In the final race of Sunday’s Big Ten Track and Field Championships, Antonio Woodard celebrated his first Big Ten title.
Woodard ran the second leg of Iowa’s 4x400-meter relay, which won in 3 minutes, 6.32 seconds.
“We were already in the lead,” Woodard said of his leg of the relay. “I couldn’t tell what was going on behind, but I kind of heard the Rutgers guy. … I knew he was going to be coming, but I held him off.”
Woodard could only watch the final two legs of the relay, but he couldn’t stop beaming a smile after the race ended and Iowa won.
He got a hug from Iowa coach Joey Woody, and Woodard embraced his relay teammates.
“It feels really good to have a first-place medal,” said Woodard, who is bisexual. “We got it done when we needed to get it done — when it mattered most.”
Woodard is the most recent but far from the only LGBTQ college athlete or coach to capture a conference title this school year.
There are 35 publicly out LGBTQ college athletes and coaches who won a conference title in 2017-18.
The titles came in 15 sports. Men’s swimming and diving possessed the most LGBTQ conference champions with nine athletes who won titles.
The athlete to capture the most conference titles this year was Texas women’s swimmer Kennedy Lohman, who helped the Longhorns win the Big 12 team title by winning three events — the 100-yard breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, the 400 medley relay.
Though most of the athletes have completed their seasons, Woodard still has the opportunity to claim more hardware.
The Iowa redshirt sophomore has qualified to run four events — 100 meters, 200, 4x100 relay, and 4x400 relay — in the NCAA postseason.
Woodard, who is talking publicly about his sexuality for the first time in this story, said he started coming out to close friends during high school. He’s been pretty open about his sexuality throughout college. It hasn’t hindered his success, and this season, he is thriving.
“I’m excited for regionals in two weeks then nationals,” Woodard said. “I’m in the best shape of my life.”
Antonio Woodard can be found on Instagram @DontSweatThisGuy.
2017-18 LGBTQ conference champions
Assistant coach Mark Johnson, Tampa (Sunshine State Conference regular season title)
Men’s Cross Country
Tucker Meijer, Amherst (NESCAC team title)
Cavender Salvadori, William & Mary (Colonial Athletic Association team title)
Matt Taylor, Willamette (Northwest Conference team title)
Nick Vucovich, Pomona-Pitzer (SCIAC team title)
Jake Leffew, Yale (Ivy League team title)
Eric Holley, Oklahoma (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation team title)
Men’s Swimming and Diving
Schuyler Bailar, Harvard (Ivy League team title)
Clark Carter, Indiana (Big Ten team title)
Chris Cassingham, Mary Washington (Capital Athletic Conference team title)
Jacob Cornish, Texas (Big 12 team title, 1-meter springboard)
Ayrton Kasemets, Oakland (Horizon League team title, 400-yard medley relay)
Scotia Mullin, Wyoming (WAC team title; 3-meter springboard diving; platform diving)
Anthony Musciano, Drexel (CAA 1-meter and 3-meter springboard diving)
David Pfeifer, Harvard (Ivy League team title)
Ryan Russi, Wyoming (WAC men’s team title)
Men’s Track & Field
Kyle Davis, Ithaca (Liberty League indoor team title)
Harrison Knowlton, Middlebury (NESCAC outdoor team title)
Jason Hadley, Mount Union (Ohio Athletic Conference indoor and outdoor track team titles)
Cal Neikirk, Pomona-Pitzer (SCIAC outdoor team title)
Austin Shupp, Shippensburg (PSAC indoor and outdoor team titles)
Nick Vucovich, Pomona-Pitzer (SCIAC outdoor team title)
Lucas White Moon, Pomona-Pitzer (SCIAC outdoor team title)
Antonio Woodard, Iowa (Big Ten outdoor 4x400-meter relay)
Justice Lord, Barton (Conference Carolinas regular season title)
Felipe Oliveira, Cardinal Stritch (CCAC regular season and tournament titles)
Head coach Jenny Allard, Harvard (Ivy League title)
Women’s Field Hockey
Chip Rogers, Miami Ohio (MAC regular season and tournament titles)
Assistant coach Randy Lane, UCLA (Pac-12 team title)
EJ Proctor, Duke (ACC regular season title)
Women’s Swimming & Diving
Kennedy Lohman, Texas (Big 12 team title, 100-yard breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, 400 medley relay)
G Ryan, Michigan (Big Ten team title; 800-yard freestyle relay)
Diving coach Patrick Jeffrey, Stanford (Pac-12 team title)
Head coach Simon Thibodeau, UC-Santa Barbara (Big West regular season title)
Women’s Track & Field
Emmonnie Henderson, Louisville (ACC indoor shot put)
Assistant Coach Drew Davis, Creighton (Big East regular season and tournament titles)
Erik Hall is a member of the Associated Press Sports Editors and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He can be reached on Facebook, Twitter @HallErik or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org