May 14, 2016
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LINCOLN, Neb. — University of Iowa track and field senior Kevin Spejcher earned the top podium spot in the men’s high jump on the second day of the 2016 Big Ten Outdoor Championships on Saturday.
Spejcher, who finished seventh at last year’s championships and runner-up in 2014, was the only competitor to clear the winning height of 7-1 3/4 (2.18m) before going out at 7-3 (2.21m).
“After practice the other day, I had one of those jumps where two meters was pretty easy, so I felt good,” said Spejcher. “As the meet kept going, it felt easier and easier on every jump. I knew I could win it. I just knew.”
The conference championship is the first of Spejcher’s career, and Iowa’s first in the men’s high jump since Ryan Kelly in 2008.
“As the meet kept going, it felt easier and easier on every jump. I knew I could win it. I just knew.”
UI senior Kevin Spejcher
Also earning a podium spot was redshirt freshman Reno Tuufuli (185-5, 56.51m), who added eight team points for his second-place finish in the men’s discus. He still owns the conference’s best mark this season at 199-2 (60.71m). Nebraska’s Percy Nicholas (188-5, 57.42) took the title.
“I didn’t feel like I had a lot of pressure on me,” said Tuufuli. “I just tried to stay relaxed, but I almost think I was too relaxed. I really thought I could have gotten after it more. It was one part of my technique that was lagging a little bit that caused me to throw higher than I wanted to, but I got a couple of good throws off. It’s no sense looking back thinking I should have won. I can just look forward and change what I can do then because the past is the past, but you could say I’m happy with today.”
In the men’s decathlon, redshirt sophomore William Dougherty climbed five spots to land fifth overall on the final day with a school record-breaking and career-best point total of 7,311. The previous school record was set by Kyle Reid (7,203 points) in 2013.
“It’s very surreal,” said Dougherty. “I didn’t think I’d be here at this point in time. Coming off the first day, everything went really well and just kept the ball rolling and ended up with four personal-best events [on day two] of the decathlon. I just took it one event at a time.”
Dougherty recorded personal bests in the 110-meter hurdles (7th; 15.12), discus (5th; 131-0, 39.94m), javelin (4th; 170-3, 51.90m), and 1,500 meters (1st; 4:34.94), while matching his collegiate-best mark in the pole vault (6th; 14-1 3/4, 4.31m).
“Training with Kyle and Jack Eckert last year definitely pushed me to a mark that I knew I was capable getting,” Dougherty said.
A seventh-place finish from sophomore Jahisha Thomas (19-6 3/4, 5.96m) in the long jump put the Hawkeye women (2 points) on the board, while the Iowa men (22 points) sit seventh in the team standings.
Seventeen Hawkeyes advanced to Sunday’s final round across 11 events.
Junior Elexis Guster delivered the day’s fastest preliminary times in two events — the women’s 200 meters (23.03) and 400 meters (53.86) — to automatically qualify to the finals. Her 200-meter time is a personal best that ranks second in school history.
Freshman Mar’yea Harris enters as the top seed in the men’s 400 meters, following a heat win in a collegiate-best 46.20, the fifth-fastest time in program history.
Senior James Harrington earned two automatic bids following heat wins in the men’s 100 meters (10.31) and 200 meters (20.87), while senior Lake Kwaza advanced by time in both events (100 meters/11.54; 200 meters/23.33).
Redshirt freshman Noah Larrison posted a career-best 50.94 in the men’s 400-meter hurdles for an automatic chance to compete for the Big Ten title alongside junior Mitch Wolff (51.30), who qualified by time.
Four more Hawkeyes won their heats to automatically qualify in their respective events — freshman Christian Brissett (20.89) in the men’s 200 meters, junior Mahnee Watts (2:09.64) in the women’s 800 meters, Aaron Mallett (14.14) in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, and senior MonTayla Holder (57.64) in the women’s 400-meter hurdles.
Junior Vinnie Saucer, Jr. (men’s 100 meters/10.45), freshman Briana Guillory (women’s 200 meters/23.33), junior Alexis Hernandez (women’s 400 meters/53.86), and sophomore Carter Lilly (men’s 800 meters/1:48.76) moved on by time.
Complete List of Sunday’s Qualifiers – Seed #, Name, Prelim Mark:
Women’s 100 meters:
6. Sr. Lake Kwaza — 11.54
Men’s 400 meters:
1. Mar’yea Harris — 46.20
Men’s 110-meter hurdles:
2. Jr. Aaron Mallett — 14.14
Women’s 400-meter hurdles:
2. Sr. MonTayla Holder — 57.64
Men’s 800 meters:
5. So. Carter Lilly — 1:48.76
Women’s 800 meters:
5. Jr. Mahnee Watts — 2:09.64