Track qualifies 22 events for NCAAs


Iowa's Mar ' yea Harris anchors the men's 4x100 relay during the 2016 Drake Relays in Des Moines on Friday, April 29, 2016. Iowa took 10th place in the preliminaries. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)


Fourteen members of the Iowa track and field team punched their tickets to the national championship meet following their performances at the West Regional Championships in Lawrence, Kansas.

In total, Iowa secured 22 qualifying events, a school record.

On May 27, Jahisha Thomas tied her personal best in the long jump, the final event of that day. The sophomore from London jumped 6.17 meters in her final jump, matching the fourth-best mark in school history, which she set last year at the regional meet.

Earlier that day, Elexis Guster won her heat of the 400 meters. In doing so, she automatically qualified for the NCAA meet in Eugene, Oregon.

“It feels good, but it was stressful at first,” said Guster in a release. “The main goal was to win my heat because that’s the automatic qualifier regardless of time. Running early in the morning and not having anything under my legs the day before was kind of nerve-wracking, but I just prayed, warmed up really well, and prepared mentally. I went out there and gave it my all.”

Mar’yea Harris followed Guster’s success on the men’s side of the 400. The freshman won his heat, sending him to Eugene.

In the 800, sophomore Carter Lilly advanced to the championship meet for the first time in his career, finishing in 1:48.55..

“I’m really excited,” he said in a release. “I knew if I focused on running my race and was in the top two, I’d have a good chance of moving on. Coach [Jason] Wakenight has done a great job preparing me for this.”

On the second day of competition, the men’s 400-meter relay booked its spot in the national championship meet for the fourth-consecutive year. Vinnie Saucer Jr., Christian Brissett, James Harrington, and Aaron Mallett finished in 39.93 seconds.

Harrington and Mallett also advanced in their individual events, Harrington in the 200 meters and Mallett in the 110-meter hurdles.

“I just wanted to win my heat to get the automatic bid to Eugene,” said Mallett, who took the heat win in the region’s seventh-fastest qualifying time, 13.77, in a release. “It’s so unpredictable, and I wasn’t trying to focus so much on time. My goal is to hopefully get back to that final and have a shot at winning the national championship. That’s what I’ve been working toward all year. Despite what I ran at this meet, I’ll get myself back together in two weeks.”

Ending the last day of competition with a bang, the women’s 1,600-meter relay set a school record and advanced with an automatic qualification.

Alexis Hernandez, Briana Guillory, MonTayla Holder, and Guster finished in 3:30.97.

Overall, Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody was pleased with how the team performed.

“Obviously, we would have loved to get the men’s 1,600-meter relay in, but I don’t want that to disrupt the feelings we have about this whole weekend,” he said in a release. “We’re definitely doing some big things, so I’m extremely proud of the entire team and the way they competed with the adverse conditions. They really showed up this weekend. I’m proud of them for that.”

Iowa’s final meet of the season, the NCAA Championships, will begin on June 8.

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