It may take a few extra feet or a couple fewer seconds, but eight University of Iowa student-athletes continue their quest for a national title at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
More than 30 Hawkeyes advanced to the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas, last week, but only eight survived the preliminary round to earn a trip back to the Hawkeye state, where the nation's top 24 competitors in each respective event will chase a national title on the blue oval at Drake Stadium. Iowa's elite eight includes six men and two women that own a combined 14 school records.
Below is a short capsule of each of Iowa's eight qualifiers.
JUSTIN AUSTIN -- 200 METERS
Junior Justin Austin placed 12th (20.82) at the NCAA West Regional to advance to the NCAA Championships' final site for the second time in as many years. In 2011, he placed third in the NCAA semifinals before officials disqualified him for stepping out of his lane. Austin won the 200 meter Big Ten title in 2011 and placed third in 2012. He owns the school record in the 100 meters (10.21) and 200 meters (20.31).
MATT BANSE -- HAMMER THROW
Senior Matt Banse is a four-time NCAA qualifier in the hammer throw, but this season marks the first time in his career he has advanced to the NCAA Championships' final site. The Strawberry Point, Iowa, native stepped up big at the West Regional, tossing the hammer a career best 201-11 (61.55m) to place 12th and punch his ticket to Des Moines. His career best ranks sixth in school history.
MATT BYERS -- JAVELIN
A three-time NCAA qualifier, junior Matt Byers placed 11th (223-8, 68.18) in the West Regional to advance to the NCAA Championships' final site for the second time in his career (he placed 21st at the NCAA Championships in 2010). Byers became the fifth Hawkeye in school history to capture three Big Ten titles in the same event when he threw 222-11 (67.94m) to take the 2012 crown in Madison, Wis., on May 13. He holds the school and Big Ten javelin record with a mark of 245-8 (74.89m).
TROY DORIS -- TRIPLE JUMP
Senior Troy Doris placed second (54-4 3/4, 16.58m) at the West Regional to advance to the NCAA Championships' final site for the second time in two years. He placed fifth in 2011 with a mark of 52-11 ½ (16.14m) to earn first team All-America honors. Doris won his fourth Big Ten triple jump title and broke his own school record with a mark of 54-8 (16.66m) at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships on May 26.
ETHAN HOLMES -- HURDLES (110m, 400m)
Junior Ethan Holmes advanced to the NCAA final site in both the 110 and 400-meter hurdles for the second straight year. The Clinton, Iowa, native is the only student-athlete in school history to qualify for the NCAA Championships in both events during the same season. Holmes placed 12th in both events at the West Regional. His career best time in the 110-meter hurdles (13.73) ranks fourth in school history. His career best 50.65 in the 400-meter hurdles ranks sixth in school history.
ASHLEY LIVERPOOL -- 400 METERS
Sophomore Ashley Liverpool is making her first career apperance at the NCAA Championships' final site after placing sixth (53.36) in the 400 meters at the West Regional. She qualified for the NCAA Championships as a freshman in 2011 but was unable to make it out of the regional round. She placed second at the 2012 Big Ten Championships with a career best time of 52.47, a mark that ranks third in school history behind 2006 NCAA Champion Kineke Alexander and 2004 All-American Shellene Williams.
MCKENZIE MELANDER -- 5,000 METERS
Senior McKenzie Melander is making her first career appearance at the NCAA Championships' final site. She qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 1,500 meters in 2009 and 2010, and made her first NCAA 5K appearance in 2011, but this year's 10th place finish (16:26.06) at the West Regional marks the first time she's advanced to the final site. Her career best 5K time of 15:57.13 ranks second in school history behind 1985 NCAA 10K Champion Nan Doak. Melander is the defending Big Ten 5K champion. She captured the conference title in 16:14.03 on May 26 in Madison, Wis.
ERIK SOWINSKI -- 800 METERS
Senior Erik Sowinski could become the first Hawkeye since Bashir Yamini (1996-99) to earn All-America honors three straight years. He placed fourth (1:47.12) at the West Regional and will need to place in the top eight to earn first team All-America honors in Des Moines. Sowinski earned first team All-America honors as a member of 1,600-meter relay in 2010 and was an All-American in the 800 in 2011. His career best time of 1:46.88 is a school record.
Tickets to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships can be purchased at godrakebulldogs.com. ESPN will provide video coverage via ESPN3.com on Thursday and Friday, and on ESPNU on Saturday.