EUGENE, Oregon — Antonio Woodard felt hope for about 10 minutes.
The Iowa 4x400-meter relay, which included Woodard, finished fourth during the event’s first heat at the NCAA Track and Field Championships preliminary round. The Hawkeyes needed to beat the third-place team in the remaining two heats to advance to Friday’s finals.
After Heat 2, Iowa remained in the finals.
Woodard watched a TV from the Hayward Field warmup area during Heat 3, and he saw Stanford finish 0.11 seconds ahead of his relay to snag the final spot in the finals.
“I was very disappointed and kind of look back and just wish you did more,” said Woodard, who is bisexual. “You wonder what could have been and what we could have done better. But that’s track and field for you.”
The Iowa 4x400 relay ran the seventh fastest time (3 minutes, 4.93 seconds) during the June 6 preliminary round heats, but since the top two teams from each heat automatically advance, Iowa finished in ninth place even though the Hawkeyes were faster than every team in Heat 2.
By finishing ninth, Woodard — the second leg of the relay — and the other three relay members earn second-team All-American honors at the 2018 NCAA Track and Field Championships, which were held at the University of Oregon.
“This just makes me hungrier and want to get to work next year — get back and compete with some of the best guys in the country and the world,” said Woodard, who was competing at his first NCAA Track and Field Championships.
“It was nice to even be in the conversation as an All-American. It’s definitely very humbling. It’s good to see where I need to be and what I need to improve on and how far I need to go to get to where I want to be.”
The 6-foot, 165-pound Woodard also ran the opening leg of Iowa’s 4x100 relay, which finished 17th in 39.63 seconds.
Despite running from Lane 1, the Hawkeyes 4x100 ran its second fastest time of the season.
Woodard felt good about the race from the moment he handed off to teammate O’Shea Wilson.
“The first handoff was a great handoff,” Woodard said. “We usually have pretty good handoffs, but that was definitely one of the best transitions we’ve had this year.”
Highlighted by helping the Iowa 4x400 relay win at the Big Ten Conference meet and earn NCAA All-American honors, Woodard feels positive about his first full season running healthy for the Hawkeyes.
“It was an exceptional year,” said Woodard, a redshirt sophomore. “I would say this is definitely a breakout year for me running some of the fastest times in the country on relays. … I would have liked to run a lot faster, but you got to start from somewhere. This is the fastest I’ve run ever.”
Antonio Woodard can be found on Instagram at @DontSweatThisGuy.
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 email@example.com.