By JACK ROSSI
GENEVA, Ohio – The University of Iowa track and field team qualified 11 athletes during the first day of the Big Ten Championships inside the Spire Institute on Friday.
The Hawkeyes currently sit 6th (15 points) as a team on the men’s side and 11th (9 points) on the women’s side, but with much more points expected to come tomorrow, the team is looking forward to day two.
“We’re always a last day team,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “We expect to have athletes to make the final. We have two in the final in the 60-meters, two in the 60-meter hurdles, two in the 400-meters, one in the 800-meters and more. There are still a lot of points to be had.”
The first day did not go without its share of highlights with two school-records being broken. Junior Brittany Brown cruised to a school and Big Ten record in the 200-meters, posting a time of 22.79, surpassing Kineke Alexander’s record, which stood since 2006 as she won her heat and automatically qualified for day two.
“I had a really good practice and then my coach was going to say something and I stopped him,” Brown said. “He said ‘you know what that means’ and I said that what’s known doesn’t have to be said, but its been a long time coming.”
The second school-record was the men’s distance medley relay. The team of junior Carter Lilly, sophomore DeJuan Frye, freshman Matt Manternach, and senior Adam Jones beat the previous record by a second, running 9.44.07.
“We feel like this is a group that can eventually be a national caliber team that can get to a national meet,” Woody said. “I was very proud of the way Carter fought back to put us in a good position, Matt Manternach to get us back in the race, and Adam Jones to anchor the team.”
Senior Alexis Hernandez is another athlete who has been progressing in 2017, but had not had significant enough marks. During her 400-meter race, she qualified for finals with a personal-best 53.42.
“Coming into today I felt really confident and was ready to run,” Hernandez said. “There were a little bit of nerves, but they were getting-ready-to-compete nerves not nauseous nerves. I came in here with a chip on my shoulder because I have been progressing all season but not moving up in the rankings.”
Hernandez had finally gotten the movement she was looking for in the rankings as her time moves her up to fifth in Iowa history.
On the multi-events, junior Will Dougherty will continue during the second day in the heptathlon. Dougherty sits eighth after four events with the 60-meters and shot put being his best events, where he placed fifth and fourth, respectively.
“Overall, I was not super happy with my performance, but I am still in the field. There are people dropping out left and right and others aren’t doing so well. If I come back tomorrow ready to go then I will be able to put some points up on the board.”
The Hawkeyes conclude the Big Ten Championships at the Spire tomorrow beginning at 9 a.m. (CT). The meet will also be aired on BTN2Go and BTN Plus.
Brittany Brown – 200-meters
Alexis Hernandez – 400-meters
Aaron Mallett – 60-meter hurdles
Chris Douglas – 60-meter hurdles
Austin Lietz – 600-meters
O’Shea Wilson – 60-meters
Vinnie Saucer – 60-meters
Jahisha Thomas – 60-meter hurdles
Carter Lilly – 800-meters
Mar’yea Harris – 400-meters
Emmanuel Ogwo – 400-meters
Jenny Kimbro – 3 points: Pentathlon
Reno Tuufuli – 5 points: Shot Put
Men’s Distance Medley Relay: 2 points
O’Shea Wilson – Long Jump: 8 points
Jahisha Thomas — Long Jump: 6 points