By JACK ROSSI
DES MOINES, Iowa – The University of Iowa Men’s track and field Team captured the 2017 Hyvee Cup at the Drake Relays on Saturday.
Iowa takes the title back to Iowa City after accumulating 39 team points including three relay victories. The three relay wins are the most for Iowa at the Drake Relays in the event’s 108-year history. The women’s team finished seventh with 12 points.
“This has been one of our goals the past few years since they came up with this concept,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said of the championship. “It’s a lot of fun and it makes it a team atmosphere. This is what we have been talking about all year, winning relays and individual titles because we did well individually too.”
The Hawkeye men won the 4×800 meters (7:24.77), 4×400 meters (3:07.35), and sprint medley relay (3:20.40).
Iowa runs two sophomores and two freshmen on the 4×400 meter relay. As the team enters the postseason, their relays are clicking.
“To be a freshman and to be surrounded by these guys is great,” freshman Emmanuel Ogwo said about his 4×400 teammates. “They take their job very seriously so coming into practice every day, the energy is high and the expectations are high.”
In addition, Iowa has won the sprint medley relay in three out of the past six years at the Drake Relays and won their first 4×400 meter relay since 1967.
Junior Carter Lilly was on two championship relays – the sprint medley relay and 4×800. As a native Iowan, there is nothing better than coming to Drake and giving the fans a show.
“It’s always fun to come to Drake and win flags,” Lilly said. “I’ve wanted to be a Hawkeye since I was a kid so to be able to come here and represent the University is really cool.”
The women joined in with a win of their own in the 4×100 meters. The squad of sophomore Taylor Chapman, sophomore Briana Guillory, senior Alexis Hernandez, and junior Brittany Brown came from behind on the front stretch to win their first relay title in the event since 2014.
Individually, senior Aaron Mallett won his first Drake Relays title in his final appearance as a Hawkeye. Mallett’s 13.47 in the 110 meter hurdles won the event and was a seasons best.
“He’s been fighting to get that title the past couple years,” Woody said. “Unfortunately he has had some Olympic gold medalists in front of him. For him to come out on top was great and he had a phenomenal performance today that will set him up well for Big Tens.”
Sophomore Reno Tuufuli won Iowa’s fifth title of the weekend with a 59.34m mark in the men’s discus for his first Drake Relay championship and in his second appearance at the event.
“It’s been a very successful meet for me,” Tuufuli said. “I never came here in high school but to see it in college is very overwhelming.”
Moving forward there is one standard for Woody’s team.
“We expect success every time we step on the track.” he said.
The postseason begins with the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Penn State May 12-14.