Payton Wensel-Lin Mar-Iowa
©Brian Ray Hawkeye Sports

Hawks’ Wensel Makes Immediate Impact

Payton Wensel-Lin Mar-Iowa ©Brian Ray Hawkeye Sports

Payton Wensel-Lin Mar-Iowa
©Brian Ray Hawkeye Sports

Junior Laulauga Tausaga opened the University of Iowa track and field indoor season with a school record and win in the weight throw (20.19m, 66′ 3″), and junior Antonio Woodard set the UI Rec Building record to win the 300 meters (32.89) at the Jimmy Grant Invitational on Saturday.

Courtesy Hawkeye Sports, click here! Feature photo:Payton Wensel-Lin Mar-Iowa©Brian Ray Hawkeye Sports

“Lauga seems to break the school record in every meet,” Iowa head coach Joey Woodysaid. “She’s keeping the same trend going as she did last year. She’s one of the biggest leaders on the team, not just with her performances, but she’s also a great leader, very charismatic person. It’s fun to see her have some success.

“Then seeing Antonio go out and have a great meet today, he’s a guy that continues to work hard and is dedicated and focused on training, and taking care of his body. It was fun to watch him run back-to-back 60 meters and come back to break the track record.”

The event was the first December competition that the Hawkeyes have hosted, and success was around every turn.

“It was a long day, but it was fun,” Woody said. “This is the first time we’ve ever had the Jimmy Grant Invitational. It’s exciting to honor our former coach Jimmy Grant. We came away with some great performances.”

Tausaga and Woodard added two more wins in the shot put (16.46m, 54′ 0″) and 60 meters (6.88), respectively.

“I know there is a lot more in the tank,” Tausaga said. “Practices have been going very well, and Coach [Eric Werskey] wanted us to start off like we never ended the last season. To come out, PR, and break the school record was amazing and it just sets me up for some damage that can help the team.”

Woodard added similar thoughts.

“I can’t complain, it was a pretty good day,” he said. “I was a little tired going into the 300 meters, but I was like ‘I’m just going to lay it all out there and forget about what I’m feeling right now. This is bigger than what I’m feeling right now. This is the home track. Everyone’s watching.’ I wanted to do what I could and make my team and coaches proud.”

Eight more Hawkeyes earned wins, including Jenny Kimbro with the third fastest 60-meter hurdles time (8.34) in Iowa history, Reno Tuufuli in the shot put (18. 04m, 59′ 2 1/4″), Taylor Arco (1:32.82) and Mar’yea Harris (1:18.77) in the men’s and women’s 600 meters, Daneisha Woodside in the 500 meters (1:17.03), Antonise Christian in the 60 meters (7.64), and James Carter (14.53m, 47′ 8″) and Hannah Schlib (12.10m, 39′ 8 1/2″) in the triple jump.

The 1,600-meter relay teams including Raymund Clarke, Austin Leitz, Tyler Olson, and Mar’yea Harris (3:13.34) for the men, and Payton Wensel, Daneisha Woodside, Mariel Bruxvoort, and Aly Weum (3:47.73) added two more wins for Iowa.

“We expect to compete at a high level, especially when we’re at home,” Woody said. “We want to win every race. It doesn’t matter if it’s heat one, two, three or four. I just want my athletes, when they’re going head-to-head, to win their event, win their heat, their flight, or whatever because that’s how they are going to continue to grow.”

The success continued for the team with nine Hawkeyes setting career bests. Tausaga, Arco and Kimbro’s wins in the weight throw, 600 meters, and 60-meter hurdles earned their top marks. Additional career bests came from Josh Braverman in the 60-meter hurdles, Tia Saunders (1:33.30), Alexis Gay (1:37.72), Lindsay Welker (1:38.57), and Matt Manternach (1:18.79) in the 600 meters, and Macie Weber in the 1,000 meters (3:00.83).

The Hawkeyes return to the UI Rec Building January 11-12 to host the Hawkeye Invitational.