All the news from Mens and Womens Track.

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside
©Jim Kirby

A.G. Kruger, One of Iowa’s Best, Comes Up Short at Trials

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside ©Michael Scott

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside
©Michael Scott

South Dakota throw coach A.G. Kruger finished fourth in the hammer throw at the United States Olympic Trials at Hayward Field on Wednesday evening.


Courtesy University of S. Dakota Athletics, Britni Waller, USD Sports Information, Click Here!

Kruger sent the hammer 240 feet, 6 inches, on his second throw of the competition. His throw remained in the top three headed into the finals.

Cornell junior Rudy Winkler launched a throw of 251-10 on his fourth attempt to bump Kruger to fourth in the standings.

“I am probably done with my career,” Kruger said after the competition ended. “I thank God for giving me the chance to do this for all of these years. It has been an amazing ride. There are a lot of emotions right now, but at some point it comes to an end.”

Winkler, Kibwe Johnson and Conor McCullough took home the top three spots at the Trials. Johnson threw 246-5 on his third throw and McCullough posted a 243-4 on his first attempt. McCullough’s throw was the best third place mark at the U.S. Olympic Trials since 1992.

Kruger retires as a three-time Olympian, five-time World Championship qualifier and 15-time U.S. National Championship qualifier.

“Hopefully it’s not the end of A.G. Kruger,” Johnson said. “If it was, I would have given him a big old hug. We go back further than most of these guys throwing the hammer. It’s kind of bittersweet the way it ended tonight. I would have liked for him to make the team going out. He definitely put it all into it today. I am sure moving on, hopefully he will reconcile that and he will be at peace with that.”

“A.G. is a fantastic human being and a great coach,” Lance Deal said of Kruger. “It’s always hard for me to see an athlete at this stage of his life because I still remember what it’s like. A great friend and mentor once said to me ‘Athletes and dancers die two deaths.’ Every time I see that I get a little chocked up.”

Deal, the 1996 Olympic silver medalist in the hammer throw and American record holder, designed and built the hammer cage that was used for this year’s Olympic Trials. The hammer throw was contested inside Hayward Field for the first time in history.


More A.G. Kruger quotes…

Sheldon, Iowa native AG Kruger was very emotional in mixed zone area following the men’s hammer throw where he finished fourth. He talked to reporters handling questions with class and dignity
“I’m probably done with my career. Thank God for giving me the chance to do this for all these years. It’s been an amazing ride. There are a lot of emotions right now, but at some point it comes to an end.”
Here is quote from Lance Deal, silver medalist in men’s hammer throw at 1996 Olympics on career of AG Kruger:
“AG is a fantastic human being and a great coach. It’s always hard for me to see an athlete in that stage of his life because I still remember what it’s like. A great friend and mentor of mine said to me once ‘Athletes and dancers die two deaths’. Every time I see that I get a little choked up.”

At 34 years old Kibwe Johnson, was the second oldest competitor in the men’s hammer throw at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Johnson finished second Wednesday in the Olympic Trials finals. He was a teammate of Kruger on several U.S. national teams.

“Hopefully it’s not the end of A.G Kruger. If it was, I would have given him a big old hug. We go back further than most of these guys throwing the hammer. So it’s kind of bittersweet the way it ended tonight. I would have liked for him to have made the team going out. He definitely probably put it all into it today. I’m sure moving on, hopefully he will reconcile that and he will be at peace with that”


Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake 
©Doug Wells

Austin Leads Iowans at the Fifth Season 8K

Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake ©Doug Wells

Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake
©Doug Wells

Iowans come up big at The Fifth Season 8K in Cedar Rapids this past holiday weekend.  Congratulations to Brogan Austin-Boone-Drake who was the overall winner.  Here is the link to the Cedar Rapids Gazette story about the race, Click Here!.

Overall results, Click Here! 

Feature photo: Brogan Austin-Boone-Austin ©Doug Wells

Iowa’s Kruger Eyes 4th USA Olympic Team

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside ©Michael Scott

A.G. Kruger-Sheldon-Morningside
©Michael Scott

Three-time Olympian and USD throw coach A.G. Kruger launched the hammer 246 feet at an Olympic Trials qualifying meet held at the Lillibridge Track Complex.

Courtesy U. of S. Dakota Athletics, Click Here! Feature photo: A.G. Kruger ©Michael Scott

The meet, organized by Kruger, was designed to help Olympic hopefuls post qualifying marks ahead of the U.S. Olympic Trials held July 1-10 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Four of Kruger’s six throws were beyond 240 feet. Kruger was a foot shy of his season best, 247-1, that was set last week in Ashland, Ohio. He currently ranks third in the U.S. behind Kibwe Johnson and Conor McCullough. Kruger holds a personal best of 260-0, or 79.26 meters.

In addition to making three Olympic teams, Kruger has competed on five World Championship teams and qualified for 15 U.S. National Championships.

A native of Sheldon, Iowa, Kruger graduated from Morningside College in 2001.

Omar McLeod- Jamaica
©Jim Kirby 2017

Neither Rain Nor Cold…McLeod Leads World at Drake

Omar McLeod- Jamaica ©Jim Kirby

Omar McLeod- Jamaica
©Jim Kirby

The Drake Relays Road to Rio ended on Saturday in rainy and cold weather.

It was in those conditions that Omar McLeod of Jamaica clocked a World leading 13.08 (-0.1) in the men’s 110m hurdles.

Courtesy Track Alerts, Click Here!

Last weekend, he went sub 10 (9.99) in the 100m and things look good for a sub-13 seconds clocking in Shanghai, the second stop in the IAAF Diamond League on May 14th.

American, David Oliver was second in 13.31 and Jamaican, Hansle Parchment, third in 13.42, while World record holder, Aries Merritt, ended fifth in 13.61.

In a competitive women’s hurdles, 12.56 was the fastest time of the day by World leader American, Kendra Harrison, over compatriots, Kristi Castlin, 12.62 and Brianna Rollins, 12.65, Nia Ali, 12.77 and Jasmin Stowers, 12.81.

Levern Spencer of St. Lucia cleared 1.95m in high jump to beat World Indoor champion Vashti Cunningham, who was fourth, 1.85m.

Kaliese Spencer finished fourth in the women’s 400m hurdles in 56.39 (her slowest time since 2010). Briton Meghan Beesley clocked 55.43 to win the event

drake relays 2014 fri  sp w1500m 0051

Iowa’s Jenny Simpson Headlines Outstanding 1500m Field For Drake

Jenny Simpson-Colorado-Professional Athlete ©Jim Kirby

Jenny Simpson-Colorado-Professional Athlete
©Jim Kirby

The Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee will feature some of the top American women’s 1,500-meter runners in the Rio Olympic Games Preview field.

©Drake Relays Click Here!

The lineup is highlighted by eight runners who posted times that ranked in the top 20 in the U.S. in 2015 including Olympians Jenny Simpson and Morgan Uceny. Joining those veteran runners are the likes of the former World Junior Champion in the 3,000 meters, Mary Cain, and Brenda Martinez.

Mary Cain ©Jim Kirby

Mary Cain
©Jim Kirby

Both Cain and Martinez make their return to the Blue Oval after Martinez competed in the 800 meters last season while Cain made her Drake Relays debut in 2013. Martinez recently finished fifth in the event at the World Indoor Championships, while fellow Rio Olympic Games Preview competitor Violah Lagat was eighth.

Heather Kampf, a Grand Blue Mile champion, is also in the field that is bolstered by the return of four-time USA Outdoor Champion Treniere Moser.

Also racing for the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee prize purse will be Melissa Salerno, Heidi See, Rachel Schneider and Gabrielle Grunewald.

The Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee Rio Olympic Games Preview is scheduled for Friday, April 29 as part of Hy-Vee Night at the Drake Relays beginning at 7:52 p.m.

Single-session tickets for the 2016 Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee are now on sale as are all-session and multi-session tickets. To secure your seats at Drake Stadium, visit, or call the Drake Athletic Ticket Office at 515-271-3647.

Erik Sowinski-Iowa
©Michael Scott

Sowinski On Top Of the World

Erik Sowinski-Iowa ©Jim Kirby

Erik Sowinski-Iowa
©Jim Kirby

Former University of Iowa All-American Erik Sowinski earned a bronze medal Saturday night in the 800 meters at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon.

Courtesy Hawkeye Athletics: Click Here!  Feature photo ©Michael Scott 

Sowinski entered the field with an at-large invitation and finished the 800 meters in 1:47.22 at the Oregon Convention Center, placing third behind Antoine Gakeme (1:46.65) and world champion Boris Berian (1:45.83).

“I was stuck in the back a little bit but Boris got the crowd going so it’s a testament to how he raced and he really set that up to be a heck of a race,” Sowinski said. “I just wanted to keep my nose in there. It was a little pushy throughout the entire thing and I just wanted to stay in contention and be able to make a move with 150 to go. Fortunately I had enough there to hold on for a medal.”

Sowinski competed at Iowa from 2009-12. He was a seven-time All-American and two-time Big Ten champion. He owns or shares seven school records, and was named an Academic All-American in 2012.

He previously represented Team USA at the 2014 World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, and the 2015 World Outdoor Championships in Beijing, China.

“It’s just a testament to hard work,” Sowinski said. “Seeing where Boris came from is inspiring to me. Me coming out of college I didn’t have a sponsorship and was working 40-hours-a-week at a running store and it ended up paying off for me. So being able to see guys like Boris do that will hopefully inspire other guys to do the same thing. You don’t need a five-star lifestyle to be competitive in this sport. Trust in your training and stay positive and anything can happen. Boris is a huge testament to that — props to him today.”

Diane Nukuri-Iowa
©Boston Herald

Adopted Iowan, Diane Nukuri One of England’s Best

Layne Anderson and Diane Nikuri ©Jim Kirby

Layne Anderson and Diane Nikuri
©Jim Kirby

At the 79th Manchester Road Race in New England’s most prestigious Thanksgiving Day race, defending women’s champion Diane Nukuri of Burundi prevailed once again in convincing fashion. Some 12,000 runners competed on a seasonally mild and sunny day.


Nukuri, who finish eighth in last month’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon, may have come into today’s race with more tired legs than her competitors, but with far more experience. Today marked the sixth appearance here for the 30-year-old athlete after first running the race back in 2008. She had finished on the podium three times before, and considers Manchester something of a second home.
“I love it here. I might move here,” quipped Nukuri, who lives in Flagstaff, Az., after the race.
After the flat opening mile, the race moves steeply uphill on Highland Street for more than a mile. Organizers placed a stripe in the road just ahead of the two-mile mark, and the first male and female athletes to hit that mark collect an extra $1000. That’s where Nukuri felt her first big challenge. Former Boise State star Emma Bates spurted ahead of Nukuri and Canadian 10,000m record holder Natasha Wodak to pick up the “Queen of the Hill” prime. Seeds of doubt crept into Nukuri’s mind.
“I don’t know what her name is, the girl who got the uphill challenge,” Nukuri said of Bates. “She was strong, and I felt like the girls who were right behind me were still right there. And you know, when you get on top of the hill together, anything can happen.”
But Nukuri knew the big downhill in the third mile was just ahead after the race turned left onto Porter Street. She hadn’t redlined her heart on the climb, and was ready to take full advantage of the downhill. Experience pays.
“That’s what I did last year, exactly the same strategy,” Nukuri said of attacking on the downhill. “I just tried to finish that last two miles. I was thinking, if I could run 5 minutes (per mile) or under maybe they can match it, but that’s pretty fast.”
They couldn’t. Nukuri came to the uphill finish on Main Street with a comfortable margin on both Wodak and Bates. Nukuri was timed in 24:25, her fastest time ever here in six attempts.
“I love it here,” Nukuri said again. “This is one of my favorite races.”
Wodak clinched second in 24:32 and Bates got third in 24:44. Maddie Van Beek (25:04) and Hannah Davidson (25:08) rounded out the top-5 finishers.

Drake Relays Photographers
©Charlie Neibergall

“Thank You” to the World’s Best Photographers

Me and Earl Hulst

Me and Earl Hulst

I wanted to take a moment to recognize and to express a heartfelt “thank you” to the world’s best photographers who have helped the Next Level Iowa these past years.  They have helped us in our mission of promoting and supporting our great Iowa athletes and coaches excelling in xc, track and field around the globe with their brilliant photos and work.

Cover photo: ©Charlie Neibergall

I am often humbled in the opportunity to associate with them during my favorite events.  They have been a part of my most treasured times.  They have joined me in my favorite places and are some of my best friends.  They are award winning photographers who have taught me many things about photography, and athletics, but even more they have taught me passion in covering the athletes and events we cover.

Thank you for helping us share the stories of the Iowa Athletes and Coaches who make us proud as they take their talents to college and beyond.


©Chris Donahue

©Chris Donahue

©Kirby Clarke Onyepunuka-Olear

©Kirby Clarke Onyepunuka-Olear










©Paul Merca

©Paul Merca

©Luke Lu

©Luke Lu








©Darren Miller

©Darren Miller



©Charlie Neibergall

©Charlie Neibergall








©Dave Peterson

©Dave Peterson

©Doug Wells

©Doug Wells












Ashley Miller-Tipton-Nebraska
©Andrew M Nguyen

Tipton’s Miller Still Setting Records

Ashley Miller-Tipton-Nebraska

Ashley Miller-Tipton-Nebraska

Ashley Miller, a 15-time state track champion from Tipton, Iowa, and an All-American at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, set a record while winning the St. Jude Fayetteville (Arkansas) 10K on Aug. 29. Miller’s time of 37:50.38 topped the field by 2 minutes, 43 seconds and shattered the course record previously held by Arkansas All-American Stephanie Brown, who runs for Nike.

For results Click Here!

The next day Miller won her first aquathlon, the Lake Thunderbird Long Course “One thousand and five” in Norman, Oklahoma. Miller completed the 1,000 yard swim (19:54) and five mile run (31:47) in 52:30.

For results Click Here!

Miller, now living in Oklahoma City and competing for OK Runner, will complete a dietetic internship through the University of Oklahoma on Thursday, Sept. 3.

By Darren Miller

Jenny Simpson
©Jim Kirby

Jenny Simpson and Team USA Ready For Worlds

Jenny Simpson-Webster City ©Michael Scott

Jenny Simpson-Webster City
©Michael Scott

The biennial IAAF World Championships are the most important global track and field competition outside of the Olympics. The championships commence in Beijing with the men’s marathon on Saturday morning (Friday afternoon and evening in the United States). Here is what to look for in the middle-distance and distance events, as well the race your non-running friends probably care most about, the men’s 100.

Beijing is 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time. Times listed refer to finals.
Men’s 800 Meters
(August 25, 8:55 p.m. Beijing, 8:55 a.m. Eastern, 5:55 a.m. Pacific)

The two-lapper is frontloaded with defending Olympic champ David Rudisha of Kenya, defending world champ Mo Aman of Ethiopia, and last year’s top runner, Botswana’s Nijel Amos. Amos has beaten Rudisha in six of their last seven races, and may have the edge right now. There’s a formidable European cadre here, too. It will take a world-class time in the semis to make the final, and any of the youthful Americans, led by Casimir Loxsom, should be thrilled if they can sneak into the final.

Women’s 800 Meters
(August 29, 7:15 p.m. Beijing, 7:15 a.m. Eastern, 4:15 a.m. Pacific)

Kenya’s defending gold medalist Eunice Sum is an overwhelming favorite to repeat, though Cuban newcomer Rose Mary Almanza bears watching. Beyond that, the 800 field is not as deep as in previous years. Brenda Martinez, the 2013 bronze medalist, new mother Alysia Montano, or Molly Ludlow, who has the fastest U.S. time this year, could give Americans the bronze. A subplot involves Russian Anastasiya Bazdyreva, who is on the entry list despite being implicated as a drug user in a German TV documentary. Other entrants have made it clear they don’t want her on the start line.

Men’s 1500 Meters
(August 30, 7:45 p.m. Beijing, 7:45 a.m. Eastern, 4:45 a.m. Pacific)

American Matthew Centrowitz won the bronze and silver medals at the 2011 and 2013 championships, respectively. But he’s up against an extraordinary field in Beijing. His 3:30.40, the fastest 1500 ever by an American-born runner, got him only 10th place in Monaco on July 17. He was nearly four seconds behind Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, the two-time defending world champion who seems prepared for a third gold. The American-based runner most likely to come home with a medal is Michigan-based Nick Willis of New Zealand.

Women’s 1500 Meters
(August 25, 8:35 p.m. Beijing, 8:35 a.m. Eastern, 5:35 a.m. Pacific)

Anyone who breaks a purportedly invincible 22-year-old world record and beats a world-class field by six seconds, as Genzebe Dibaba did in Monaco last month, is expected to bring home a gold from Beijing. But new American record holder Shannon Rowbury and two-time world championships medalist Jenny Simpson believe that running three rounds will blunt Dibaba’s advantage and lead to a tactical final. Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands and Faith Kipyegon of Kenya are on a short list of runners who could keep the United States from having two medalists.

Men’s 3,000-Meter Steeplechase
(August 24, 9:15 p.m. Beijing, 9:15 a.m. Eastern, 6:15 a.m. Pacific)

Evan Jager became a legitimate gold-medal threat with his American record of 8:00.45 on July 4. He’ll be surrounded by four Kenyans who see him as a more formidable foe than ever before. Indications are that Jairus Birech, fastest in the world the past two years, may be slightly weakened by the effects of malaria. Although Ezekiel Kemboi, winner of two Olympic golds and the last three world championships, is the proverbial big meet performer, he’s 33 and not having a spectacular year. A win by Jager would be a historic morale boost for American distance running.

Women’s 3,000-Meter Steeplechase
(August 26, 9:00 p.m. Beijing, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 a.m. Pacific)

Emma Coburn of Colorado ranked second in the world in 2014, and her 9:15 victory on a hot day at the U.S. championships in June stamped her as a medal favorite, maybe even a pick for gold. But the outlook is hazier now. Her performances since then have dipped, and the event has more depth than it did a year ago. The fastest time of 2015, 9:11.28 by Tunisian Habiba Ghribi, is four seconds faster than what Coburn ran in June. There may be no clear indication of who the medalists will be until the final barrier is cleared, and Coburn is likely to still be in the picture.

Men’s 5,000 Meters
(August 29, 7:30 p.m. Beijing, 7:30 a.m. Eastern, 4:30 a.m. Eastern)

Ethiopians Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet have the flashy times that suggest they can defeat two-time world champ Mo Farah in a hard-from-the-gun 5,000, but somehow that never happens. It’s difficult to argue that Beijing will be any different than Farah’s previous triumphs. There’s an experienced Kenyan corps to contend with, too, in the quest for medals. Ben True has a 2015 Diamond League win to his credit and believes that if the pace is brisk but not scorching, he can run a strong enough last lap to grab a medal for the United States.

Women’s 5,000 Meters
(August 30, 7:15 p.m. Beijing, 7:15 a.m. Eastern, 4:15 a.m. Pacific)

The story of this event in 2015 has been the efforts of Genzebe Dibaba and Almaz Ayana to break Dibaba’s sister Tirunesh’s world record of 14:11.15. They’ve come up just short. They’ll likely duel for gold in Beijing, and Ayana, after Dibaba’s 1500s, will be fresher. Kenya’s 2013 world championships silver medalist Mercy Cherono is the beneficiary if the top two knock themselves out. The young American trio, led by Nicole Tully, are unlikely medal contenders, but one of them could place in the top six.

Men’s 10,000 Meters
(August 22 – 8:50 p.m. Beijing, 8:50 a.m. Eastern, 5:50 a.m. Pacific)

Mo Farah of Great Britain, the defending champion, has the year’s best 10,000 clocking, 26:50.97. He ran that in May to defeat Kenyans Paul Tanui and Geoffrey Kamworor, who he’ll face again in Beijing. But Kamworor, the world champion in cross country and the half marathon, has since run a 27:11 at altitude in Nairobi. The Kenyans have talked about using team tactics to deny Farah the chance to run his trademark scorching last lap. Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp is the best bet among the Americans, but his 2015 race results don’t hint at a top three finish here.

Women’s 10,000 Meters
(August 24, 8:35 p.m. Beijing, 8:35 a.m. Eastern, 5:35 a.m. Pacific)

This is the toughest of the distance races to forecast. The fastest time of 2015 belongs to an Ethiopian, Gelete Burka, who remains better known as a 1500-meter runner. Track fans will find out how far 2011 world champion Vivian Cheruiyot has come back since giving birth in October 2013 and whether 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sally Kipyego is up to the form that gave her the best 10,000 time of 2014. Shalane Flanagan’s 31:09.02 is the fastest non-Ethiopian 10,000 of the year, and Molly Huddle has had a terrific 2015 against foreign and domestic competition on the road and track. The Americans will be close to the top three, and could medal in an unpredictable race.

Men’s Marathon
(August 22, 7:35 a.m. Beijing/August 21, 7:35 p.m. Eastern 4:35 p.m. Pacific)

This event looks more like a World Marathon Majors race than it ever has at these championships. Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa won his second Boston Marathon in April, Kenyan Wilson Kipsang is the reigning New York City champion, and his training partner Dennis Kimetto is the man who broke his world record. Those could be the three medalists, with an edge going to Kipsang for his finishing speed. Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich surprised by winning the 2012 Olympics and 2013 world championships, but the third time is unlikely to be the charm for him. American Jeffrey Eggleston’s experience at two world championships could lift him into the top five, especially if poor conditions prove to be an equalizer.

Women’s Marathon
(August 30, 7:30 a.m. Beijing/August 29, 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 4:30 p.m. Pacific)

This could be a textbook Ethiopia vs. Kenya battle. Ethiopia has the 2015 London champion Tigist Tufa and 2014 marathon winners Mare Dibaba (Chicago, after Rita Jeptoo’s drug DQ) and Tirfi Tsegaye (Berlin). Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat is seeking her third world title; her teammate Jemima Sumgong was a close second in New York City in November. Japan is experiencing a resurgence in women’s marathoning, and Sairi Maeda might crack the East African hegemony. The best of the Americans is Serena Burla, who could have a top 10 finish if heat and humidity bring the field closer.

And Don’t Forget: Men’s 100 Meters
(August 23, 9:15 p.m. Beijing, 9:15 a.m. Eastern, 6:15 p.m. Pacific)

This race matches track’s only household name, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, against American Justin Gatlin, who has served two drug suspensions and ran his personal best of 9.74 this year at age 33.

Until his 9.87 in London on July 24, defending world champion and world record holder Bolt looked like he might not even make the final in Beijing. His imperfect London race hinted he’d be fit to run faster in a few weeks.

There are other notable presences in the 100, including 2007 world champion Tyson Gay (running well after coming off a drug suspension) and Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, a former world record holder who’s also served a drug suspension and has clocked 9.81 this year. The sport’s up-and-coming fresh face is American Trayvon Bromell.

But they’re bit players. This is Bolt vs. Gatlin, and Gatlin seems ready to end Bolt’s reign.