Iowa Track & Field Wins Two Medals at Junior Pan Am Games

By Jeremy Karll on July 25, 2017 at 3:10 pm
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We are still in the midst of summer, counting down the days until Iowa football returns. Iowa baseball will provide some action in August, but Iowa track & field stole the show in July. A couple of current Hawkeyes competed in the Junior Pan American Games in Trujillo, Peru, this month, while former Hawkeyes ran in a couple of worldwide events.

At the Junior Pan American Games, freshman Laulauga Tausaga continued her dominant freshman campaign by taking gold in discus. Tausaga obliterated the competition, throwing a meet record of 59.29 meters. Her throw is almost six meters longer than second place finisher Alma Pallorena and 1.41 meters longer than the former meet record. Seilala Sua, who threw 57.88 meters in 1997, went on to become a seven-time NCAA All-American and two-time Olympian. When looking at Tausaga’s completed freshman resume, it’s easy to see that kind of potential in her.

Nathan Mylenek also competed at the Junior Pan American Games. He took silver in the 3000-meter steeplechase, finishing in 9:00.70. Canada’s Jean Desgagnes easily beat Mylenek, finishing in 8:56.57, but Mylenek beat third place by 2.52 seconds. It’s a great finish for the freshman, who will now start to prepare for the cross country season. Iowa recently released its 2017 cross country schedule.

At the start of the month, junior Jahisha Thomas took part in the United Kingdom World Team Trials. She competed in the triple jump and long jump, an event she is a two-time All-American in. Thomas jumped 13.25 meters in triple jump, a personal best, to finish third overall. In long jump, Thomas took fourth with her best jump of 6.28 meters coming on her first attempt. Third place finisher Holly Mills took over third place after jumping 6.31 meters on her final attempt. This is obviously great experience for Thomas, who has a chance to have a huge senior season in 2018.

Aaron Mallett started his professional career in July, too. The TrackTown USA series also featured former Hawkeye Erik Sowinski in 800-meters. The series is split into three parts: San Francisco, Portland and New York. In San Francisco, Mallett won his first professional race by running a personal best of 13.37 seconds to advance to the final in New York. 

Sowinski had to qualify for New York by running well in Portland, though. He did just that by taking third. In one of the closest races you’ll ever see. Sowinski’s time of 1:46.63 barely lost the race. Drew Windle’s 1:46.21 won the race and Andres Arroyo took second with a time of 1:46.44. In fact, the entire nine-man field was separated by just 1.72 seconds.

Mallett had a legitimate chance of winning a second straight meet if he ran another 13.37. Unfortunately, he failed to do so. Mallett finished fifth and behind three runners he beat in San Francisco when he crossed the line in 13.50 seconds. His time of 13.37 seconds would have been good enough for second place and just .01 seconds behind Olympian Devon Allen. Sowinski fared better in New York. Windle barely won again, as Sowinski finished second by .03 seconds. Sowinski crossed the line in 1:44.66, which was the 10th best time in the world.

After the TrackTown USA series, Mallett and Sowinski ran the London leg of the Diamond League. Mallett took fifth in his heat and became the last 110-meter hurdle qualifier with a time of 13.49 seconds. Although, he stepped it up a notch in the final. Mallett crossed the line in 13.47 seconds to take sixth, earning the USA three points. Again breaking into the 1:44 threshold (1:44.82), Sowinski comfortably earned the USA five points with his fourth place finish.

Mallett and Sowinski quickly turned their attention to a meet in Switzerland. Mallett, finishing in 13.55 seconds, ended up taking fourth overall. However, Sowinski cruised to a fifth place finish (1:46.12) to qualify for Monaco. His recent success ended there, though, as Sowinski finished just seventh in Monaco. He improved on his time by one second (1:45.12) but not breaking into the 1:44 range really hurt him. 

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