Three Big Takeaways: Distance relay team gets gold at Drake Relays


Collin Maguire/Iowa State Daily

Kelvin Bungei competes in the men’s 3000m steeplechase at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on April 29, 2022.

Adarsh Tamma

Poor weather on Friday didn’t stop the Drake Relays from continuing on, as Iowa State track forged ahead in a week-long residency at the Blue Oval in Des Moines.

The Cyclones had a bit of everything going on, as their athletes competed in events ranging from the sprints to the hurdles, distance relays, as well as out on the field.

The “Relays” portion of the Drake Relays also kicked off on Friday, as the first of a host of team races throughout the remainder of the weekend got underway with the running of the men’s and women’s 4x800m events. 

Iowa State interests lied in much longer territory however, as they were looking to set their sights on a bit of program history.

Men’s mile relay records historic victory

In the distance running events, the highlight of the day for the Cyclones came in one of their opening relays of the weekend, as the men’s 4x1600m team took first place in a time of 16:23.05 to beat a field of thirteen other schools.

In winning, the quartet of Ryan Ford, Ezekiel Kibichii, Chad Johnson and Nehemia Too became the first Cyclone men’s team to take the mile relay title at the Drake Relays since 1993.

Ford led off for Iowa State, and he put the Cyclones in good position at the end of his leg. Ford’s lap time of 4:10.36 was well below his personal best of 4:15.35, as he handed off to Ezekiel Kibichii for the second leg and the Cyclones in fifth place.

Kibichii continued Ford’s strong start for Iowa State, as he stayed up with the lead pack of teams that included Oklahoma State, Missouri and Wisconsin. He improved the Cyclones’ placing, as they were in fourth between the second and third legs. Kibichii’s time of 4:06.11 nearly beat his own PR of 

Running in third position, Chad Johnson propelled Iowa State into to the led thanks to a strong performance over his leg. Johnson is one of the Cyclones’ veterans in the middle-distance events, as his indoor mile personal best of 4:00.77 is currently the ninth best in Iowa State history.

Johnson’s leg, which was run in a team-best split time of 4:01.98, only added to the Cyclones’ lead over the rest of the field heading into the final handoff. All-American Too brought Iowa State home in classic fashion, as he paced to a 1-mile time of 4:04.61 and crossed the line to claim victory. It was a perfect end to the race for the Cyclones, who recorded negative splits between the first and second and third and fourth legs of the race to take the title.

Sakson climbs shot put leaderboard

The throwing team had another strong outing for the Cyclone field events squad on Friday, with four athletes competing in four different events. For the Cyclone men’s squad, Kevin Sakson stood out by breaking his personal best in the shot put.

Sakson entered this week’s meet having competed in both the shot and discus throw in his last three competitions. He came into the meet with a season-best mark of 17.85 meters, which he threw at the Sun Angel Classic in Early April. 

In his first round of the day, Sakson threw for 16.49 meters, and sat in the middle of the pack. Despite scratching on his second attempt, Sakson recorded his personal best in round three by throwing for exactly 19.00 meters, shatter in previous top mark by more than a meter. His performance catapulted him up the program’s all-time leaderboard, as he now owns the fifth-best mark ever by an Iowa State thrower.

For his efforts, Sakson finished fourth overall, falling three Big Ten athletes. Maxwell Otterdahl and Alexander Talley made it a 1-2 finish for Nebraska, and Nikolas Curtiss of Iowa completed the podium with a third place performance. 

March scores discus title

Junior Emily March has gotten the outdoor season off to a flying start, has not only excelled in the discus throw for the Cyclones, but also managed to break her PR in the hammer throw with a mark of 54.79 meters at the Sun Angel Classic.

The school record holder in the disc was again in her winning ways on Friday, as she became the first Iowa State athlete to win the women’s discus competition at the Drake Relays. March was never really out of contention for the first place spot, and led the field after the first three rounds of throws.

March stayed patient through her first four throws, as she first took the lead in the second with a throw of 57.36 meters. This was followed up by a 56.92m mark in round three, before dropping down to 55.24 meters on her fourth attempt of the day.

March seemed to save the best for last, as her final round throw of 57.88 meters not only set a new season best, but also meant that she had put the competition well out of reach. North Dakota State’s Amanda Anderson was the closest to catch March, as her top mark of 56.56 meters was still more than a meter away from her opponent. 

The win was March’s second of the season in the discus, as she claimed gold at last week’s Musco Twilight meet in Iowa City.

The Drake Relays will conclude on Saturday, with the Cyclones beginning their final day of competition at 11:30 a.m. in men’s discus and women’s hammer throw.