The University of Iowa men’s track and field team capped their season with a 17th place finish at the NCAA Championships on Friday on Historic Hayward Field.
Courtesy Hawkeye Sports, click here! Feature photo: Aaron Mallett-Iowa©Darren Miller hawkeyesports.com
Iowa tallied 15 points to place 17th overall. They grabbed contributions from senior Aaron Mallett, sophomore Reno Tuufuli, and the 4×400 meter relay team of freshman DeJuan Frye, sophomore Mar’yea Harris, freshman Collin Hofacker, and freshman Emmanuel Ogwo, who were all named first team All-Americans.
The 4×400 team ran a school record 3:01.91 to finish third overall, the Hawkeyes highest ever finish in the event and they did so with all underclassmen and Ogwo on the anchor, who has not anchored this season.
“Coach Woody told me yesterday,” Ogwo said. “A lightbulb clicked in his head and he said. ‘How do you feel about running on the anchor?’ We knew if Mar’yea got in the second leg and ran his 43.9 split then we knew we would be top three in the race.”
Iowa was in position to strike until Ogwo got stuck in the back of the pack on the final lap, His late kick boosted him to the front where he nearly held onto third.
“My plan was to kick the last 150 meters, but I was caged in,” Ogwo said. “Grant Holloway from Florida was on my outside and Fred Kerley from Texas A&M was in front of me, so I made sure I didn’t panic, got to the straight away and knew I could get out to lane three or four. I put my head down and gave it all I had.”
This is the second straight meet that the Hawkeyes have broken the school record in the 4×400 relay. At the NCAA qualifier in Austin, Texas, Iowa ran the program’s first sub 3:03.00 to win their heat and run the second fastest time in their region.
Mallett came into the finals as one of the favorites in the 110 meter hurdles and after giving everything he had, Mallett finished in fourth place finish with a time of 13.65.
“I was aiming higher,” Mallett said. “I went out there and put my best foot forward and Coach Woody did everything he could to get me prepared.
“It was one of my best starts ever. I got a little excited over the second hurdle and the others surged ahead of me. I executed my race, but that little mistake cost me a higher finish. I am disappointed, but I can’t be very disappointed.
Mallett finished his career as one of the Hawkeye’s best ever as he claimed his fifth All-American honor, joining all-time Hawkeye greats like Erik Sowinski, Justin Austin, and Bashir Yamini as athletes who had earned five All-American honors.
Tuufuli won the discus in the NCAA West Preliminary, but was stacked up against some of the best during a rainy evening in Eugene. He finished fifth with a final mark of 59.81m. He was much happier this season after fouling out during his freshman year, but the nerves still played a part.
“I was nervous in the warm ups,” Tuufuli said. “After I took my first throw I relaxed more because I knew that if I was tense and tight that I wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted to do.”
The Hawkeyes finished highest of the Big Ten teams ahead of Penn State by one point. Florida won the team title with 61.5 points.
The women conclude their season tomorrow with Brittany Brown and LauLauga Tausaga set to compete in the 200 meters and discus, respectively. The discus is scheduled to start at 5:05 p.m. (CT).
A day after the men finished their season, the University of Iowa track and field women closed the book on the 2017 track and field season.
JuniorBrittany Brown and freshman Laulauga Tausaga entered Hayward Field on Saturday as Iowa’s final competitors and they did not disappoint. Brown finished seventh in the 200 meters and Tausaga finished seventh in the discus as Iowa finished in 48th place with 4 points.
Brown became the first Hawkeye in program history to be named a first team All-American in the 200 meters. She finished seventh with a time of 23.02.
“It’s amazing and it’s a great feeling to be the first to be an All-American in the 200,” Brown said.
But the race didn’t come without drama. On the final stretch, an Oregon runner fell in Brown’s lane forcing Brown to move around her, costing a higher finish and team points.
“I am a stronger finisher and so I was picking up speed,” Brown said. “Everybody saw what happened after that. She went down and I had to go around her. That was shocking and I thought I was going to get DQ’d. I hope she is ok and I wish it would have went better but it is what it is.”
The 2017 Big Ten Champion made her third appearance at the NCAA Championships after finishing 11th in the 200 meters and 16th in the 4×100. In 2015, she placed 17th in the 200 meters.
Tausaga concluded her freshman campaign, establishing herself as one of the best discus throwers in the country with a seventh place finish. Tausaga recorded a final mark of 55.71m (182-9).
“In the beginning of the outdoor season I didn’t expect to be where I am now,” Tausaga said “I thought I would have done better, but I have seen so much progress, I have PR’d as much as I have wanted to and I met all my goals.”
The last time Iowa had a freshman win All-American honors in an individual event was Brittany Brown in 2014.
“I am really proud of this season,” Tausaga said. “I can definitely compete with these girls. It was an off day for me, but I know that if I stay in my lane and not worry about everybody else then I can get a higher spot on that podium.”
Oregon won the team title with 64 points
Next up for Iowa is the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, California, June 22-25. Select Hawkeyes will represent Iowa.