Season Preview Part 1: Sprinters Focus on Maturity in 2016

Dec. 13, 2015

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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa sprint group is a program staple at point-scoring championships, and this year is no different. The Hawkeyes are loaded on both the men’s and women’s side. Talent isn’t the question; it’s the maturity that is the 2016 wildcard.

“That will be the determining factor of how successful we are this season,” UI associate head coach Clive Roberts said. “The older athletes have to be leaders, and the freshmen have to grow up quickly.”


Hawkeye newcomers Taylor Chapman, Alexis Gay, Briana Guillory, Lydia Harod, and Jalynn Roberts-Lewis join a powerhouse of female sprinters that include All-Americans Brittany Brown (200, 4×100), Elexis Guster (400, 4×100), and Lake Kwaza (4×100).

Guster, a native of Atlanta, returns a wealth of experience and success to the program. The two-time defending Big Ten champion earned honorable-mention All-America honors in the 400 meters at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships.

But it doesn’t end there for the junior who did some learning of her own.

“It puts a lot of pressure on me but I’ve matured a lot and one thing I’m learning is to take one race at a time,” Guster said. “My vision is to be a Big Ten champion and All-American, especially indoors because it’s only the top 16. I need to focus more on myself and less on who’s chasing me to reach the next level.”

The Hawkeye sprinters opened the 2015-16 season at the Black & Gold Intrasquad on Dec. 5. Guillory made a mark in her collegiate debut, edging out Guster for the win and setting a meet record in the 300 meters (38.65).

“I’m going to keep working hard and doing every workout like it’s my last,” said Guillory, a native of Antioch, California. “The key for me is to never become complacent, and just know that when you get to this level, everyone is good.”

Senior James Harrington put on a show in his season opener, recording what would have been the fourth-fastest time at Iowa in the 60 meters (6.74).

The Cedar Falls, Iowa, native, whose signature event is the 200 meters, finished fourth in the event at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and was an All-American on the men’s 400-meter relay along with junior Vinnie Saucer, Jr., who was runner-up in the 100 meters at last year’s Big Ten Outdoor Championships.

What will be the key to greater success this season?

“Growing up and being more mature,” Harrington said. “Top speed is my biggest focus this season. I try to take out every 200 like a 60. My ultimate goal is to be a Big Ten champion and All-American, but in order to do that I have to work harder in practice and stay more focused.”

Joining Harrington and Saucer this season is 2014 All-American O’Shea Wilson (4×100).

“We return a lot of All-Americans and have an exceptional freshman class with Mar’yea Harris and DeJuan Frye,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “O’Shea Wilson is a phenomenal talent, who redshirted last season, and it’s great to have him back. Along with Harrington and Saucer, I have high expectations for those guys at the national level.”

The Hawkeyes open the regular season Jan. 9 at the Border Battle in Champaign, Illinois.

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