IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa City native, four-time All-American, and former world champion Joey Woody has been named director of track and field/cross country for the University of Iowa. Woody replaces Larry Wieczorek, who announced his retirement from the UI effective July 3.
Woody has been the associate head track and field coach for the UI since 2013 and served as assistant coach and director of sprint and hurdle events for the Hawkeyes since 2006. In addition to his coaching responsibilities, he was responsible for managing all home track and field events and assisted with the program’s budgeting and oversight of the academic achievement of its student-athletes.
“I am honored and excited to be the next Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at the University of Iowa,” said Woody. “As a native Iowan and lifelong Hawkeye fan, this is a dream come true for me and my family.
“I want to thank Gary Barta, Paula Jantz, and the UI senior staff for trusting me to lead this program to Big Ten and national prominence. I also want to thank my wife, Heather, and my entire family for supporting me throughout my competitive and coaching career.
“I also want to thank Coach Wieczorek for taking a chance on me and allowing me to pursue my dream. I am excited that we already have a tremendously successful coaching staff in place, and I plan to get started right away building a championship program that seeks the highest standards academically and athletically.”
Woody is known in the world of track and field for his deep understanding of technique and training, and the integration of technology that has greatly impacted the overall health and wellness of UI student-athletes. He has been integral in helping the UI Department of Intercollegiate Athletics establish its new Student-Athlete Performance framework for elevated success.
“I’m excited to have Joey Woody leading our program. He’s achieved success at a high level during each step in his career, and is well respected nationally in the track and field community,” said Gary Barta, UI director of athletics, who also noted that Woody has demonstrated the ability to collaborate, communicate, and build relationships throughout his career.
“We have a tremendous group of coaches and a great nucleus of student-athletes returning next year. I’m very optimistic about the future under Joey’s leadership.”
Woody’s experience also includes volunteer coach responsibilities at the UI in 2005, assistant coach responsibilities at the University of Northern Iowa for five years beginning in 1997, self-employment as a professional track athlete for 11 years beginning in 1997, and the co-owner/Sports Performance Director of Velocity Sports Performance in Cedar Rapids in 2005.
Since joining the UI track and field staff, Woody has guided student-athletes to 10 Big Ten Conference individual titles, three Big Ten relay titles, and 33 All-America honors.
This spring the men’s 400-meter relay won the Big Ten championship for the second consecutive year. Operating with four new members, the relay broke the school record for the second straight season, and ran to a sixth-place finish and All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In 2013, the Hawkeyes earned four individual conference titles and won the Big Ten championship in the 400-meter relay for the first time since 2001. The relay also twice broke the school record, topping out at 39.31 at the NCAA Championships. Woody earned his second career USTFCCCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year honor. He also earned the honor in 2011 when Iowa captured its first Big Ten team title in 44 years.
In 2012, Woody coached Erik Sowinski to the Big Ten Indoor 800 meter title, and a runner-up finish in the 800 meters at the NCAA Championships.
Woody led Iowa to three Big Ten titles and saw the Hawkeyes break eight school records in 2011. The men’s indoor 1,600-meter relay of Patrick Richards, Ethan Holmes, Sowinski and Steven Willey won its first conference championship since 1984. Woody led Justin Austin to four school records and a 200 meter outdoor conference championship. Austin’s 2011 performance earned him Big Ten Track Athlete of the Year and Big Ten Track Athlete of the Championships honors. He is just the fourth Hawkeye in school history to earn either honor, and he repeated the effort by sweeping both awards in 2013.
Woody also helped Holmes qualify for three events at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Holmes was a member of Iowa’s mile relay, and was the only NCAA student-athlete to qualify for both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles.
In 2010, Woody helped four athletes earn All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, including Willey, who was a two-time All-American following his performances in the 400 meters and 1,600-meter relay. Willey was joined on the seventh-place relay by Barton, Sowinski and Richards. Ray Varner also qualified for the NCAA Championships following his Big Ten title in the 400-meter hurdles. Willey also nabbed first team Big Ten honors after capturing the 400 meter championship.
In 2009, the men’s 400-meter relay of D’Juan Richardson, Zeke Sayon, Richards and Paul Chaney, Jr. won Iowa’s first Drake Relays title since 1998, placed third at the Big Ten meet and qualified for the NCAA regional. The 400-meter relay of Richardson, Sayon, Stephen Bee and Chaney, Jr., earned all-region honors. Chaney, Jr., and Sayon placed third and fifth, respectively, in the 100 meters at the Big Ten Championships, while Chaney placed fourth in the conference 200 meters. Varner earned his third all-region honor in the 400-meter hurdles, earning a bid to the national meet. Varner, Connor Elmitt and Richardson placed third, seventh and eighth, respectively, in the 400-meter hurdles at the Big Ten meet. The 1,600-meter relay of Barton, Richards, Varner and Willey provisionally qualified for the NCAA indoor meet, while the squad of Barton, Sowinski, Varner and Willey qualified for the NCAA regional.
In 2008, Varner earned his second all-region honor in the 400-meter hurdles after making a strong run at the Big Ten title in that event. Both 1,600-meter relays and the outdoor 400-meter relay each earned top five finishes at the Big Ten Championships.
In 2007, Varner and the 400-meter relay team of Max Milder, Aaron Reed, Lee Elbert, Chaney, Jr. earned all-region honors. Chaney, Jr., Varner, Prince Riley and the 1,600-meter relay of David Pierre, Elbert, Varner and Riley all scored team points for Iowa at the Big Ten meet.
Woody joined Iowa’s full-time staff after serving as a volunteer assistant coach with the Hawkeye sprinters and middle distance runners in 2006. He also served as sports performance director and co-owner of Velocity Sports Performance in Cedar Rapids (2005-06).
Woody has also run competitively on the international track circuit, earning a spot on three United States World teams. In 2003, he won the silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles at the World Championships and was ranked second in the world in the event. Woody was also part of the 1,600-meter relay which won the World Championships gold medal in 1999. In 2000, he was a member of the 3,200-meter relay which set a world record and he missed qualifying for the United States Olympic team by .37 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles.
Woody was a four-time All-American at Northern Iowa, winning the 1997 NCAA title in the 400-meter hurdles. He was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame in 2002. He is the only athlete in Drake Relays history to win the Athlete of the Meet award in high school (1992) and college (1994). Woody earned a B.A. in public relations and communications from UNI in 1997, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in physical education with an exercise science emphasis.
He served as assistant coach for men and women’s track at UNI for five seasons (1997-2002). During that time the Panthers won six Missouri Valley Conference team titles, including the first-ever women’s title in 2002. He coached one individual All-American and assisted in coaching two All-American relays.
Woody and his wife, Heather, have two children, Drake and Isabelle. Heather was an all-conference track student-athlete at Northern Iowa, and currently owns Heather Woody Unlimited, INC., which is a corporate and personal success coaching practice.