Iowa's Laulauga Tausaga competes in the womens' shot put during the 2018 Drake Relays at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa on Friday, April 27, 2018. Tausaga finished fifth with a distance of 15.40 meters. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Big Tens await track and field

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By Andrew Donlan

andrew-donlan@uiowa.edu

It’s that time of year again — the Big Ten meet marks the beginning of the championship season for the Hawkeyes.

The Iowa track and field team will head to Bloomington, Indiana, this weekend for the outdoor Big Ten championships. After the Hawkeyes’ final tune-up at the Drake Relays on April 26-28, the team enjoyed a weekend to rest and prepare for the climax of the season.

“We have all been battling things — hamstring, shoulder, hip injuries,” All-American Briana Guillory said. “But that only teaches you to perfect whatever else you can while dealing with that. Reaching a mindset where you’re ready to not let up no matter what is the goal.”

The Hawkeyes have a plethora of All-Big Ten performers. Brittany Brown has won the 200 at the Big Tens twice and was named second-team All-Big Ten for her performance in the 100 in 2017. She also leads the Big Ten with a time of 22.76 seconds in the 200 this season.

Laulauga Tausaga, who has set two school records in the discus and shot put this season, won the first discus championship in school history in 2017. She leads the Big Ten this season with a discus mark of 59.86 meters.

On the men’s side, Reno Tuufuli took second in the discus at last year’s Big Tens.

RELATED: Iowa looks to carry momentum from Drake Relays into Big Tens

Guillory, who was the Big-Ten Freshman of the Year after her performance at the championships in 2016, said that experience isn’t as advantageous as one would think.

“No Big Tens weekend is like the last,” she said. “Nothing makes me less calm in that setting.”

The other Big Ten leaders include Mar’Yea Harris in the 400 (45.71 seconds), Andrea Shine in the 10,000 meters (33:50.25), Nathan Mylenek in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (8:48.66), Jahisha Thomas in the long jump (6.44 meters) and triple jump (13.32 meters), and the men’s 4×400-meter relay team (3:04.38).

The men’s relay team consists of Harris, Collin Hofacker, DeJuan Frye, and Antonio Woodard.

Thomas won the triple jump and the long jump at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in February.

Harris finished runner-up in the 400 in 2017 and at the indoor championships. He hopes to turn the corner this weekend and place first in the event.

“I want to run a time of 44 seconds in the 400 meters, that’s my goal,” Harris said. “For a team goals, I’d want our 4×400 meter relay team to win and for us to win the Big Tens overall.”

The team has high expectations. Overwhelming success has become the expectation, if not a staple, since Joey Woody took over as the director of track and field in 2015.

Despite that level of expectation, Iowa returned from the indoor Big Ten Championships with modest finishes — the Iowa women placed fifth, and the men placed seventh. If the results are similar, it will be a disappointment for a very talented 2018 squad.

“I’m well-rested and done with finals, but I still feel like I’m forgetting things,” Guillory said. “Now, I’m just trying to maintain good vibes within our team from here on out.”

After the Big Ten championships, those who qualify will head to the NCAA meet in Sacramento, California, on May 24-26.

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