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Inside the Lines: Iowa track starting strong

Let’s talk a little track on this fine Friday

(UI Athletic Department)

Inside the Lines will be my weekly column on how the Iowa track and field team is doing. To all you track fans — yes, I know I’ve been slacking. Time to amend that.

Iowa’s had a nice start to the track and field season. After performing well at the home-opener — the Iowa Invite — the head coach Joey Woody and the rest of his staff cooked up something really special: The 2nd annual Larry Wieczorek Invitational.

It brought 32 former Olympians and professional athletes to Iowa’s gorgeous indoor track and the event was a resounding success.

Iowa senior Brittany Brown and junior Briana Guillory are now first and second in the Big Ten in 200-meters with times of 23.54 (track and meet record) and 23.58, respectively.

Those marks? We’ll they’re fourth and fifth in the country, too. Pretty dang good.

Carter Lilly also had a great performance in the 600 meters, finishing fourth in the premier event (meaning he was going against professional athletes) with a time of 1:17.79, which is just off his personal best. Erik Sowinski, a former Hawkeye, took the race.

“We had some great 600s today,” Woody said to HawkeyeSports. “That’s one of (Carter Lilly’s) best races on a banked track. Briana (Guillory) and Brittany (Brown) – to put together 23.5 races this early in the season is impressive and they did it against great competition. That’s what we are looking for this time of the year. It’s not necessarily about great performances, it’s about how you are going to compete head to head.”

The second day was perhaps even better for Iowa, who ended up taking first place overall in the meet.

Guillory was again incredible, finishing second to Georganne Moline (a 2012 Olympian and former Pac-12 champ) in the 400-meter dash.

She was honored for her performances.

Junior Mar’yea Harris was also excellent, finishing third in the premier 400 meter race and helping the Hawkeyes to a 4x400 win. He’s an excellent, excellent runner and will help make the loss of Aaron Mallett a bit easier to bear.

Pretty awesome. Speaking of Mallett, Chris Douglas set a personal best (7.60) in the 60 meter hurdles, which is good news. Losing an All-American like Mallett is never easy and having Douglas to come in and be strong is a massive boon. Woody is an excellent hurdler coach, so I was never really worried, but, still, this is a good sign.

Laulauga Tausaga also broke the Iowa women’s shot put record, which has stood since 1985 (Gail Smith) with a throw of 15.87 meters. Tausaga is a better discus thrower than she is a shot putter so this... this is good news. Having her be top-level competitive in more than one event will pay dividends for the team this season.

All these performances let to an uptick in the USTFCCCA team rankings: the men come in at No. 22, while the women are No. 27. It’s the highest ranking for the women since 2008, when they reached 18th.

This is all very good. The new indoor track is fast and has brought in some really, really good athletes to Iowa City. The fact that it’s banked is even better, as it’ll help prepare them for the Indoor NCAAs, which is, of course, what the prize here really is.

Next up for the Hawkeyes? The Black and Gold Invite this weekend. Should be another fun one.