Feb. 12, 2016
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A small group of University of Iowa track and field athletes competed in day one of the Tyson Invitational on Friday. No team scores were kept.
En route to registering Iowa’s top finish of the day, junior All-American Aaron Mallett made it through two qualifying rounds of the men’s 60-meter hurdles to earn second place overall. After posting 7.91 in the prelims and 7.82 in the semi-finals, Mallett cut down to 7.73 in the finals to finish behind South Carolina’s Dondre Echols (7.69) while edging out Big Ten foe Oladapo Akinmoladun (7.74) of Nebraska.
“Aaron didn’t have his greatest races today,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “Even when he doesn’t have his best race, he’s still one of the best in the country, and he beat out the best hurdlers in the Big Ten today as well.”
Mallett’s personal-best 7.71, which he set at the Razorback Invitational on Jan. 30, would continue to tie for fourth in the country, while Echols’ 7.69 would tie for first.
“Aaron was slow on his reaction to the gun, but he was still able to maintain his composure and come back to get runner-up to a great athlete,” Woody said.
For the Hawkeye women, junior Elexis Guster (14th) continued to improve in the 400 meters this season. The Atlanta native clocked a collegiate-best 53.32 in the invitational section, updating her rankings on Iowa’s all-time list (4th) as well as in the Big Ten (2nd) for the second straight week.
“Elexis went out probably the fastest she’s ever gone out before,” Woody said. “She has to learn how to handle those paces if she wants to reach the goals she has for herself. I’m proud of her for attacking the race from the beginning. She’s definitely capable of running under 53 seconds in the 400 meters in these next few weeks.”
Freshman Briana Guillory, who competed in the regular 400 meters, took fourth in a personal-best 54.24. That mark moves her to sixth all-time at Iowa and would stand fifth in the Big Ten.
In the short sprints, junior Vinnie Saucer, Jr. (12th) registered two of his fastest times in the men’s 60 meters — first in the preliminary round (6.81) before ending with a collegiate best in the semi-finals (6.80). His semi-final time enters a three-way tie for ninth in school history.
“Vinnie has been putting together some great races,” Woody said. “He’s only competed a handful of times this year, so each race he’s gotten better and improved on the things we’ve been working on in practice. I definitely think he’ll be running his best at the Big Ten Championships and has a great shot at making the final and potentially the podium.”
The Hawkeyes return to action with field events at 11 a.m. (CT) followed by running events at noon.
“Tomorrow is going to be a great day for Iowa track and field,” Woody said. “I think we’re going to have the opportunity to have some national qualifiers and definitely individuals competing to be in that upper division of the Big Ten.”