2017 Track & Field NCAA Championships: An Iowa Preview

By Jeremy Karll on June 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm
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@TheIowaHawkeyes

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After competing in an NCAA regional last week, Iowa track & field sends multiple athletes and a couple of relay teams to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. It will take place from June 7-10 and be aired on various ESPN channels. You can find a schedule of the events right here. Also, the seeding for the men and women heading into the Championships. You can keep up to date with the Iowa results by following @IowaXC_TF.

Running Events

Aaron Mallett – 110-meter hurdles

The only thing missing from Aaron Mallett’s illustrious Iowa career is a national championship. Mallett has won the Big Ten Championships in three straight years, placed fifth in this event in 2015 and 14th in 2016. He has broken the school record more than once. And as Land of 10’s Scott Dochterman points out, Mallett is the favorite to win after running it in 13.36 seconds at Iowa's regional last week. Mallett’s time of 13.36 seconds is the fastest time in the nation in 2017. Alabama’s Ruebin Walters is the only other hurdler with a time under 13.40 seconds (13.39 seconds) and only four hurdlers ran it in under 13.50 seconds. Of course, anything can happen on a given day. But considering Mallett has been to multiple NCAA Championships in his career, there’s a good chance Iowa will have its first male NCAA Champion since Bashir Yamini in 1998 and its first male running champion since Deacon Jones in 1957 this weekend.

Mar’yea Harris – 400 meters

Harris will compete in 400-meters at the NCAA Championships for a second straight year. In 2016, Harris placed 18th with a time of 46.32 seconds but is down to 45.45 seconds after the NCAA regional last week. It’s unlikely for Harris to make the final, as he is 13th in the nation and the eighth best time in the nation is 0.38 seconds faster. It's definitely not impossible, though, considering Harris finished ninth at the Indoor Championships in this event.

William Dougherty – Decathlon

William Dougherty barely made the cut. He’s positioned to finish last after he scored 7,471 points in the NCAA regional. That said, eight other athletes are within 100 points of his score and he finished eighth at the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. Even if Dougherty isn’t expected to finish on the podium, he’s in his second straight NCAA Championships after being unable to finish due to injury last year.

Brittany Brown – 200 meters

Brittany Brown is the only female Iowa runner at the NCAA Championships, but she has a chance to bring home a national championship. Brown, a junior competing in her third NCAA Championships, placed fifth during the Indoor Championships, owns the school record in this event, and has the third best time in the nation. Brown ran it in 22.33 seconds at the NCAA regional, which is 0.03 seconds behind second place junior Deanna Hill and 0.17 seconds behind the nation’s leader in junior Deajah Stevens. In 2016, Brown finished in 23.19 seconds to finish 17th but came in 11th with a time of 23.35 seconds in 2015.

Christian Brissett, O’Shea Wilson, Brendan Thompson, Mallett – 4x100 Relay

Mallett will be an All-American for a third time in 2017 – 110m and 60m hurdles. Just like in any sport, peaking at the right time is important. At its NCAA regional, Iowa’s 4x100 team finished with the second best time in school history at 39.22 seconds. This is the fifth straight year Iowa has sent its 4x100 relay team to the NCAA Championships, which gives it valuable experience. Wilson was part of the school record time in 2014, Brissett ran it last year when Iowa placed 16th and Mallett will compete in it for a third straight year. That experience might help Iowa battle nerves, but it’s a long shot to make the finals considering the Hawkeyes enter with just the 15th best time.

Emmanuel Ogwo, Dejuan Frye, Mar’yea Harris, Collin Hofacker – 4x400 Relay

At the NCAA regional, Iowa’s 4x400 team set a school record of 3:02.47 seconds. As a result, Iowa is second in the nation in 2017 but still 1.88 seconds behind Texas A&M. Nonetheless, Iowa is just one of three schools to break the 3:03.00 mark this year and they have a 400-meter All-American in Mar’yea Harris, as well. They placed fifth at the Indoor Championships (3:05.60), too. It is a big accomplishment for this relay team to be ranked second considering Iowa didn’t send a 4x400 relay team to the NCAA Championships last year. In fact, Harris is the only runner in this group to compete at an outdoor NCAA Championships in any event.

Field Events

Reno Tuufuli, Avery Meyers, LauLauga Tausaga – Discus

Reno Tuufuli is the favorite to win an NCAA title after throwing 62.06 meters last week and finally taking down the current NCAA champion, Nicholas Percy of Nebraska. Tuufuli, who barely missed the cut for shotput, will be able to focus on solely discus for the first time this year. He is the only discus thrower to eclipse the 62-meter mark this year and only four other throwers are within a meter of his regional throw.

Avery Meyers doesn’t have the same gaudy numbers as Tuufuli, but he still has a chance to be a top-15 finisher. Meyers comes in at 16th after throwing 56.61 meters. The senior obviously wants to end his Iowa career on a high note, especially since it’s his first NCAA Championships appearance. He will need a great day, though, since the top-13 discus throwers have all eclipsed 57 meters.

LauLauga Tausaga continues to rewrite Iowa’s discus school record, and she is only a freshman. At the NCAA regional, Tausaga extended her school record by throwing 59.37 meters. She is just 0.01 meter behind Kayla Hopkins for second and 1.21 meters behind Shadae Lawrence, who leads the nation. Tausaga has a chance to finish second in the nation and possibly even bring home a national title. Even if she falls short a national title, there’s a good chance she’ll eventually win one since Serena Brown (14th) is the only other freshman top-15 in the nation in discus.

O’Shea Wilson and Jahisha Thomas – Long Jump

This is Wilson’s first NCAA Championships long jump appearance. He has a chance to finish higher than his 12th position suggests. Wilson jumped 7.75 meters at the regional, which is a three-way tie for 11th best. Plus, Adrian Riley, the eighth best jumper, is just 0.03 meters ahead of Wilson. There is a good chance he finishes higher than his 15th place finish at the Indoor Championships this year.

Thomas will try to finally crack into the top-10. Last year, Thomas placed 15th at the Outdoor Championships and finished 13th this year at the Indoor Championships. Thomas’ regional jump of 6.35 meters, which is good enough for second in school history, is 17th in the nation. In 10th is Nebraska’s Tierra Williams (6.45 meters).

Antwon James – Triple Jump

The Loyola University transfer has never made an NCAA Championships appearance until 2017. Now a senior, James is tied with Penn State’s Bryce Williams for 13th at 15.90 meters. He will need to jump at least 16 meters to have a chance at cracking the top-10 this year, though, which is possible. At the Big Ten Outdoor Championships, James finished fourth with a jump of 15.96 meters. That would be good enough for 12th.

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