Aaron Mallett, Brittany Brown, Laulauga Tausaga Compete at USATF Championships

By Jeremy Karll on June 27, 2017 at 6:00 pm



The NCAA track & field season ended a couple of weeks ago, but some of Iowa’s top athletes continued to compete last weekend at the USA Track & Field Championships. Iowa had five former and current athletes compete in the senior division with six more in the junior division, including an incoming freshman. The top-three finishers in the senior division advanced to the IAAF World Championships in London, UK, in early August. Only the top-two finishers in the junior division advanced to the Pan American Junior Championships in Trujillo, Peru, from July 21-23.

Senior Division

Earning a spot on the United States’ World Championship team is important, but Aaron Mallett was also running the 110-meter hurdles to try to earn a sponsor. In the quarterfinals, Mallett finished ninth overall (13.71 seconds) to earn a spot in the semifinal. This time finishing in 13.62 seconds, Mallett took the eighth and final spot in the 110-meter hurdle final. The only other collegian in the final was NCAA Champion Grant Holloway, who finished fourth. Needing to make up for the slowest reaction time in the final at .187 seconds, Mallett crossed the finish line in sixth with a time of 13.58 seconds. Mallett didn’t qualify for the World Championships, but he stood out and should earn a sponsor.

Former Hawkeye Erik Sowinski in 800-meters gave Iowa its best chance of being represented at the World Championships. Sowinski looked good through the quarterfinal and semifinal, finishing with the best time in each round. He also led at the halfway point in the final, including by 1.06 seconds over Drew Windle. However, Sowinski only ran the last 400-meters in 54.08 seconds, the third slowest last lap in the final, and fell to fourth place, crossing the line in 1:45.39. Windle, who was over a second behind Sowinski after the first lap, edged him by .44 seconds after a 52.59 second last lap.

It’s a disappointing ending for Sowinski, but he and Mallett will compete in the TrackTown Summer Series between June 29-July 6. Mallett will compete in 110-meter hurdles in San Francisco on June 29 and Sowinski will run 800-meters in Portland on July 2 after winning this event last year.

Following a First Team All-American finish in disucs at the NCAA Championships, Reno Tuufuli failed to make the final last weekend. His throw of 55.38 meters (181 feet, 8 inches) was good enough for 13th. Mar’yea Harris failed to advance to the 400-meter semifinal, too, after finishing in 45.73 seconds. Harris finished 19th, as 16th place finished in 45.52 seconds.

Brittany Brown had an eventful finals appearance at the NCAA Championships when she had to hurdle over Deajah Stevens. With no one falling into her lane during the 200-meter quarterfinals, Brown placed eighth overall with a time of 22.92 seconds. She even beat 2012 200-meter gold medalist Allyson Felix by .03 seconds. In the semifinals, though, Brown’s .273 second reaction time was the second slowest. It resulted in her finishing 15th with a time of 23.40 seconds. Her 22.92 seconds would have easily been enough to make the final and finish sixth in the final.

Junior Division

Iowa had two athletes compete in 5000-meters. Luke Sampson took 10th (15:09.38) and Karson Sommer crossed the line in 12th (15:19.75). In shot put, Erika Hammond took 20th after throwing 12.97 meters (42 feet, 6 inches).

Freshman Nathan Mylenek finished second in 3000-meter steeplechase, crossing the line in 9:15.42, to advance to the Pan American Junior Championships. He was only in sixth place after the second lap before running four of his final five laps in 1:15.57 or less. Unfortunately, North Carolina State’s Timothy Bason ran the fastest final lap (1:04.65) to beat Mylenek by .02 seconds, despite Mylenek running the second fastest final lap (1:06.09).

Laulauga Tausaga has had an amazing freshman year so far, and it got even better. Tausaga won the Junior discus championship on her first throw of 54.04 meters (177 feet, 3 inches). She faulted on her next three throws and threw 49.23 meters and 53.36 meters, which would have also been far enough to win, in her final two throws of the final. Still, no one could match her first throw. Here’s a list of her accomplishments as a freshman:

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