Feb. 13, 2016
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Senior MonTayla Holder, juniors Elexis Guster and Alexis Hernandez, and freshman Briana Guillory formed the fastest 1,600-meter relay in University of Iowa track and field history on the final day of the Tyson Invitational on Saturday. Team scores were not tallied.
Clocking 3:36.47 in the invitational division, the quartet (10th) nipped the previous school record of 3:36.97 set by Ashley Liverpool, Tiffany Hendricks, Bethany Praska, and Nicole Erickson in 2011.
Competing in a field that featured seven top-25 relays, including Iowa (24th), the Hawkeyes front-loaded the order in response to the high level of competition.
“It was going to be a fast race, and we wanted to be up in the mix right away,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said on Guster running second leg. “We knew Briana was going to run a good anchor leg for us; she split 52.6. That was a big performance and confidence booster for her. I thought it was a good change of the order to make sure that we were competing with the fast heat.”
The quartet was on the brink of breaking the school record at the Meyo Invitational last weekend (3:36.99) and operated with the same four members who own 400-meter collegiate bests within Iowa’s top 10: Guster (4th/53.32), Guillory (6th/54.24), Holder (7th/54.32), and Hernandez (8th/54.91).
“If we take each of their personal bests, I think we can run 3:34,” Woody said. “It’s just a matter of doing it on the right day and doing it together. I thought it was a good overall effort, but they know they have a lot more to give and that they can improve quite a bit on this performance.”
The Hawkeyes have their eyes set on the Big Ten Championships, which will be contested from Feb. 26-27. Iowa trails conference-leader Ohio State (3:33.38).
“We always talk about wanting to be in the fire,” Woody said. “We want our athletes to always be challenged against the best teams in the country. [The relay] is moving in that direction, but they have to be in the fire to know what it takes to compete at this level. Our girls want to make the national meet, so we have to be able to compete against those teams that will be there.”
The women’s 1,600-meter relay is the second school record to fall this season.
The Hawkeyes hit their final meet before the championship portion of their schedule, heading to South Bend, Indiana, for the Alex Wilson Invitational on Feb. 20.
Junior Avery Meyers (56-7 ¼, 17.25m) had Iowa’s top finish in the field events, placing eighth in the men’s shot put.
In the men’s sprints, freshman Christian Brissett (22nd) tied his collegiate-best 21.72 in the 200 meters.