. That was the goal.”
Considering this marked Iowa’s first outright conference indoor championship since 1929, that was a bold statement. But it was one indicative of the continued strength of Woody’s track and field program.
It was two springs ago at the 2019 outdoor championships in Iowa City that the Hawkeyes brought home the Big Ten title, a significant breakthrough for the program and the university. Then, in 2020, the Iowa men finished second in the Big Ten indoor championships before the outdoor event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And back on the big stage in Ohio, the Hawkeyes kept ascending behind a terrific display of depth. Iowa won two events over the three-day championships — Peyton Haack in the heptathlon and James Carter Jr. in the long jump and secured five silver medals. Two of those second-place finishes came from tremendous sprinter Wayne Lawrence Jr., who ran 45.40 seconds in the 400 — the fourth-fastest college time in the nation — and 20.89 in the 200.
Iowa shared the 1963 indoor Big Ten title but hadn't won it outright in 92 years.
“I keep telling them it was a whole team effort,” Woody said. “We had athletes scoring in every single event area. Everybody we brought, and even those back home, were part of this championship. We had to leave people home who we thought could make some finals.”
The Iowa women made some noise of their own over three days, scoring 75 points to finish in third place. That matched their best finish in program history.
Paige Magee’s gold-medal run of 8.26 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles led the way.
Up next for the Hawkeye men and women: The NCAA Indoor Championships, March 12-13 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
“We have made huge strides over the last couple years,” Woody said. “You must get the right athletes and the right staff and right mentality and have the belief that we can be champions. Now we just have to keep building.”