May 28, 2016
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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Four individuals and three relays on the University of Iowa track and field team advanced to the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships on the final day of the NCAA West Preliminary Round at Rock Chalk Park.
Junior Aaron Mallett (110-meter hurdles), redshirt freshman Reno Tuufuli (discus), senior James Harrington (200 meters), and freshman Briana Guillory (200 meters) were individual qualifiers in their respective events from Saturday. Three of Iowa’s four relays earned championship berths, including the men’s and women’s 400-meter relays and the women’s school record-setting 1,600-meter relay.
Iowa advanced the highest number of total entries (22) to the national meet in combined program history. This is the first time in women’s program history both the 400-meter and 1,600-meter relays moved on in the same year.
“Obviously we would have loved to get the men’s 1,600-meter relay in, but I don’t want that to disrupt the feelings we have about this whole weekend,” said UI director of track and field Joey Woody. “We’re definitely doing some big things, so I’m extremely proud of the entire team and the way they competed with the adverse conditions. They really showed up this weekend. I’m proud of them for that.”
The women’s 400-meter relay of senior Lake Kwaza, junior Elexis Guster, Guillory, and junior Alexis Hernandez recorded the region’s sixth-best time of the day (44.59) and finished top three in their heat to automatically advance to the NCAA final site.
The Iowa men earned their fourth straight NCAA final appearance in the 400-meter relay, as junior Vinnie Saucer, Jr., freshman Christian Brissett, Harrington, and Mallett clocked the ninth-fastest regional qualifying time of 39.93.
Mallett then stepped onto the track to punch his return ticket in the men’s 110-meter hurdles.
“I just wanted to win my heat to get the automatic bid to Eugene,” said Mallett, who took the heat win in the region’s seventh-fastest qualifying time, 13.77. “It’s so unpredictable, and I wasn’t trying to focus so much on time. My goal is to hopefully get back to that final and have a shot at winning the national championship. That’s what I’ve been working towards all year. Despite what I ran at this meet, I’ll get myself back together in two weeks.”
In the field for Iowa, Tuufuli (184-6, 56.24m) put up his best mark of the day on his final throw in the men’s discus to earn the ninth qualifying spot from the West Region.
Also making individual championship berths were Harrington and Guillory in the men’s and women’s 200 meters, respectively. Harrington (20.72) earned his first bid in the event following a heat win, while Guillory (23.12) moved on by time.
“I think my heat was the only heat with the head-wind, so I knew on the turn it was going to be hard to qualify on time,” said Harrington. “I knew I just had to get first, so I pushed it to the finish off the turn.”
The Hawkeyes capped off a successful weekend with the women’s 1,600-meter relay. Once again, the quartet of Hernandez, Guillory, senior MonTayla Holder, and Guster reset their school record in 3:30.97, the sixth-fastest qualifying time out of the West Region, en route to becoming automatic qualifiers for Eugene.
“They definitely believe they can run under 3:30,” said Woody. “If they do that they’ll definitely have a shot at making the final. That’s the big goal is to get our 1,600-meter relay to the final and compete to score points at the national meet. They know they can run even faster. Not every athlete has run their PR at the same time yet, so I told them there is still another second or two in them, and they believe it.”
The 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships will be held from June 8-11 in Eugene, Oregon.
Complete List of 2016 NCAA Qualifiers:
Christian Brissett, 400-meter relay *
Briana Guillory, 200 meters *
Briana Guillory, 400-meter relay *
Briana Guillory, 1,600-meter relay *
Elexis Guster, 400 meters
Elexis Guster, 400-meter relay *
Elexis Guster, 1,600-meter relay *
James Harrington, 200 meters *
James Harrington, 400-meter relay *
Mar’yea Harris, 400 meters
Alexis Hernandez, 400-meter relay *
Alexis Hernandez, 1,600-meter relay *
MonTayla Holder, 400-meter hurdles
MonTayla Holder, 1,600-meter relay *
Lake Kwaza, 400-meter relay *
Carter Lilly, 800 meters
Aaron Mallett, 110-meter hurdles *
Aaron Mallett, 400-meter relay *
Vinnie Saucer, Jr., 400-meter relay *
Jahisha Thomas, long jump
Reno Tuufuli, discus *
Mitch Wolff, 400-meter hurdles
* – Saturday qualifiers