January 2014

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Happy New Year! T By Gary Barta he start of every new year offers an opportunity for a fresh start. When it comes to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, I am excited to watch how our coaches and student-athletes finish what has already been an entertaining and successful Hawkeye sports year to date. Here are some highlights…and it's only January! THE FIRST PAGE… A new face. In the first month of the new year — July — the UI introduced Iowa native Rick Heller as the 20th head coach in the history of Hawkeye baseball. Heller has been head coach of three different programs — most recently at Indiana State — and has guided all three to NCAA postseason play. He advanced the 2001 Northern Iowa team to NCAA Regional competition. Starting with a bang for the Hawks, a nice check for the UI. In late August, the UI was notified as winner of the second annual College Colors Day Spirit Cup and a $10,000 check for the UI's general scholarship fund. The Hawkeyes earned its first-place finish by mobilizing its fan base to generate the most online pledges of support in a competition that included 165 colleges and universities across the country. The top five schools included, in order, Iowa, Penn State, Alabama, Clemson, and Texas Christian. A record-setting season by Ron Rainey's Hawkeye soccer team. The Hawkeyes opened their season with nine straight wins and eventually pushed that number to a school-record 15, a mark that included a pair of victories in the Big Ten Tournament en route to their championship game of that event and our soccer program's first-ever invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Knocking it out of the park academically. For the second straight year, Iowa set a new record in the NCAA's "Graduation Success Rate" or GSR with a score of 88 percent, a mark that is seven points better than the national average. An electrifying performance. The Hawkeyes defeated 18th-ranked Michigan and No. 6 Penn State — the tournament's No. 1 seed — in overtime to advance to the championship game of the 2014 Big Ten Field Hockey Tournament. Tracey Griesbaum's team lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to Michigan State in its bid for a fifth Big Ten Tournament title. Big victories and a sunny reward for a job well done. Wins in three trophy games — all on the road — by the football team, including a season-ending victory at Nebraska in the Hy-Vee Heroes Game, propelled Kirk Ferentz's squad to an invitation to the 2014 Outback Bowl, Iowa's fourth appearance in Tampa, Fla., on New Year's Day under the Hawkeyes' veteran head coach, and its 27th bowl game all-time. Solid if not spectacular. Fran McCaffery and Lisa Bluder's basketball teams combined to win 24 of their first 28 games. It's unreasonable to think the two teams can keep that pace up through the conference play and their postseason tournaments, but I like the chances of both Hawkeye squads being in the mix when March Madness takes center stage. Happy New Year and Go Hawks! 4

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