May 15, 2016
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LINCOLN, Neb. — The University of Iowa women’s 1,600-meter relay of junior Alexis Hernandez, freshman Briana Guillory, senior MonTayla Holder, and junior Elexis Guster broke the conference and the school record on the final day of the 2016 Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday.
The quartet turned in the nation’s 14th-fastest time at 3:31.22 to clinch the win over No. 16 Ohio State (2nd/3:31.59), topping the previous championship record of 3:31.77 set by Illinois in 2012. The foursome improved by over a second to best the former school record of 3:32.63 (Guster, Guillory, Holder, Hernandez) from the Texas Invitational on April 16.
“That was inspirational,” said UI director of track and field Joey Woody. “Guster barely got through the 200 because she had a really bad cramp in her calf. I didn’t even think she would be ready to go in the 4×400. MonTayla has been battling an achilles issue the last couple of weeks. For them to come back after all that, put up some great splits across the board, and to see Elexis catch the girl who beat her in the open 400 was impressive.”
The win marks Iowa’s third 1,600-meter relay title in women’s program history and the first since 2011.
“I think there’s a lot of things to be happy about and to move forward with, but we’re never going to be satisfied until we win the national championship,” said Woody.
The women’s 1,600-meter relay was one of four titles won by the Hawkeyes on the final day.
Junior All-American Aaron Mallett anchored the winning 400-meter relay (39.44) of junior Vinnie Saucer, Jr., freshman Christian Brissett, and senior James Harrington before defending his Big Ten title in the men’s 110-meter hurdles. The Iowa men have won the 400-meter relay three of the past four years. The quartet’s time ranks third in school history and 19th nationally.
“The 4×100 amped me up,” said Mallett. “Me being a part of that relay was huge for me. I’ve never been a part of a 4×100 relay that has run that fast and won a Big Ten championship, so that was a lot of fun.”
In a quick turnaround, Mallett came away with the stadium record in the 110-meter hurdles in a season-best 13.48, the fifth-fastest time in the NCAA. He won last year’s championship in a then-school record, 13.43, before improving that mark to 13.40 at the 2015 NCAA Championships.
“I had a race under my legs and I was ready to fire,” said Mallett, who is the fifth Big Ten athlete to win back-to-back championships in the event and the first in school history. “Going and doing what I did in the hurdles was a big pressure off my shoulders because Nebraska had four guys in there and they’re at their home track in front of a home crowd. I was coming in as the defending champion and I worked so hard to get to where I am. I just had to rely on myself. I executed my race the best I could, so I’m happy.”
Guillory returned to the track to become Iowa’s first Big Ten 200-meter champion in women’s program history, posting a career-best 22.95. The freshman ranks second all-time and 24th nationally.
The Iowa men tallied 86 points for fourth place overall, while the women’s squad (58 points) checked in at sixth.
“We wanted more,” said Woody. “This is a three-day roller-coaster, and we had our ups and our downs. We’re happy to come away with some Big Ten champions, but at the end of the day it still comes down to our team and how we compete to win a Big Ten championship. I felt like we left a lot of points on the track this weekend, but we’re excited about our opportunities moving forward. We have a lot of athletes that can do some big things at the national finals.”
The West Regional Championships is held from May 26-28 in Lawrence, Kansas. The NCAA Championships takes place in Eugene, Oregon, from June 8-11.
Men’s Top-Eight Placers, Plus Notables:
3. James Harrington
4. Vinnie Saucer, Jr.
2. James Harrington
6. Christian Brissett
4. Mar’yea Harris — 45.76 (PR; 4th all-time & 17th nationally)
4. Carter Lilly
1. Aaron Mallett — 13.48 (stadium record & 5th nationally)
5. Noah Larrison
6. Mitch Wolff
1. Saucer, Brissett, Harrington, Mallett — 39.44 (3rd all-time & 19th nationally)
4. Wolff, Harris, Lilly, Frye — 3:05.72 (6th all-time & 23rd nationally)
1. Kevin Spejcher — 7-1 3/4, 2.18m (22nd nationally)
2. Reno Tuufuli
5. William Dougherty — 7,311 points (PR; school record & 25th nationally)
Women’s Top-Eight Placers, Plus Notables:
6. Lake Kwaza
1. Briana Guillory — 22.95 (PR; 2nd all-time & 24th nationally)
7. Elexis Guster
8. Lake Kwaza
2. Elexis Guster
7. Alexis Hernandez
6. Mahnee Watts
3. MonTayla Holder
3. Kwaza, Guster, Guillory, Hernandez
1. Hernandez, Guillory, Holder, Guster — 3:31.22 (championship & school record, 14th nationally)
7. Jahisha Thomas
4. Jahisha Thomas