GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Iowa track and field’s 1,600-meter relay squad consisting of freshman Wayne Lawrence Jr., junior Antonio Woodard, junior Collin Hofacker, and senior Mar’yea Harris closed the 2019 Pepsi Florida Relays in 3:03.10 on Saturday to win the premier event.
Lawrence’s leading first lap gave the Hawkeyes’ an early lead. Woodard and Hofacker stayed within the top three, and Harris kept his cool to pull ahead and anchor Iowa’s third fastest 1,600-meter relay all-time.
“We finished the day on a high note,” Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody said. “The 1,600-meter relay was a big win for us. That’s been and event that we’ve wanted to win ever since we started coming to the Florida Relays. We’ve placed second and third, but never won. It’s always great to win the last event on the track. I’m very proud of our guys, who battled after a long and tough weekend.”
Senior thrower Reno Tuufuli had two top-eight finishes in the discus and shot put invitationals. His 56.74-meter (186-2) discus throw earned fourth place, and his 18.21-meter (59-9) shot put earned eighth.
“Reno had a good day in discus and competed well in the shot put,” Woody said. “He had some personal best throws but wasn’t able to stay in the ring and had a couple foot fouls. We know that his big throw is in there. The throws crew is training very hard right now, and their hard work is going to pay off once we get into May and June.”
On the women’s side, junior Erika Hammond placed fifth in the open shot put competition with a 15.17-meter (49-9 1/4) mark.
Another top-eight finish was earned on the field by sophomore high jumper Jay Hunt. Hunt jumped 2.01 meters (6-7) to tie for eighth.
The Hawkeyes’ relay squads had four additional top-eight finishes for Iowa, including fourth-place finishes in the women’s 1,600-meter relay (3:36.32) run by junior Jenny Kimbro, sophomore Aly Weum, senior Tria Simmons, and freshman Payton Wensel, the women’s sprint medley relay (3:52.85) including sophomore Addie Swanson, sophomore Kylie Morken, junior Mallory King, and junior Taylor Arco, and the men’s 440-meter hurdle shuttle (1:01.14) including sophomore Anthony Williams, freshman Peyton Haack, sophomore Josh Braverman, and junior Jaylan McConico.
“I thought the ladies competed extremely well in the 1,600-meter relay today,” Woody said. “We had some lifetime best splits, and that team ran a very fast time considering Briana Guillory wasn’t here. I was proud of all the women who competed tough after a long weekend and multiple events. We have some work to do in the short sprints, but I think we have the personnel to run NCAA qualifying times by the end of the season in both men’s and women’s relays.
“This was a great meet to give our athletes a chance to compete in a lot of events,” Woody said. “This will help us build towards the end of the season.”
The Hawkeyes head back to Arizona State in Tempe, Arizona for the second time on April 5-6 for the Sun Angel Invitational.