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T&F: Wieczorek announces retirement plans

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- After a career at the University of Iowa that included competition as a student-athlete, assistant coach, head coach, and director, and touched five different decades and hundreds of student-athletes, Larry Wieczorek, the director of track and field for the Iowa Hawkeyes, has announced plans to retire in July.

He will complete his third season as UI director of track and field/cross country and his 30th year on the UI staff later this month when 11 Hawkeyes participate at the 2014 NCAA Division I Mens and Womens Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

I am very fortunate that for 30 years I have been able to do something I love to do at a place that is very close to my heart, said Wieczorek. I have a great deal of respect for the University of Iowa. I did my best to move the track and field and cross country programs forward, and I am proud to say that I am leaving behind a tremendous coaching staff and a great group of student-athletes that have the Hawkeyes poised to fly higher than ever.

On the one hand, I am delighted for Larry and his wife, Jackie.  I am certain they are very excited about the next phase of their lives together.  On the other hand, it is extremely difficult for me to put into words the significance of Larrys many contributions not only to our track and field and cross country programs, but to our department, institution, and community. The University of Iowa will miss Larry tremendously, said Gary Barta, University of Iowa Director of Athletics.

Larry epitomizes what we mean when we say, Its great to be a Hawkeye, Barta continued. As a student-athlete, he achieved at the highest of levels. He did the same as an assistant coach, head coach, and director of track and field.  Championships, personal bests, All-Big Ten, and All-American numbers aside, what I admire most about Larry are the lasting relationships he built with his student-athletes. He has left our program with a terrific culture and strong foundation.

A member of Iowas Big Ten championship team in 1967, Wieczorek led the Hawkeyes back to the top of the league by capturing the 2011 Big Ten Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship at the UIs Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track.  The Hawkeyes crowned three champions that weekend and Wiezcorek was named Big Ten and USTFCCCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year.

A six-time Big Ten Conference champion and a four-time All-American as a cross country and distance runner for the Hawkeyes in the late 1960s, Wieczorek once held the league record in the one, two, three, four, and five-mile runs.

Wieczorek still owns Iowas indoor two-mile record and his indoor mile and outdoor 5,000-meter races rank second in school history.  He was honored for his collegiate accomplishments by the UI in 1998 when he was inducted into the National Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame.  He is also a member of the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.

Iowa has crowned 79 Big Ten champions and 53 All-Americans with Wieczorek at the helm. True to his goal of building a balanced track and field team, that list of honorees includes sprinters, middle distance and distance runners, hurdlers, relay teams, jumpers, throwers, and cross country standouts.

Under Wieczoreks leadership, 167 student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten honors. 

Wieczorek began his career at the UI in 1984 when he was hired as an assistant coach for the mens track and field program.  He became the head coach for the mens cross country program three years later.  In 1997, he took over for Ted Wheeler as head coach of the mens track and field program.  He was elevated into his current position of director of both Iowas mens and womens track and field programs in 2011.

Wieczorek returned to his alma mater after 11 seasons as head track coach at Proviso West High School in suburban Chicago.  He earned his bachelor of science degree in physical education from the UI in 1969 and his master of science degree in physical education from Northern Illinois University in 1973.

An internal search will be conducted to fill Wieczoreks vacated position as Director of Track and Field/Cross Country. After a director is named, the UI athletic department will conduct a national search to hire an assistant coach for events yet to be determined.

 
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