The University of Iowa’s world-class indoor track will host a number of teams this winter during its second season in Iowa following its circuitous route to the UI Recreation Building, which is nestled alongside around the new Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center, Duane Banks baseball field and Kinnick Stadium.
In 2014, Joey Woody, then an assistant coach with the UI track and field team, made a call to representatives from Beynon — the industry leader in sports surfacing — about facility renovations to the Recreation Building.
Beynon, it turns out, had what Woody was looking for. The 2016 Track and Field Indoor World Championships were scheduled for Portland, Oregon, and Beynon was tasked with building an indoor track for the event. What Beynon didn’t know was what would become of the surface after the event.
“They told me they were building it for the Indoor World Championships, and afterwards they would have to sell it,” said Woody, now the UI track and field director.
Beynon didn’t have a buyer, and that really piqued Woody’s interest. A few months later, when Woody was promoted to director, he did more digging.
“We live in Iowa, so I know how important it is to have a quality indoor track,” Woody said.
Fortunately, for Hawkeye Track and Field, Woody’s bosses agreed, and after approval from the Board of Regents, a purchase ordered secured a World Championship track.
The recreation building was closed in July 2016, with installation of the state of the art track beginning Oct. 17 last year. By mid-November, more than 2,000 tons of steel, rubber surface and gray and gold paint was turned into a six-lane 200-meter banked track, unlike any other in the United States.
“The entire infield is raised,” Woody said. “It’s all on a stage and set up for big-time performances.”
Before the new track was put in place, there were weight lifting machines, along with free weight stations on the upper deck. Those have all been removed and replaced with bleachers and a concession area.
Now in its second year on the Iowa campus, has this banked oval lived up to the hype?
“Yes, the new track has been a game changer for our program,” Woody said. “It has helped with everything from recruiting, to helping our athletes remain healthy, to racing fast!”
“And this season we have some unbelievable teams excited about coming to compete on our world-class facility. At one meet alone we have LSU, Arizona, Florida State, Virginia, Kansas State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa State coming to compete. That meet is the Larry Wieczorek invitational on Jan 19-20,” Woody added.
There are a number of opportunities for fans to come to the recreation building and see the Hawkeye men’s and women’s track and field teams compete this indoor season:
Jan. 13 — Hawkeye Invitational: Arkansas State, Iowa State, Iowa Central, University of Northern Iowa (UNI), South Dakota
Jan. 19-20 — Larry Wieczorek Invitational: Florida State, Louisiana State (LSU), Kansas State, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Virginia, Minnesota, Arizona
Jan. 26-27 — Black and Gold Premier: Illinois State, Barton Community College, Drake, Northern Illinois