June 2017

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Page 138 of 152

139 E very collegiate athletic program has that one recruit who moves the needle, increases ex- pectations, and wins with regularity. In the case of University of Iowa men's track and field, that recruit was Aaron Mallett. Mallett finished his Hawkeye career June 9 in lane three inside Hayward Field, affectionately referred to as the "earth's fastest track." A 2-mile-per-hour head wind teased him as he covered 110 meters and cleared 10 hurdles in 13.65 seconds. It was 0.41 seconds slower than his school-record (13.24) established while winning the Big Ten Champion- ship on May 14 in State College, Pennsylvania. Still, he finished fourth to become a first-team All- American. But the fourth-place national finish was three placings below where Mallett envisioned. Even so, when you look at the Mallett Era from 2013-17, it was the final exceptional outing by the most ex- ceptional hurdler the program has known. "Immediately I thought, 'Do I get another chance?'" Mallett said. "I saw my name pop up well from where I wanted it to be in fourth, but you get one shot at it, you only get 13 seconds. It's the Division I level; I know the guys I am compet- ing against and the level of competition. Aer the race I knew ways I could have been cleaner and crisper, but (fourth) is the result I got." e race was a blur to Mallett the morning aer he and his teammates tied for 17th in the nation with 15 points. Mallett accounted for five of those points. He remembers reacting well to the starting gun and feeling good over the first hurdle. Perhaps the excitement got to him as Mallett neared the second hurdle and in his words, he "faltered a little." "I tried to get it back, but I rushed my transition which caused me to hit a lot of hurdles and get sloppy with my form," Mallett said. "at allowed guys to get away from me." It was the first olive out of the jar for a Hawkeye men's team that was shutout in the NCAA Cham- pionships a year ago. Soon, sophomore Reno Tuufuli added four points to the team total by placing fih in the discus with a throw of 196-feet, 2-inches. An hour later, the 4x400-meter relay of sophomore DeJuan Frye, sophomore Mar'yea Har- ris, freshman Collin Hofacker, and freshman Em- manuel Ogwo placed third in a school-record time of 3:01.91. Iowa's point production came from three sophomores, two freshmen, and Mallett, the graybeard senior who bought into head coach Joey Woody's vision as a high school senior in St. Louis. "I saw coach Woody working with guys that I felt were developmental guys and he was making them so good," Mallett said. "If he is making those guys good, then I thought he could make me good as well. I bought into what he was selling about his program and where he wanted to go. Along the way I saw he was getting me to those points, so his beliefs and visions were the same I wanted in my career." For Mallett, the dreams and visions of a collegiate rookie in the fall of 2013 turned into six All-Amer- ica honors (three indoor, three outdoor) and five Big Ten championships (three outdoor, two in- door). He holds school records in the 110 hurdles, 60 hurdles (7.63), and he anchored the school- record 4x100 relay (39.12). "To say I could arguably be Iowa's best hurdler is a special accomplishment and I will cherish that until someone comes and betters me," Mallett said. "For people to look at me in that light means a lot." Mallett will compete at the USA Track and Field Championships from June 22-25 in Sacramento, California. If he does well, he hopes to get a con- tract and compete professionally. ere is something else he wants to happen in two weeks: Mallett would like to compete in University of Iowa colors. "I think coach Woody is going to let me wear the Iowa uniform one more time for that," Mallett said. "at will be fun."

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