Iowa sent 15 athletes, including two relay teams, to Eugene, Oregon, last week for the NCAA Championships. A couple of Hawkeyes had a chance to win Iowa an NCAA title, too. It didn't happen, but four athletes and one relay team still became First Team All-Americans.
Florida took home the team championship on the men's side, beating Texas A&M by two points. Iowa finished tied with Akron for 17th with 15 points. It is Iowa's best finish since taking seventh in 1967. On the women's side, Oregon completed the first ever triple crown -- cross country, indoor and outdoor track championships. The Hawkeyes tied for 48th with four points.
First Team All-Americans
All eyes were on Aaron Mallett in the 110-meter hurdles. Many felt that Iowa's best chance at an NCAA champion was Mallett, who entered with the best regional time. Mallett finished second in his heat and fourth overall in the semifinal, running it in 13.44 seconds, to advance to his second final in three years. His semifinal time would have won him an NCAA title, but after a good start, Mallett struggled with the middle hurdles and took fourth. Mallett ran it in 13.65 seconds, with Florida freshman Grant Holloway winning in 13.49 seconds. It's not the way anyone wanted Mallett's career to end, but I doubt this will be the last time we see his name.
Iowa's 4x400 team of Emmanuel Ogwo, Dejuan Frye, Mar'yea Harris and Collin Hofacker had to qualify on time after finishing third in its heat. Iowa's semifinal time of 3:03.74 was only good enough for seventh overall. However, the Hawkeyes improved by almost two seconds in the final for a school record time of 3:01.91 to take third. Iowa finished just .07 seconds behind Arkansas for second, too. The good news is all four members of Iowa's 4x400 team are underclassmen, so they will have a couple of more chances to compete for a national title.
Everyone was fixated on Deajah Stevens and Ariana Washington of Oregon, but Brittany Brown surprised everyone by finishing with the second best semifinal time of 22.55 seconds. In the final, Brown got off to a slow start and finished seventh, running it in 23.02 seconds. Brown's slow start wasn't her only disadvantage. Stevens, who was running in the lane next to Brown, tripped and fell into her lane. Brown had to slow down and hurdle over her, which led to her finishing in last -- Stevens didn't finish. Brown wouldn't have won if Stevens didn't trip, but she wouldn't have finished last. It looked like Brown was starting to make up ground and had a shot at fifth. Brown is only a junior so she will hopefully get another chance next year.
Iowa's throws coach, Andrew Dubs, deserves a lot of credit. He helped send three Iowa throwers to the NCAA Championships for just the third time ever and two became All-Americans in discus. On the men's side, Reno Tuufuli threw 59.81 meters for fifth overall. To make it even better, Penn State's David Lucas was the only other underclassmen to finish in the top-10 and the top-three finishers were all seniors. Assuming Tuufuli, a redshirt freshman, continues to improve, he has a chance to end Iowa's national title drought.
Despite fouling on her third semifinal throw, Laulauga Tausaga took seventh with a throw of 55.71 meters. She was the only freshman to finish in the top-10 as well. Only two of the top-six finishers are seniors, but there's no doubt Tausaga's best days are ahead of her. Finishing seventh in the nation as a freshman is no small feat.
Second Team All-Americans
Along with being a part of an All-American 4x400 relay team, Mar'yea Harris became a Second Team All-American in 400-meters. He took fourth in his heat and 10th overall, finishing in 45.54 seconds. Alabama's Steven Gayle took the last final spot with a time of 45.45 seconds. Harris, who is only a sophomore, showed improvement from last year when he took 18th.
Iowa could not have asked for more from its 4x100 relay team, despite missing the final by .23 seconds. Christian Brissett, O'Shea Wilson, Brendan Thompson and Aaron Mallett set a school record of 39.12 seconds in easily the fastest heat. Despite finishing 12th overall, it was only good enough for sixth in the heat. Mallett and Thompson are seniors, but Brissett and Wilson are underclassmen.
Looking back to earlier this week, we'd like to congratulate our 2nd team All-Americans Jahisha Thomas, Mar'yea Harris, and the 4x100! pic.twitter.com/rp3QIx0UnO— Iowa XC T&F (@IowaXC_TF) June 10, 2017
Jahisha Thomas didn't have her best jump of the year, but it was good enough for Second Team All-American honors. Thomas finished in 16th by jumping 6.04 meters in the long jump. Her regional jump of 6.35 meters would have cracked the top-10, but Thomas is only a junior so she'll have another chance next season.
William Dougherty entered with the worst regional score in the Decathlon at the NCAA Championships. Led by a top-10 finish in shot put, Dougherty finished in 17th with 7,199 points. Dougherty's best finishes came in shot put (8th), 400-meters (11th) and 1,500-meters (11th). This is the second straight year Dougherty made the NCAA Championships, but he had to drop out last year because of an injury.
Senior transfer Antwon James ended his collegiate career by jumping 15.38 meters in triple jump to finish 20th. Also jumping on the men's side in long jump was O'Shea Wilson, who competed in the 4x100 relay. Wilson's jump of 7.20 meters was good enough for 21st overall. Neither had their best jump of the season.
Iowa's discus success does not stop at Tuufuli and Tausaga. Senior Avery Meyers ended his Iowa career with an NCAA Championships appearance, too. He finished in 22nd with a throw of 51.51 meters.