Iowa men's track: Hurdles duo leads Hawkeyes to best NCAA finish since 1967

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central
Jaylan McConico, right, competes in the men's 110 hurdles final Friday in Eugene, Oregon. He took second and Hawkeye teammate Jamal Britt (not pictured, in lane 8) was fourth.

Jaylan McConico had one small hiccup and fell one spot short of his ultimate goal. Jamal Britt matched the best 110-meter hurdles race of his life. Together, the Iowa teammates delivered a significant moment for Hawkeye men's track and field.

McConico finished second in Friday night's 110 hurdles final in the NCAA Outdoor Championships, and Britt came to the line in fourth for the weekend's statement performance for the Hawkeyes. They combined for 13 of Iowa's 19 team points, a total that was good for 12th place — the program's highest finish since a seventh in 1967.

McConico completed his dash at Hayward Field in 13.38 seconds, finishing a stride behind Alabama's Robert Dunning, who won gold in 13.25. McConico knows he could've gone a tick faster; he set Iowa's school record and the nation's No. 2 time, at 13.23, a month ago at the Big Ten championships.

"I thought Jaylan had it," Iowa track and field director Joey Woody said. "He had it from the gun through the seventh hurdle. I think he hit hurdle No. 8 and … recovered extremely well, but he was going to win it up until that hurdle."

More:Two years later, Iowa men repeat Big Ten outdoor track title with 'a complete team win'

The Bolingbrook, Illinois, product transferred to Iowa following his sophomore season at Illinois State. As a Hawkeye junior, McConico finished 11th at the NCAAs. But with the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the 2020 outdoor season, McConico elected to use his “free” year of eligibility to take a title shot as a fifth-year senior.

McConico fell one spot short of becoming the Hawkeyes' first men’s outdoor champion at the NCAAs since the mile relay won it all in 1967.

Britt, a junior, ran 13.45 seconds, charging from lane 8 to take fourth (worth five team points). 

“Really proud of both those guys. My heart’s out to Jaylan," Woody said. "He’s done an amazing job. He came to Iowa for one reason, and that was to win an NCAA championship.

“He had an extremely impressive outdoor season. I’m really proud of that guy and what he’s done for our program. … I think he’s got a great shot at making the Olympic team.”

Woody was excited about the thought of McConico, Britt and former Hawkeye Aaron Mallett competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials, back in Eugene. The first round of the 110 hurdles is June 25.

As a team, Iowa entered the meet with hopes of a top-10 NCAA finish. That's been the program goal under Woody, to be a consistent top-10 team nationally. Thanks to a season-best run of 3:02.54 for fifth place (and four team points) in the night's final event, the 4x400-meter relay, Iowa was the highest-finishing Big Ten and Midwest team. The Hawkeyes wound up two spots and 4½ points behind 10th-place Florida State.

The 4x400 team of Austin Lietz, Antonio Woodard, Julien Gillum and Wayne Lawrence Jr. registered the third-best time in Iowa history.

On Thursday, Iowa senior Will Daniels became the first Hawkeye decathlete to place in the top eight at the NCAAs, taking seventh place with 7,635 points. That was good for two Iowa team points. If Daniels had matched the school-record 7,864 points he scored at the Big Ten championships, he would’ve placed third.

"We just missed our team goal of scoring 20-plus and finish top 10, but I am extremely proud of this team and how well they competed this entire season," Woody said. "To win the Big Ten indoor championship, Big Ten outdoor championship and finish top 12 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships ... is unprecedented in the history of our program."

Tausaga finishes Iowa career with silver

Iowa fifth-year senior Laulaga Tausaga had the lead in the women's discus until Saturday evening's final throw from Arizona State's Jorinde van Klinken. Tausaga's season-best throw of 63.53 meters still was good enough for second place but one spot shy of defending her 2019 NCAA championship. Van Klinken's winning heave of 65.01 meters broke the NCAA meet record.

Combined with her sixth-place finish in the shot put, Tausaga accounted for all 11 of Iowa's team points, good for a 26th-place finish on the women's side.

“Lagi will forever go down as one of the all-time greatest athletes to ever wear a Iowa uniform in any sport," Woody said. "She has a bright future ahead of her in this sport, and I can’t wait to watch her compete next week at the trials."