A Literal Race to the Finish

March 11, 2016

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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


IOWA CITY, Iowa — Emotions and expectations were mixed this week in the University of Iowa track and field locker rooms.

For some, advancing to the 2016 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships was the goal, so preparing for the final race of the season produced both relief and anxiety.


For others, like Hawkeye junior Aaron Mallett, there is no relief. Mallet’s been here before. He placed sixth in the 60-meter hurdles and earned first-team All-America honors in 2015. That experience smothered any lingering anxiety, and fanned the flames of excitement.

“I’m going into it this year with a lot more intensity, a lot more fire,” said Mallett. “The first time I was just sitting back. I was an All-American, but I kind of let other people have their shot. This time I want to make it my show when it comes to my event. I want to go out there and show people what I’m capable of and what Iowa is all about.”

This year Iowa is about three individual qualifiers — Elexis Guster, Mallet, and Will Teubel — and the women’s 1,600-meter relay. It’s the highest number of qualifying events Iowa has had since the NCAA adopted its current indoor qualifying standards prior to the 2012 season.

The top 16 individuals and 12 relays in the country were invited to Birmingham, Alabama, to compete for national championships Friday and Saturday. So needless to say, the field is loaded.

Teubel is running the men’s 800 meters. Guster is running the women’s 400 meters, and anchoring the women’s 1,600-meter relay with teammates MonTayla Holder, Briana Guillory, and Alexis Hernandez.

Guster and Holder have been on the NCAA finals stage before, but never on the indoor level.

“I’m a little bit nervous because this is my first time, but I know I can run with the other girls, so it’s just about being in that fire and competing with them,” said Guster, the reigning Big Ten champion in the 400 meters. “I know I’m going to run something fast. My only goal this week is to run my hardest and just compete. I have the opportunity, so now it’s about continuing to do what I’ve been doing the whole season.”

Teubel, Guillory, and Hernandez have never advanced this deep into the season. It’s the first of many opportunities for the freshman Guillory, and the final time to cash in for the senior Teubel.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Teubel said. “I made it to the regional meet a couple of times, so it’s great that I made it to the national meet. Even though I didn’t have the most consistent year, I knew I was able to compete at this level.”

Teubel snagged the 16th and final qualifying spot in an 800-meter field that includes seven runners with qualifying times under the 1 minute 47 second mark. Teubel’s personal best is 1:47.74, but that could improve with a rising tide.

“I want to make it to the finals so I can be first-team All-American,” Teubel said. “I think I have a good strategy to do that. I should be in the faster heat, so I have to set myself up and execute my race to get into the finals. I don’t need to think, I just need to follow some people.”

The women’s 1,600-meter relay is the 11thseed. They earned their qualifying mark of 3:32.93 at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.

“It’s special to be a part of such a great group of girls and get to run with such supportive teammates,” said Hernandez. “It’s also just exciting to go out there and make a statement, run for our team, and show the rest of the country that we are one of the best 4x4s in the nation.”

The championships begin Friday at 4:30 p.m. (CT) with semifinal competition. The finals begin Saturday at 3 p.m. ESPN3 will stream the meet live Friday starting at 5:25 p.m. (CT) and Saturday starting at 3:55 p.m.

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