Relay team lifts Hawkeye track and field

Iowa track and field needed points at the Big Tens. Mar’Yea Harris and the rest of the 1,600-meter relay team delivered some help.


Ben Allan Smith

Iowa junior Mar’yea Harris poses for a portrait inside the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.

Robert Read, Sports Reporter

The Iowa men’s track and field team concluded competition at the 2019 Indoor Big Ten Championships with its best indoor finish since 2011, largely because of a championship-winning relay team.

The Hawkeyes’ 70 points put them in a fourth-place tie with Purdue, but were it not for a late comeback by the 1,600-meter relay, Iowa would have been lower in the standings.

The relay has been a strength for Iowa all season long, and the runners were able to flex their muscles after running their way to a Big Ten Championship.

In the final event of the men’s conference meet, Iowa fielded a 1,600-meter relay lineup of Collin Hofacker, Antonio Woodard, Chris Thompson, and Mar’Yea Harris.

As Harris took over on the last leg, Iowa was in third place trailing Rutgers and Ohio State. Harris got some revenge as he rallied past Izaiah Brown of Rutgers — who had beaten Harris earlier in the day in the 400 meters — to move into second place. As the finish line neared, Harris secured the Big Ten Championship in the event by passing Ohio State’s Frank Hayes right at the tape.

RELATED: Iowa women take third, men finish fourth at Big Ten Indoor Championships

The squad finished with a time of 3:07.46 to take home gold and add 10 points to the team’s total.

Nick Rohlman
Iowa’s Mar’yea Harris crosses the finish line during the 4×400 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.

For his performance on the last leg, Harris had the “Clutch Performance of the Week,” according to FloTrack.

As the race was coming to an end, Iowa Director of Track & Field Joey Woody had a good idea that a clutch performance from Harris was imminent.

“When Mar’Yea is out there, you always have a chance,” Woody said. “He is such a great competitor. He knew what he had to do to bring home the title, and he did it. Being able to defend our outdoor relay title from last year was huge. It’s a testament to the entire group — they’ve just kept working all season long, and the results show that.”

As prestigious as the Big Ten title is, it is not the first accolade that the relay team has brought home this season.

At the Tyson Invitational Feb. 8-9, the team broke the school record with a combination of Karayme Bartley, Woodard, Wayne Lawrence Jr., and Harris (3:04.76). The time was good for the seventh fastest nationally.

That time also earned an invitation to compete at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships. Iowa will compete against 11 teams in the hunt for a national title.

Harris wants the group to stick to the basics and keep chipping away.

“It’s a special group,” he said. “It’s something I’m proud to be a part of. There is tremendous talent throughout the group, and we try to push each other every day to be the best team that we can be. That’s something we will continue to do to so we can keep getting better.”

The 1,600-meter relay will next run at the NCAAs on March 9 at 6:55 p.m.

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