Having a field day
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Three University of Iowa student-athletes had a field day at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas, last weekend, advancing to the NCAA Championship Rounds of their respective field events.
While action on the track gets most of the attention from track and field fans, three Hawkeyes secured at least honorable mention All-America honors in the field events because of their performances at the NCAA West Region Preliminary: senior Matt Banse (hammer throw), senior Troy Doris (triple jump), and junior Matt Byers (javelin).
The trio was led by Doris, who placed second in the triple jump on May 26. Doris jumped 54-feet-4 ¾-inches on his third attempt, then passed on all three of his jumps in the finals. Doris jumped 16.15 meters, 16.53, and 16.58 in the preliminary round.
"I wanted to come out and execute," Doris says. "My second and third jumps were over 54 feet and that's where I should be—being consistent around my school record and personal best. If I keep staying consistent, I'll make a huge jump down the line."
Last season Doris was the lone UI competitor to become first-team All-America, placing fifth with an effort of 53-3 in Des Moines, also the site of the 2012 championships. He knows what he has to do for a repeat trip to the medal stand at Drake Stadium on Friday, June 8.
"I have to keep my composure and compete like I know how," he says. "If I execute, I will be fine. There shouldn't be anything to stop me, and I think I'll put on a show in Des Moines."
Byers opened the javelin competition May 24 with an effort of 223-8 on his first throw, which was good enough for 11th in the competition (the top 12 from the West and East Preliminary Rounds advance to the NCAA Finals).
"I'm still not where I want to be distance-wise, but the one thing I can take way from this is that I have been pretty consistent with throws," Byers says. "They were all around the same range, so that's a good sign. The big thing the next two weeks is to go back, work hard, nail my technique down, get a little smoother, and get some big throws. I have been competing with a lot of the kids that threw far (May 24 in Austin), and I feel I'm just as good, so I'm ready for some big things at nationals."
It took a career-best effort—and then a career-best effort again—before Banse could sew up the coveted 12th spot in the hammer throw. He topped the 200-foot mark (201-11) on his sixth and final attempt May 25.
"It was the best performance of my career," Banse says. "My second throw was a seasonal best and I knew I was going to have to do better than that to make it. I had a nice throw progression: I went 59 (meters), 60, then I threw a personal-best of 61.55."
The distances for Banse on this three throws in the finals were 59.43 meters, 60.43, and 61.55.
"I didn't want my senior year to end without a PR, I didn't want to end on 199-11, I wanted to break the 200-foot mark," Banse says. "I knew if I did what I was doing in practice, everything would come together."
One of the biggest Hawkeye heartbreaks during the West Preliminary was in the men's discus, where freshman Gabe Hull placed 13th, two centimeters behind Danny Block of Wisconsin for 12th.
UI assistant coach Clive Roberts works with Hawkeye runners and jumpers, and he understands that it is more convenient for track and field fans to follow action on the track, rather than in the field.
"They miss some of the best athletes in the world," Roberts says. "I know a lot of the attention is spent on the track, but Troy (Doris) is one of the best in the world right now. If you look at the javelin, the high jump—Erik Kynard from Kansas State is one of the best guys in the world. There's a lot of talent in the field."
"The field events are a little low key, so they don't get a lot of attention because they're not on the track," Doris says. "But being in the field, you know you still have to execute, even though all eyes aren't on you. It's a little tough on us, but we still get it done."
You can't get much farther away from Drake Stadium than the hammer throw cage. Although it is still an easy walk from the track, the throws area isn't densely populated with track and field fans. Banse could change that Friday, June 7, when the "hometown hero" competes at 2 p.m. The Strawberry Point, Iowa, native is returning to the site of some of his greatest throwing accomplishments.
"It's a surreal feeling going back to Drake Stadium," Banse says. "It has been a special place for me since my sophomore year of high school. It's going to be amazing; it's a great place to end my career."