March 8, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Two years ago, .01 of a second kept University of Iowa hurdler Jordan Mullen from becoming a first-team indoor All-American. He looks at this weekend's opportunity for atonement as a reward.
Mullen, a senior, is one of 16 qualifiers for the NCAA Division I 60-meter hurdle competition March 8-9 at the University of Arkansas.
"Missing the final (in 2011 in College Station, Texas) was like a dagger to the back," Mullen said. "My main goal is to go out and run my race, stay focused and not let the nerves take over. There are a lot of hot people out there, but I feel I can run with anyone in the nation if I get a good start."
Mullen won two Iowa High School track championships for Griswold as a freshman, and he added five more state and two Drake Relays titles in three seasons at Atlantic. He caught the attention of UI assistant coach Joey Woody when he captured a second 110-meter hurdle championship at Drake as a senior with a meet-record time of 14.04.
"When I was watching him, I was like, `Wow, this kid has something special,'" Woody said. "I think he felt like even though he could get more (scholarship) money somewhere else, he decided Iowa was a better place for him to excel, and obviously he has."
"Missing the final (in 2011 in College Station, Texas) was like a dagger to the back. My main goal is to go out and run my race, stay focused and not let the nerves take over. There are a lot of hot people out there, but I feel I can run with anyone in the nation if I get a good start."
UI senior hurdler
"This will be my third time running (at the Randal Tyson Track Center); it's a fast track," Mullen said. "I have to stay focused on my lane. It's all about the start because it's only a seven second race."
"I feel very confident he can make the final," Woody said. "Being an All-American is our No. 1 priority. There is no reason he can't be a top three athlete at the national championships. He has the talent, he has run fast times, and he is getting better every week. Jordan's last race was his best race, so I feel confident he's going to go in and get a personal best. If it's good enough to win, that will be great. If his personal best means placing fifth or sixth, then that's OK, too."
Mullen's time of 7.70 at Big Tens is the eight-best qualifying time in Division I. The national leaders are Eddie Lovett of Florida (7.54) and Spencer Adams of Clemson (7.59). Runners three through eight are separated by 0.05 seconds, and Mullen knows how significant every hundredth of a second can be at the national championships.
"This is kind of our way to get back a little redemption to show that he is one of the best in the country," Woody said. "We're confident in what he can do."
Through the years, and primarily because of injuries, college track fans have seen more of Mullen during the indoor season, even though his strength is outdoors. His seven-step approach is more conducive to a 110-meter race with 10 hurdles than it is for a 60-meter race and five hurdles.
"I believe I'm a better 110 hurdler, but (running the 60 hurdles) is pushing forward to see what I can do the rest of the season. This is a big setup for the 110s," Mullen said. "The seven-step sets you up for the latter half of a longer race. I'm starting to hit my rhythm about hurdle three, and that only leaves two to make up that gap (in a 60-meter hurdle race). With another seven in front of me, I'll be able to close a lot better, and closing has always been a strong point of my race."
A strong closer in hurdle races, Mullen is also putting a strong close on his collegiate career. This weekend will lay the finishing touches on his indoor career, but his potential during outdoors is still a mystery.
"I don't know my outdoor potential, and that's what keeps driving me," Mullen said. "I haven't proven to myself what I can do yet. If I was to walk off the track after last year, or after this year, not knowing what I can do, it would eat at me for the rest of my life."
The semifinal for the men's 60-meter hurdle race is Friday, March 8, at 6:15 p.m. (CT). The final will be Saturday, March 9, at 7:10 p.m.