|Editor’s Note: This is the second in a five-part series previewing the University of Iowa track and field team’s indoor season. The second installment previews the Hawkeye middle distance and long sprints.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — One of the University of Iowa track and field team’s strongest event areas last season — middle distance — returns most of its core in 2018, including juniors Briana Guillory, Mar’yea Harris, DeJuan Frye, sophomore Collin Hofacker, and senior Carter Lilly.
Harris, Hofacker, and Frye return after setting Iowa’s 4×400-meter relay school record and earning Big Ten Indoor silver medals at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
“The 400 group is probably our strongest event because of our depth in that event area.” UI director of track and field Joey Woody said.
The Hawkeyes look to translate last year’s outdoor success into more success indoors and it starts with Harris. Harris looks to rank among the country’s best in the 400-meters after setting Iowa’s school record last year with a time of 45.75 seconds and finishing the season at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the 400-meters and 4×400-meter relay.
“Mar’yea is on a whole new level this year even compared to last year,” Woody said. “He has been focused on the other intangibles outside of training at a high level; his diet, his sleep, and all those things that go into being an elite athlete. He is living the life of an elite athlete.”
Guillory, the 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, returns as the women’s top long sprinter. Guillory ran a leg on three of the Hawkeyes’ top five 4×400-meter relays, including the school record relay set in 2016 (3:32.93). She ranks seventh in Iowa history in the 400-meters (54.24).
“Briana is one of our top returners on the women’s side and someone that can help us and contribute on the 4×400 just like she did last year.” Woody said.
Senior Carter Lilly will return for another crack at the 600-meter school record after notching the second-best time in school history. The Sioux, City, Iowa, native broke former Hawkeye Erik Sowinski’s 800-meter record with a time of 1:47.33, finishing fourth in the Big Ten and 12th in the nation in the event.
ATHLETE POISED FOR A BREAKOUT YEAR
Sophomore Matt Manternach was a part of two big races in his freshman year. He ran the third leg of the school-record-setting distance medley relay at the Indoor Big Ten Championships and helped Iowa capture its first 4×800-meter title at the Drake Relays for the first time since 1929.
“Matt is a guy who went from a guy that had a chance at running 1:50 in the 800-meters to now having a shot at making the national meet,” Woody said. “That is the kind of jump he made this summer. He has been right there with Carter in pretty much every workout.”
FRESHMAN TO WATCH
Freshman Kylie Welch out of Bloomington, Illinois, is a newcomer to watch this season. Her 54.84 400-meters personal best in high school during the outdoor season places her just outside Iowa’s all-time top-10.
“Kylie is a young freshman who ran 54 seconds in high school and has had a great fall,” Woody said. “She is looking to do some good things this year and contribute to the team as a freshman.”