Mallett, Saucer achieve redemption

Iowa+runner+Aaron+Mallett+pushes+to+the+finish+line+in+the+men%27s+110+meter+hurdles+at+the+Iowa+Musco+Invitational+in+Iowa+City+on+Saturday%2C+May+3.+Mallett+placed+first+in+the+event.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FRachael+Westergard%29
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Mallett, Saucer achieve redemption

Iowa runner Aaron Mallett pushes to the finish line in the men's 110 meter hurdles at the Iowa Musco Invitational in Iowa City on Saturday, May 3. Mallett placed first in the event. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Iowa runner Aaron Mallett pushes to the finish line in the men's 110 meter hurdles at the Iowa Musco Invitational in Iowa City on Saturday, May 3. Mallett placed first in the event. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Iowa runner Aaron Mallett pushes to the finish line in the men's 110 meter hurdles at the Iowa Musco Invitational in Iowa City on Saturday, May 3. Mallett placed first in the event. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

Iowa runner Aaron Mallett pushes to the finish line in the men's 110 meter hurdles at the Iowa Musco Invitational in Iowa City on Saturday, May 3. Mallett placed first in the event. (The Daily Iowan/Rachael Westergard)

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The Iowa men’s track and field team boasted two winners this past weekend at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, and both enjoyed the sweet taste of redemption.

Aaron Mallett and Vinnie Saucer Jr. posted wins in the 60-meter hurdles and the 60-meter dash.

“To be able to come away from any conference meet and have some Big Ten champions is always huge, with Vinnie in the 60 and Aaron to be able to defend his outdoor title,” said Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody.

Mallett edged Nebraska’s Oladapo Akinmoladun for the title, running a school-record time of 7.69, and Saucer toppled Antoine Lloyd (also from Nebraska) in 6.70 seconds.

However, neither Mallett nor Saucer has always been on top.

In the 2015 indoor conference championships, Mallett came up short, losing to Akinmoladun by 0.06 seconds.

“Turning the tables around this year was phenomenal,” Mallett said. “I’ve worked so hard on being more explosive and active to just make myself better than I was last year. So, for it to manifest itself in winning the Big Ten title was just amazing.”

Mallett’s time at the conference championship ranks fourth nationally.

Also in 2015, Saucer finished second in the 100 meters in the Big Ten Outdoor Championships. He lost by 0.04 seconds to former Illinois sprinter Brandon Stryganek.

Saucer feels redemption in full force.

“Yes, without a doubt,” he said. “After becoming Big Ten runner-up last outdoor season, all I could think about after the race was, ‘What if I did this [or] what if I did that?’ in order to become the champion. So with this 60-meter race, I made sure that I wouldn’t regret my race and made sure I came out as a champion.”

Saucer’s time is tied for 46th in the country but ranks third in the Big Ten conference.

This season, Saucer only competed in a handful of meets prior to the Big Ten meet.

Woody said a nagging hamstring issue was the culprit. His coaches did not want him to aggravate it further, they wanted him to be fresh come championship season.

“We just kind of held him out earlier. We decided to be smart with him,” Woody said. “But every week, he got better and better, and his rhythm really started to come together at the right time. He’s a guy that really started to put some things together at the end of the indoor season.”

Being held out of some meets, Saucer kept his head high, putting faith his coaches.

“It’s tough because as someone as highly competitive as I am, you never want to miss an opportunity to compete and get better,”Saucer said. “So I just kept thinking to myself to trust that this is the best option for me to rest my hamstring and come back healthier and better than before.”

Once Saucer’s indoor season came to an end this past weekend, his focus turned to the outdoor season.

His main goal is to stay healthy all season but also be one of the top athletes in the 200 meters.

“I think that most athletes in the conference count me out for that race,” he said.

Mallett’s time qualified him for the NCAA championships in Birmingham, Alabama, on March 11.

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