May 31, 2014
By DARREN MILLER
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- University of Iowa junior Keith Brown spent most of Thursday and Friday off his feet, but it wasn't an ideal way for a runner to rest his legs.
While other Hawkeyes were running, jumping, throwing, or supporting teammates at the NCAA West Preliminary, Brown was bed-ridden with fever, chills, and nausea.
Fortunately for Brown and the Hawkeyes, he didn't compete until Saturday. That's when Brown anchored the 4x100-meter relay to a heat victory in 39.55 seconds -- the seventh fastest time in the West Preliminary at John McDonnell Field. The foursome of senior Tevin-Cee Mincy, freshman O'Shea Wilson, sophomore James Harrington, and Brown advance to the NCAA Final Rounds from June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore.
"As sick as I was, I didn't think I was going to run at all," Brown said. "My body wasn't feeling too good. I'm happy we could do it for Tevin and the coaches. I appreciate them trusting me to anchor the relay after being sick like that."
The same group was clocked in 39.35 on May 18 when it won the Big Ten Conference championship.
"We may not have had our best time, but we executed the way we needed to and we're going to Oregon because of it," Mincy said.
Mincy has been in this situation before. Last season he was a member of the Hawkeye 4x100 unit that placed eighth, earning first-team All-America honors. Iowa ran 39.31 in the 2013 final and Mincy thinks the 2014 group is capable of a top-five placing.
While it took the Hawkeye men's 4x100 relay less than 40 seconds to decide its postseason fate, it took much longer for UI junior triple jumper Babatunde Amosu. Amosu was the 16th -- and final -- competitor to make the finals. He was stuck in that position until his sixth -- and final -- attempt, when he jumped 51 feet, 3 ¾ inches to grab the 12th -- and final -- spot to Eugene.
Amosu described his late-jump heroics as risky and a miracle.
"I believed in myself and people believed in me, too," Amosu said. "I'm going to keep going with the flow; go to nationals and do something great."
If you thought Amosu's timing was good, you should hear the story of freshman sprinter Brittany Brown. She anchored the Hawkeye women's 4x100 relay to third in its heat (44.72) earning an automatic advance to Eugene. Later, she set a school record in the 200 dash by placing third in her heat in 22.95 -- once again moving on to the NCAA Final Round.
"I didn't really PR the whole season until now. The timing is perfect," Brown said. "Everything is all coming together at the same time."
The Hawkeye men were in the final heat when they qualified in the 4x100 relay; the next 4x100 race contained the Hawkeye women.
"I love when the guys go before us because it gives us inspiration," said freshman Elexis Guster, who ran the second leg on the relay. "When they made it to Eugene, we had to make it."
One of Iowa's best bets to advance out of the NCAA West Preliminary was junior Gabe Hull in the discus and he did not disappoint. Hull entered the competition with the fifth-best throw and he placed fifth (195-3).
"The day went probably as expected, nothing spectacular," Hull said. "My throws weren't up to par for me -- they just didn't feel right -- so I'm happy with how the day ended up."
Iowa opens the NCAA Championships on Wednesday, June 11 with the men's 4x100 semifinal at 6 p.m. (CT). The women's 4x100 and women's long jump are at 6:15, and the women's 400 hurdles are at 8:30.