Elahi claims 400 hurdles title, Shoeman competes in fast heat

Stephen Koenigsfeld

DES MOINES — With two second- and a third-place finishes in her previous Drake Relays, ISU sprinter and hurdler Kianna Elahi was able to claim her first Drake Relays title on Saturday.

Elahi said she had been working on a specific stride progression helps her perform to the best of her abilities. 

“My goal in my race today was to go out and be able to make it through seven hurdles on my left leg,” Elahi said. “I was able to get that seventh one, even though I had to stretch out a bit.”

Elahi posted a time of 56.78 to place first in the women’s 400-meter hurdles, but said, however, there is still room for improvement.

“I’ve been hoping to keep progressing down [in time],” Elahi said. “I’d really like to run a 55.00 at some point this year.”

Elahi said she would like to see herself as an All-American by the end of the year as well.

The common topic in mind at the Drake Relays during the weekend was the weather. With gusty winds and frigid temperatures, athletes throughout the competition were affected in some way.

Elahi said the weather wasn’t as much of a factor on Saturday during the finals race as much as it was Friday in the preliminary round.

“[Friday] was kind of rough, but [Saturday] I felt we were really lucky — it was a lot warmer,” Elahi said. “The wind was much slower and it felt nice to race.”

Although most spectators would disagree, Elahi said the weather Saturday was ideal for her competition.

In the same 400 hurdles race in which Elahi claimed her title, Iowa State listed three other runners. Sprints coach Nate Wiens said he was impressed with all four of the hurdlers.

“Between Kianna and Ese [Okoro], the goal was to win it, and then come second,” Wiens said. “[Kianna] was very consistent and very happy.”

Of the four individuals competing in the 400 hurdles, a last-minute entry by Krista Shoeman allowed her to become eligible to compete in the fastest heat of the event.

“Going in we thought everybody would post a 57[-second time],” Wiens said. “And that’s the great thing about the hurdles: If you stay on your stride progression, you’re going to be happy with your results.”

Shoeman said on Friday that she was a little hesitant about competing against some of the fastest hurdlers in the country.

“I’m kind of nervous because I’m not up to that level yet,” Shoeman said on Friday. “But I’m still excited to even be able to run here.”

Elahi, Shoeman and other 400 hurdlers will be competing in two weeks at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships in Manhattan, Kas.