Feb. 27, 2016
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GENEVA, Ohio — The University of Iowa track and field team took home four Big Ten titles and produced 17 point-scoring marks on the final day of the 2016 Big Ten Indoor Championships at the SPIRE Institute on Saturday.
“I was proud of how our athletes competed this weekend,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “To have a lot of personal bests, two Big Ten champions on the men’s and women’s teams, and to qualify some for the national meet makes for a great indoor season.”
The Hawkeye women recorded their highest finish at a Big Ten indoor meet since 2008, compiling 50 points to place fifth overall, while the Iowa men (50 points) came in eighth.
“For the women to go from last to fifth in one year is a huge step,” Woody said. “I think the women really believe in what they’re able to achieve as a team. This conference isn’t getting any easier, so continuing to build is exactly what we want to be doing.”
After finishing runner-up to Nebraska’s Oladapo Akinmoladun a year ago, Mallett held off defending Big Ten champion Akinmoladun (2nd/7.71) to claim his first 60-meter hurdle crown in a career-best 7.69. Along with the new hardware, Mallett broke former Big Ten champion Jordan Mullen’s school record (7.70), which was set in 2013.
Mallett’s time enters a five-way tie for second in the nation.
“It doesn’t make me nervous being ranked that high,” Mallett said. “I’m glad I can run this fast even though I still have things to work on in my race. I’m happy to punch my ticket to the NCAA meet for the second-consecutive year, and hopefully it’ll result in a national championship. I’m ready to go.”
Junior Elexis Guster, a first-time Big Ten indoor champion, won the women’s 400 meters when she closed on Purdue’s Brionna Thomas (52.48) at the line. Guster turned in a collegiate-best 52.36, which puts her fifth nationally and second in school history.
“I’m still in disbelief because I’ve been having hamstring issues and didn’t practice for five days,” Guster said. “I didn’t want to be too aggressive cutting in, but when I got to the last 100 meters, it was time to take off.”
Guster is the first conference event-winner since former NCAA champion Kineke Alexander in 2007.
“I proved to myself that I can compete with the best, and I am one of the best,” Guster said. “It’s scary because I’ve never experienced this before, but it’s eye-opening and builds a lot of confidence because I’m not just a Big Ten champion, but an NCAA-level competitor. I’m going to use today to my advantage and do my best to represent the Hawkeyes at NCAAs.”
Not long after did junior Vinnie Saucer, Jr. (6.70) and senior Lake Kwaza (7.33) register back-to-back championship performances in the men’s and women’s 60 meters.
“I knew it was coming for Vinnie,” Woody said. “I told the other coaches that I thought he was going to win this thing. The sprints are all about momentum, and he kept bringing it every single week. I was really proud of him and Lake.”
Saucer moves to second all-time behind former All-American Justin Austin (6.69).
“I was hoping to get the school record in the final, but it still feels great,” Saucer said. “I’ve been working for this my whole college career, and I didn’t want that feeling of being runner-up again like last outdoor season.”
Kwaza (3rd), who combined for a total of 16 points, tacked on another personal-best performance (23.54) and earned her second Big Ten medal of the day when she returned to the track for the 200 meters. Her time ranks second in program history.
Also earning a podium spot was senior MonTayla Holder in the women’s 600 meters. Holder recorded a personal-best 1:29.35 to finish runner-up to Minnesota’s Titania Markland. Holder’s time continues to stand third on Iowa’s all-time list.
Senior Kerry Dean Jr. and freshman Peter Andreano highlighted the day for the Hawkeyes in the field events.
Andreano notched a sixth-place finish in the men’s high jump, clearing a personal-best 6-11 (2.11m). That mark ties for eighth all-time at Iowa. Dean ended seventh in the men’s triple jump to enter Iowa’s top-10 with the ninth-best jump in school history, 48-8 ¼ (14.84m).
The Hawkeyes concluded the Championships on a high note with a pair of top-16 nationally-ranked performances.
The women’s 1,600-meter relay of Holder, freshman Briana Guillory, junior Alexis Hernandez, and Guster shattered their school record with a four-second improvement to take third (3:32.93) overall. That time seeds 12th in the country.
The men’s quartet of juniors Mitch Wolff and Jared Ganschow, sophomore Carter Lilly, and freshman Mar’yea Harris finished fourth in a season-best 3:07.24. That time ranks third at Iowa and stands 16th nationally.
The 2016 NCAA Indoor Championships takes place in Birmingham, Alabama, from March 11-12.
Additional Big Ten Finalists from Day 2:
Men’s 60-meter hurdles:
Fr. Chris Douglas — 9th/8.07
Women’s 200 meters:
Fr. Briana Guillory — 6th/23.83
Men’s 400 meters:
Fr. Mar’yea Harris — 6th/46.88
Women’s 600 meters:
Jr. Mahnee Watts — 7th/1:31.08
Men’s 600 meters:
So. Carter Lilly — 5th/1:17.43
Men’s 800 meters:
Fr. Pavlo Hutsalyuk — 5th/1:50.27
Sr. Will Teubel — 7th/1:50.57
So. Michael Melchert — 6th/4:10.17