Jan. 9, 2016
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CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — The University of Iowa track and field team kicked off the 2016 indoor season with 11 first-place finishes at the Border Battle on Saturday. The men’s team finished ahead of Illinois (81-73) and Missouri (85-65) to claim first overall, while the women’s team came in a close third (Illinois: 68-67; Missouri: 73-63).
“I was proud with how we competed,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “This is a great meet to have at the beginning of the year because it takes the athletes to a whole new level and it keeps them more focused over winter break to make sure they’re training at a high level.
“Every athlete competed to win, and I was really impressed with our freshmen; today was a good sign for us heading into the next couple of weeks.”
Senior Lake Kwaza improved on her prelim time in the women’s 60-meter final (7.45) to finish ahead of Missouri’s LaQuisha Jackson, who had posted the fastest time of the day in the preliminary round (7.44). Kwaza, the school-record holder in the event (7.41), ran what would have been the fourth-fastest time in school history.
“I felt good from a technical standpoint,” Kwaza said. “That’s what I’ve been working on, and I thought I executed well. I was worried about [Jackson], but I told myself `this is my senior year; go for it.’ I expected a win and I got it.”
It may not have been the race he expected, but junior All-American Aaron Mallett still managed to finish on top of the men’s 60-meter hurdle field in 7.95.
“It wasn’t the time I wanted, but anything under eight seconds is good for me,” Mallett said. “I could have raced cleaner. I stumbled off the blocks and hit a lot of hurdles, but to come back and win made it a good race from that aspect. Once I get all the kinks worked out, I’ll be ready to run fast.”
The Hawkeyes had success in the circle when junior Avery Meyers took first in the men’s shot put on his final throw (56-0.50, 17.08m).
“Overall, I was glad to finish as strong as I did,” Meyers said. “Sometimes early rounds don’t always go your way and hopefully they’ll go better than they did today, but I think it was first-competition nerves. We’ve been working on things [in practice] and I wasn’t able to carry those over to the first couple of rounds, but then on five and six I finally hit what we’ve been working on and ended with an OK mark.”
Three Hawkeye freshmen had their collegiate debuts result in wins. Christian Brissett (21.74) and Briana Guillory (24.41) finished atop the men’s and women’s 200-meter fields, while Tria Seawater-Simmons leaped 37-03 (11.35m) in the women’s triple jump. That mark ranks eighth all-time at Iowa.
The Hawkeyes swept the 1,600-meter relays to conclude the meet. For the women, Guillory, senior MonTayla Holder, junior Mahnee Watts, and Guster finished first in 3:46.84, while the men’s quartet of senior Mitch Wolff, freshman DeJuan Frye, Mallett, and freshman Mar’yea Harris posted a winning time of 3:15.89.
“[This meet] definitely gets our minds focused on the next step, and that’s to have a good meet next week,” Woody said. “This is just the start, and the athletes know that. It’s a good sign of where we’re at as a program, but we have a long way to go.”
In his first indoor appearance since 2014, junior O’Shea Wilson posted the sixth-fastest time in school history in the men’s 60 meters (6.76) to finish third, overall.
In his collegiate debut, freshman Andy Jatis sneaked into Iowa’s all-time list when he cleared 16-0.75 (4.90m) in the pole vault to claim second place, overall. That mark ranks ninth in school history.