It’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship time for the Hawks.
Sending 13 athletes in 16 events, there’s a chance for Iowa to make a bit of noise this weekend. A year ago at the Outdoor meet, the Hawkeyes finished 17th on the men’s side with 15 points as the women tied for 48th with four. Expect the women to pick up quite a few more points this season.
Iowa has come a long ways as a team over the past five years. The Hawkeyes have, overall, one of the best throwing groups in the country between the men and women. There are sprinters and hurdlers that will compete and just might place.
Long and triple jumper Jahisha Thomas has a real shot at winning national title. That’s exciting.
Since director of track and field Joey Woody took over the men’s and women’s programs, Iowa’s had 56 total All-Americans. In just three years, the Hawkeyes have reestablished themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten.
It’s a really cool thing to see for a sport that has been at Iowa for 118 years. That said, the Hawkeyes have had just 13 total NCAA Champions during that period. There hasn’t been a Black and Gold uniform at the top of the podium since Kineke Alexander won the 400 in 2006.
It’s been a full 20 years since the Hawks have had a men’s winner, with the last being Bashir Yamini in 1998.
Yes, there has been progress. But there’s another level Iowa needs to reach. The coaching staff knows it, the athletes know it and the fans know it.
“We can’t just be happy about being here,” Woody said to HawkeyeSports. “It’s about making finals, scoring points, and being able to compete on the final day. I’m excited about where we’re at, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
That’s exactly the kind of thinking I want my head coach to have. Woody is good at this job and has everything trending in the right direction. Iowa just needs to keep up the momentum.
These NCAA Championships should do just that. Let’s take a look at what Iowa’s bringing to the table.
Events: 100 & 200 meters
Season bests: 11.28 (100), T-41st NCAA; 22.76 (200), 17th NCAA
NCAA seeds: No. 23 (100), 11.31; No. 16 (200), 22.93
Notes: Brown is a four-time Big Ten Champion in the 200 and was a first-team All-American in the event last year, finishing seventh. Her season bests in the 100 & 200 were both hit on April 7 at LSU’s Battle of the Bayou. She has six total All-American honors over her storied career.
Event: 400 meters
Season best: 51.85, 16th NCAA
NCAA seed: No. 12, 51.85
Notes: Guillory is running the best she has all season at the best possible time. Her 400 time of 51.85 at the NCAA Western Regional meet is tied for the second-best mark in Iowa history and is a personal best. She’s not running in one this year, but Guillory has been part of 17 relays that rank top-10 in Hawkeye history.
Events: 400 meters, 4x100, 4x400
Season best: 44.98, 10th NCAA
NCAA seed: No. 14, 45.66
Notes: Like Guillory, Harris is running well late in the year. He hit 44.98 at the Big Ten Championships to not only take first place, but broke a 25-year old school record as well. A six-time All-American, he was the second leg of last year’s third-place NCAA finish in the 1600-meter relay.
Events: Discus, shot put
Season bests: 196-5 (discus), 7th NCAA; 55-1.5 (shot), 22nd NCAA
NCAA seeds: No. 4 (discus), 191-0; No. 14 (shot), 54-1.75
Notes: Already holding the school records in the shot put and discus, Tausaga has a great chance to add to her seventh-place finish at the NCAA meet last season. She won both the shot and discus titles at the Big Ten Championships this year. This is her first time qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the shot put. Tausaga also won the USATF U20 national title and the Pan American Games title in the discus last season.
Events: Discus, shot put
Season bests: 199-8 (discus), 8th NCAA; 62-10.75 (shot), 22nd NCAA
NCAA seeds: No. 2 (discus), 196-10; No. 16 (shot), 62-10.75
Notes: Tuufuli threw his season-best 199-8 at the Big Ten Championships to finish second and then went on to PR in the shot at the Western Prelims. He’s second in discus throw all-time behind Gabe Hull’s monster 207-1 toss in 2014. He also ranks second in Iowa history in the shot put. Tuufuli finished fifth at the NCAA Championships last year with a 196-2, which is his only All-American honor.
Participants: Antonio Woodard (SO), O’Shea Wilson (SR), Collin Hofacker (SO), Mar’yea Harris (JR)
Season best: 39.51, 34th NCAA
NCAA seed: No. 23, 40.04
Notes: Barely squeezing into the field, Iowa will make an NCAA appearance in the 400 relay for the sixth-straight season. That’s a truly impressive run. Iowa finished 12th in the event last year for second-team All-American honors. Wilson will be making this third and final appearance at the NCAA Championships. He’s a three-time All-American. It’ll be Woodard’s first and Hofacker’s second appearance in Eugene.
Participants: DeJuan Frye (JR), Antonio Woodard (SO), Collin Hofacker (SO), Mar’yea Harris (JR)
Season best: 3:03.69, 11th NCAA
NCAA seed: No. 4, 3:03.69
Notes: Finishing third in this event last season, Iowa lost Emmanuel Ogwo to TCU via transfer. That hurts (the Horned Frogs qualified 5th in the 4x4) and would have been a huge help to the Black and Gold this year. That said, the group the Hawkeyes have here is still very, very solid. They ran their best time of the season at the Western Prelims and seem poised to make some noise this weekend.
Events: long jump, triple jump
Season bests: 21-6 (LJ), 9th NCAA; 44-2 (TJ), 10th NCAA
NCAA seeds: No. 4 (LJ), 21-0; No. 4 (TJ), 44-2
Notes: A four-time All-American, Thomas finished fifth in the long jump at the Indoor NCAA Championships earlier this season. The first athlete in school history to advance to the NCAAs in both the triple and long jumps, it’s hardly outside the realm of possibility that she might be able win one of the events. If wins the triple, she’ll be the first athlete — male or female — to take that event at the NCAA meet. She’d be the third person and first woman to win an NCAA championship in the long jump. Thomas won the long jump at the West Prelims and finished runner-up in the triple.
Season best: 7673, 13th NCAA
NCAA seed: No. 13, 7673
Notes: Dougherty broke his own school record this season at the Bryan Clay Invitational on April 19. He finished 10th at the Big Ten Championships in the Dec with just 5434 points.
Events: 110 & 400 hurdles
Season bests: 13.88 (110), 38th NCAA; 50.44 (400), 17th NCAA
NCAA seeds: No. 19 (110), 13.88; No. 21 (400), 50.70
Notes: Making his first-ever appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Thomas will start near the back of the pack. His season bests this year in the 110 and 400 rank sixth and fourth, respectively, in school history. This will be the first time in three seasons that now-professional hurdler Aaron Mallett won’t be at competing at the NCAAs.
Event: 800 meters
Season best: 1:48.63, 39th NCAA
NCAA seed: No. 22, 1:48.63
Notes: Ranked 97th in the country in the 800-meter run coming into the West Prelims, Manthernach finished seventh to automatically qualify for the NCAA Finals. That’s one helluva story. Whether or not he does anything more this season, the future seems to be bright for him.
And there you have it. This weekend is shaping up to be a good one for the Hawkeyes and I’d definitely urge you to follow along. I’m more than excited.
Speaking of which, here’s how to view and keep up with the meet this weekend:
Watch: ESPN — June 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (CT) and June 9 at 5:30 p.m. ESPN2 — June 6 at 6:30 p.m. and June 7 at 6 p.m. ESPN3 — multi-events and field events, beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 11:50 p.m. on Thursday, 2:20 p.m. on Friday, and 4:50 p.m. on Saturday.
So, basically, ESPN is your friend this weekend. WatchESPN will have streams of all four days, though I doubt every heat and every throw will get coverage. NCAA Track on ESPN is one of my favorite parts of the year and the finals on ESPN... well those are just good TV.
Live stats: The extremely useful and official NCAA live stats link is right here.