Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JACK ROSSI
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — If this is how broke looks, then University of Iowa junior Briana Guillory will be a dangerous foe at the NCAA Championships.
Guillory qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 400 meter dash for the first time in her career at the NCAA West Preliminary on Friday. She notched a new lifetime best despite admitting after the race she had not been 100 percent all outdoor season.
“I’m hurt,” Guillory said. “I have been dealing with a hamstring issue since the indoor season. It’s been making my back tweak. I’m a little broke, but I will keep going.”
And Guillory has been going.
She finished fifth in the 400 meters and helped Iowa to a third-place finish in the 1,600-meter relay at the Big Ten Championships on May 13, where her injury hobbled her the most.
“(Big Tens) was probably when it hurt the worst,” she said. “I did the 4×4 for my team and that is what hurt.”
Guillory enjoyed a needed break with a weekend off between the Big Ten Championships and NCAA West Preliminary. A second straight personal best in the 400 meters is proof that her physical disadvantage is not enough to keep her from the top.
“It shows how talented she is to be able to not get a lot of quality training in for a few weeks and she did everything she was asked to do during that time,” Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody said. “She has a lot of belief in herself and a lot of confidence.”
Guillory blew out the competition in her heat in the NCAA first round on Thursday, jogging through the finish with room to spare. Her 51.85 and fourth-place finish in the quarterfinals moved her into second in school history in the 400 meters.
Guillory’s fourth-place guaranteed a spot for her at NCAAs and is a product of her mental toughness throughout the season, letting her mind control her body and not the other way around.
“I can’t focus on it,” Guillory explained. “If I give it more attention than it needs, then I am thinking about that and not what I need to be doing.”
Injury or not, Guillory has narrowed her focus on one goal at Eugene.
“(I want to) make it to finals,” she said. “A lot of great people get bumped out because of tweaks or not having the right mindset that day. I just try to eliminate all the noise.”
“She has a lot more in the tank now that she is feeling pretty good,” Woody said. “I think now that she has a few races under her belt, she will go into Eugene with some fire in her belly.”
Guillory competes at the NCAA Track and Field Championships on June 6-9 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.