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Track Hawks show up huge on their first road meet of the season in Ames

BY MARIO WILLIAMS | JANUARY 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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AMES — Iowa assistant coach Jason Wakenight planned on seeing his athletes running powerfully and fast at the Big Four Duals on Jan. 24. He was not disappointed.

“I was so proud of our whole group,” he said. “I felt like coming here on a bigger track and having a race under our belt was a big thing for us.”

The men’s team swept the meet with wins over Northern Iowa (87-80), Drake (100-53), and Iowa State (87-55), while the women’s team beat Iowa State (70-53), Drake (77-64) but fell short against Northern Iowa.

The team made its mark on the Lied Recreation Center by capturing 12 event titles. To name a few — junior Lake Kwaza won the women’s 60 meter with a time of 7.42, sophomore Mahnee Watts took the crown in the women’s 600 at 1:22.82, senior Kerry Dean won the men’s long jump at 6.78m, and Michael Melchert owned the track, winning the men’s 3,000 meter with a time of 8:36.37.

Most notably, the members of the women’s 4x400-meter “A” squad [sophomore Elexis Guster, Watts, junior MonTayla Holder, and Kwaza] roused the crowd as they waltzed to victory at 3:42.47.

“That 4x4 was fun to watch,” Iowa director of track and field Joey Woody said. “That’s a good solid group, and they definitely have some high expectations that they will go to nationals.”

Freshman Jahisha Thomas won the 60-meter hurdles with an impressive time of 8.60 and came in third in the 200 with a time of 25.65. Both Holder and Guster impressed their coaches as they each snatched titles in races that aren’t their strong points. Holder has never run the 800, and Guster rarely runs in the 200.

The women’s mile and 3,000-meter race had some decent performances, but assistant coach Layne Anderson wasn’t too thrilled. Freshman Marta Bote Gonzalez was the first Hawkeye to finish in the mile, crossing the line at 4:57.26 to earn eighth place. Sophomore Alana Jones finished the 3,000 in 10:01.98 to earn second place.

“We did a good job getting in the mix and competing, but there could be some improvements,” he said.

The men’s side had many high notes — most specifically in the 400 and 600. Their close time marks is something Woody believes is a sign of their intense training. Senior Brennan Davey took the title in the 600-meter with a time of 1:11.24, followed in succession by junior Mitch Wolff (1:11.32), and senior Kaleb VanCleave (1:11.71).

“Their times show us that their training groups are going well,” Woody said. “They’re training at a high level.”

In the men’s mile, senior Kevin Lewis clocked in at 4:07.50 to earn third. The team captain’s time is now 10th all-time in school history.

The men’s 200 was also a meet of intensity and close times. Junior James Harrington took the title with a time of 21.51, senior Keith Brown came in third and clocked in at 21.70, and junior Brendan Thompson finished at 21.77 to earn a fifth.

The Hawkeyes will be on the road again at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Feb. 6.

Follow @marioxwilliams on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa track and field team.


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