Grading the Hawkeye tracksters

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Grading the Hawkeye tracksters

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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During the indoor track and field season, the men’s program earned various grades. Now, with the outdoor regular season reaching its conclusion, it’s time to grade the team again.

 

Hurdles — A (previous grade: A-plus)

During the indoor season, Aaron Mallett dominated en route to breaking the school record in the 60-meter hurdles. His foot has not left the gas pedal. Chris Douglas quietly improves with each meet but has not made as much noise as he did in the indoor season.

The main reason the hurdles group stayed in the A-range is the emergence of the 400-hurdlers. Mitch Wolff and Noah Larrison burst onto the scene early on in the outdoor season, and Larrison recently claimed second in the event at the Drake Relays.

There is not a better group of hurdlers in the Big Ten than Iowa’s.

 

Sprints — B-plus (previous grade: B):

Senior James Harrington’s effect on this group is pretty notable, considering he did not compete in the indoor season. He’s won numerous races this year, but he has nursed a minor injury that kept him out of the Drake Relays last weekend.

Christian Brissett earned Big Ten Track Athlete of the Week in Iowa’s first meet of the season, the Baldy Castillo Invitational. Since then, he’s been a threat in both the 100 and 200.

Vinnie Saucer Jr. followed up his victory in the 60-meter dash in the indoor conference championships by stepping up at Drake. He finished the preliminaries with the second-fastest time in the 100, then placed third in the finals. He and Brissett were also on the sprint medley team that gave the Hawkeyes their only flag at the relays.

Freshmen Mar’yea Harris and DeJuan Frye command the 400 meters and keep the Hawkeyes relevant.

Overall, this group has improved but could be great; the key is for everyone to be healthy at the same time.

 

Middle Distance — A-minus (previous grade: A):

This group was one of the best in the conference in the indoor season. Why has its grade fallen?

Will Teubel was one of Iowa’s two athletes to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships (Saucer was the other), but he is redshirting for the outdoor season.

In his absence, Carter Lilly has stepped up and not looked back. The sophomore propelled himself to the second-best 800-meter time in school history and also anchored Iowa’s first-place sprint medley team at Drake.

Aside from Lilly, the middle-distance group has settled down following the indoor season, but that could change.

 

Long Distance — C-plus (previous grade: B-minus):

Just as in the indoor season, Michael Melchert has been the leader. The runners have not been major factors for the Hawkeyes, but just like the middle-distance group, they could be in contention for success come championship season. Layne Anderson’s distance crew has been inconsistent at times but has also flashed fast times. It’s just a matter of running together.

 

Relays — A (previous grade: A):

When it comes down to it, Iowa’s relays have been its best group this season, and the scoring shows it. The 4×100, 4×200, and 4×400 relays have broken records and (when all runners are healthy) showed that they can contend for a conference title.

Iowa possesses one of the fastest group of athletes it has had in a while. Aside from watching Mallett compete in the hurdles, all eyes should be on the relays.

 

Field Events — B (previous grade: C-plus):

One athlete is responsible for Iowa’s improvement in this area: Reno Tuufuli. The redshirt freshman proved he is Iowa’s top thrower and one of the best discus throwers in the country. He exploded onto the scene at the Florida Relays, where he tossed his name into the national rankings.

Other than Tuufuli, Avery Meyers has been consistent in the throws but not at the level of his teammate.

The long jump, high jump, and pole vault have been non-factors to this point.

 

Overall team grade — A-minus:

Iowa entered the rankings last week, coming in at No. 22, then fell out following a subpar performance at Drake. However, the Hawkeyes improved in many areas since the middle of the indoor season. Hawkeyes can make their mark in the championship season, starting May 13 with the Big Ten championship.

 

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