By JACK ROSSI
EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Iowa track and field team finished the first day of the NCAA Championships on Historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on Wednesday.
The men competed on Wednesday and the day ended with Iowa sending one individual and one relay to Friday’s finals. Senior Aaron Mallett will make his second trip to finals in the 110 meter hurdles while the men’s 4×400 meter relay will go for the first time since 2011.
Mallett ran 13.44 to finish fourth in the event and reserve a seat in the finals. Mallett is looking to become Iowa’s first individual NCAA Champion since 1998 when Bashir Yamini won the long jump.
“I want to take it all now,” Mallett said. “You want to leave everything out here. This is my last collegiate meet, so I am going to go out there, give it my all, and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
“He did what he needed to do to get into the final,” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said. “He said he has a lot left in the tank. He stayed smooth today, but he is dialed in for finals.”
The men’s 4×400 meter relay of sophomore DeJuan Frye, freshman Emmanuel Ogwo, freshman Collin Hofacker, and sophomore Mar’yea Harris followed up their school record in Texas with a 3:03.74 to qualify on time as the coaches were eagerly awaiting the times from the final heat.
“Coach Wakenight and I were nervous,” Woody said. “Those guys ran well. We’ve got a lot more in the tank. What is exciting is that we are less than a half a second away from second place going into the final and anything can happen on that final day.”
At the halfway points in the men’s decathlon junior Will Dougherty sits 18th overall with 3,826 points. He began the day and ended the day with personal best in the 100 meters (11.04) and 400 meters (49.26), but the scale of the meet did throw Dougherty off.
“I’d say I definitely started the day off well,” Dougherty said. “Coach Woody has me primed and ready to go. I tied my PR in the 100 meters, but the venue and the nature of the being at nationals got to me a little bit, but after talking to Coach Knodle, she told me to relax and have fun.”
Dougherty is a day two decathlete with his best events set to begin tomorrow during the final five events of the decathlon.
“The 400 meters was a good way to end the meet and it gives me a lot of confidence for tomorrow,” Dougherty said. “The nerves are all out and I am ready to compete.”
While Dougherty finishes the decathlon, the women will take center stage. Junior Jahisha Thomas (long jump) and junior Brittany Brown (200 meters) will compete for Iowa and the duo are expected to do big things this tomorrow.
“Both those girls are athletes that can make the final and score points for us.” Woody said.
In addition, the men’s 4×100 relay team of sophomore Christian Brissett, junior O’Shea Wilson, senior Brendan Thompson, and senior Aaron Mallett set the school record in the event with a time of 39.12, breaking the record set in 2014. However, the group failed to make finals as they finished 12th and were named second team All-Americans
Sophomore Mar’yea Harris was the second athlete out in the 400 meters with a time of 45.54, but he was named a second team All-American for the first time in his career.
Dougherty opens for Iowa in the decathlon 110 meter hurdles at 12:30 p.m. (CT) while Thomas and Brown are set to compete at 8 p.m. and 8:44 p.m., respectively. The meet will air on ESPN2, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Second Team All-Americans
Christian Brissett — 4×100
Mar’yea Harris — 400 meters
Aaron Mallett — 4×100
Brendan Thompson — 4×100
O’Shea Wilson — Long Jump, 4×100