By JACK ROSSI
AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Iowa track and field team clinched two more spots at the NCAA Championships on Friday during the second day of the NCAA West Preliminary.
Freshman Laulauga Tausaga and sophomore Mar’yea Harris will move onto Eugene after strong performances in the discus throw and 400 meters.
Harris will represent Iowa at NCAAs for the second straight season while Tausaga will compete as a true freshman. Iowa has had a freshman reach the NCAA Championships in three of the past four years (Brown 2014, Guillory 2016, Tausaga 2017).
Tausaga sparked Iowa in the first event of the day. The Spring Valley, California, native’s first throw was a personal best toss of 57.43 meters and followed her second throw with an even further throw (59.37 meters). She ended the day third overall and extended her school record in the event.
“Overall it was a good day,” Tausaga said. “I didn’t think the first throw went too far, but then when I heard it I said ‘oh yeah I am ready for more,’ and then I went out there and threw the second one, but then I got too excited and fouled the third throw.”
“I don’t know if I saw 59 meters coming,” Throwing coach Andrew Dubs said. “But she has been practicing around 57 meters pretty consistently, so I thought that she could hit one and she did.”
Tausaga now owns the furthest throw in the world in the U20 rankings, according to IAAF.org, and has five of the top 10 longest throws this year.
“I was nervous coming into Texas because I didn’t know if I could compete with these girls, but today I showed that I can compete with these girls and hopefully compete with them in Eugene.” Tausaga said.
Iowa’s other qualifier, Harris, entered today with the fastest time in the first round, clocking a personal best 45.66. He backed up that performance with a personal best again, going 45.45 to finish seventh overall in the quarterfinals.
“I am proud of Mar’yea today,” Woody said. “He came out and had a great race in the 400 meters and put together a phenomenal finish to make sure he punched his ticket to Eugene.”
Harris continues to improve his time and is closing in on Mike Mondane’s 45.20 set in 1967.
Tausaga and Harris join Thomas and Wilson who qualified yesterday in the women’s and men’s long jump.
Iowa returns to the track tomorrow for the final day of the NCAA West Preliminary where senior Aaron Mallett and junior Brittany Brown will vie for their spot at TrackTown USA.
Mallett finished with the top time in preliminaries in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing in 13.42 seconds reserving a spot in the quarterfinals and Brown’s 22.84 in the 200 meters earned her an automatic bid for tomorrow.
“Aaron had a great prelim race and looked really controlled. That will set him up well for tomorrow,” Woody said. “And Brittany had a great race in the 200 meters and that is good heading into tomorrow.”
In addition, Iowa will have athletes compete in the men’s and women’s 4×100 and 4×400, men’s discus throw, women’s shot put, men’s and women’s triple jump in a single round, three attempt competition to go to Eugene.
“There is still a lot to be excited about for tomorrow,” Woody said.
Iowa’s first event, the men’s discus, is scheduled for 1 p.m. (CT). The meet will be live streamed at texassports.com/watch and live results are available on hawkeyesports.com/tracklive.
Aaron Mallett – 110-meter hurdles, 13.42
Brittany Brown – 200 meters, 22.84