Feb. 26, 2016
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GENEVA, Ohio — The University of Iowa track and field team had 17 student-athletes advance to the finals on the opening day of the 2016 Big Ten Indoor Championships on Friday.
The Hawkeyes posted 19 career bests, 12 of which were Iowa all-time marks.
“Overall, this was a great first day for our program,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “All the athletes came out and gave it their best. We had a lot of personal bests, and those that didn’t have a personal best still made the finals. The number one goal going into today was for every athlete to compete like a champion and make the final. We set ourselves up well for success tomorrow.”
Three Hawkeyes made final appearances in the field events.
“For them to make the Big Ten finals in the shot put is saying something,” UI throws coach Andrew Dubs said. “This is by far the best shot put conference in the country. Avery didn’t quite like his distance, but it’s still the third-best throw he’s ever had, and his best performance at a Big Ten meet.
“For Reno to come in fifth as a freshman, just his third meet of the year, is absolutely outstanding. He had two other throws in the series over 18.10 meters and he’s the fifth-ranked freshman in the country.”
For the women, sophomore Jahisha Thomas (20-0 1/4, 6.10m) added five team points for her fourth-place finish in the long jump.
On the track for Iowa, senior Lake Kwaza snapped her own school record in the preliminary round of the women’s 60 meters when she posted the fastest qualifying time, 7.33. The previous school record (7.41), which she held with junior Brittany Brown, was set in 2014.
Junior Vinnie Saucer, Jr. followed suit in the men’s 60 meters, winning his heat in a collegiate-best 6.72. He enters Saturday’s race seeded second.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Kwaza said. “It feels good to finally achieve it. It runs through my head all the time that it’s my senior year. I kept telling myself, `I’m a senior; this is it’. That has played a big part in my success here so far.”
Kwaza (23.67) will also have a chance to compete for the 200-meter crown, along with freshman Briana Guillory (23.69). The pair automatically qualified after winning their heats in personal bests.
The women’s 200 meters is one of four event finals that will feature a pair of Hawkeyes.
Junior All-American and 2015 Big Ten runner-up Aaron Mallett (7.81) automatically qualified for the men’s 60-meter hurdle final after finishing second in his heat. Freshman Chris Douglas hit a personal-best 7.96 to advance by time.
In the men’s 800 meters, senior Will Teubel (1:49.76) and freshman Pavlo Hutsalyuk (1:50.07) made it through to the event finals, while the women’s 600 meters will include heat winners senior MonTayla Holder (1:30.46) and junior Mahnee Watts, who ran a career-best 1:30.41 to make her first championship final.
Other event finalists include sophomore Carter Lilly, who ran a collegiate-best 1:17.34 in the men’s 600 meters. That mark ranks second all-time at Iowa.
In the preliminary round of the men’s mile, the Big Ten witnessed sophomore Michael Melchert’s speed as he clipped every competitor on the bell lap to win his heat in 4:07.60. Melchert enters Saturday’s final with the third-fastest prelim time.
“I didn’t want to wrestle around with a lot of guys and lose a lot of energy, so I just waited until the last 300 to take off,” Melchert said. “I knew I had speed coming in, and coach and I thought the mile was our best shot because a lot of the races here are sit-and-kicks. I’m excited to get back out there and compete again.”
Freshman Mar’yea Harris and junior Elexis Guster will compete for the Big Ten title in the men’s and women’s 400 meters. Harris clocked a collegiate-best 46.83 to earn a spot in the final, while Guster was the top finisher in her heat with a personal-best 53.13.
After six events scored, the Iowa women (five points) are tied for 11th. The Hawkeye men (four points) are 12th in the team standings after five events tallied.
The Big Ten Indoor Championships resumes Saturday at 9 a.m. (CT) inside the SPIRE Institute.
Day 1 Collegiate Bests & Other Notables:
So. William Dougherty — stands 15th after four events scored
60 meters — 7.28
Shot put — 42-5 1/2, 12.94m (ties PR)
Men’s 60 meters:
Jr. Vinnie Saucer, Jr. — 6.72 (2nd all-time)
Women’s 60 meters:
Sr. Lake Kwaza — 7.33 (school record)
Men’s 60-meter hurdles:
Fr. Chris Douglas — 7.96 (5th all-time)
Women’s 400 meters:
Jr. Elexis Guster — 53.13 (4th all-time)
Women’s 600 meters:
Jr. Mahnee Watts — 1:30.41 (4th all-time)
Women’s 800 meters:
Jr. Jordyn Sindt — 2:12.91
Men’s 3,000 meters (unseeded):
Fr. Daniel Soto — 8:24.12
Women’s 3,000 meters (unseeded):
Fr. Andrea Shine — 10:10.51
Men’s shot put:
RS Fr. Reno Tuufuli — 60-8 3/4, 18.51m (6th all-time)