McConico finds comfort zone in Black and Gold

After two years at Illinois State, Jaylan McConico has made strides in his time with the Hawkeyes.

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McConico finds comfort zone in Black and Gold

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Nick Rohlman

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Nick Rohlman

Nick Rohlman

Iowa's Mar'yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4x400 meter relay during the Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2017. Harris anchored the Hawkeyes relay team to a victory with a 45.599 split.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

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The starter’s gun sounds and only 60 meters stand in between the starting point and the finish line. Well, that and five hurdles.

The race in question, a preliminary heat at the Hawkeye Invitational, saw Iowa junior Jaylan McConico finish with a personal best 7.73.

McConico, who, unless he is competing on the track, can always be found wearing his white visor and black square-frame glasses, has run impressive times all season, his first as a Hawkeye.

A native of Bolingbrook, Illinois, he spent his first two years at the college level competing at Illinois State before looking for a change of scenery.

“My sprint coach at Illinois State had left, and that’s when I decided to leave,” McConico said. “He was a really big factor in my decision to go to that school.”

As he looked to transfer, he saw many positives in taking his talents to Iowa, including a great sense of familiarity.

“I knew Coach Woody had a history with hurdles with Aaron [Mallett] and Chris [Douglas],” McConico said. “I actually raced against Chris in high school, so I was already a little bit familiar with the people in this program. I knew they would be able to help me really progress to the next level.” 

RELATED: Harris wins two races, breaks school record at Meyo Invitational 

McConico, who was a two-time national qualifier at Illinois State, has found that next level so far. He has posted two victories in the 60-meter hurdles, and his personal best time (7.73) is sixth in the country and first in the Big Ten.

Transferring to the Big Ten and bringing home victories immediately is not a small accomplishment, and McConico is pleased with how the transfer between schools has gone.

“I feel like the transition has gone very smoothly, and I think my times prove that,” he said. “I’ve been running a lot more consistently in my time here compared to running at [Illinois State]. I also had some troubles with injuries in the past; I was hurt a lot. In my time at Iowa, I’ve felt a lot healthier and just have a more positive outlook on things.”

However, putting up consistent times and staying healthy are not the only differences McConico has noticed since starting to run at the Rec Building.

“The facilities here are amazing,” he said. “I ran here my freshman year, and I was blown away. I love getting to train and compete here on a regular basis. The fans have been great, too. It’s a great crowd, an outstanding atmosphere compared to what I’m used to at my old school. It’s something new, but it’s something that will help me prepare for later in the season.”

McConico has been putting up outstanding performances all season long in the Black and Gold, and while you won’t find him making any bold predictions, he has big expectations for the rest of the season.

“I feel really good with where I’m at right now,” McConico said. “I know I’m going in the right direction, and I want to finish the indoor season right and then transition to the outdoor season and whatever else the season has to bring. I really enjoy competing, and I just want to see how good I can get and how far I can go.”

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