Three Big Takeaways: Too clocks PR in record-breaking 1500m



Nehemia Too competes in the 4×800 relay event at the Drake Relays on April 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Luke Lu/Iowa State Athletics Communications)

Adarsh Tamma

Iowa State track and field’s teams were firing on all cylinders Friday, as Cyclone athletes competed across a multitude of events at the Bryan Clay Invitational, Beach Invitational and Mt. SAC Relays.

In another day full of running events in the Southern California area, Iowa State athletes recorded a total of nine personal bests across all three meets. The Cyclones middle-distance group led the way, with the Iowa State men recording four personal bests in the 1500m at the Bryan Clay Invite.

The duo of Bella Heikes Riley Beach earned two more PRs for Iowa State in the women’s 1500m, recording times of 4:27.93 and 4:28.86 respectively.

Going along with the fast times, it was one of the Cyclones’ All-Americans who stole the headlines, as he nearly put up a school record whilst competing among some of the nation’s best athletes. Iowa State were also highlighted by top times in the sprints and got a couple of debuts over the course of the day.

Too runs down 1500m PR

Senior Nehemia Too recorded the highlight of the day for the Cyclones, as he recorded a personal best in the men’s 1500m during the nightcap of the Bryan Clay Invitational.

Too ran in a tough heat, as he matched up against fellow All-Americans Abdihamid Nur and Jonathan Davis of Northern Arizona and Illinois. Both athletes earned First-Team honors at the NCAA Indoor national championships in March, with Nur completing a double by winning both the 3000 and 5000m titles.

Nur and Davis pushed the pace early, as they went on to finish 1-2 with times of 3:36.33 and 3:36.85 respectively. They both broke their personal bests by wide margins, with Nur taking down his old time by nearly seven seconds. In fact, all those who finished ahead of Too broke their respective PRs, with six of them also being named All-Americans during the indoor season.

Behind Nur and Davis, Washington’s Luke Houser (3:37.51) and Northern Arizona’s Nico Young (3:37.75) finished third and fourth respectively, while the Drake pair of Adam Fogg (3:38.15) and Isaac Basten (3:39.08) clocked in just before Too in seventh and eighth. Portland’s Cathal Doyle finished sixth in a time of 3:38.05 to break his previous top mark by more than a second.

Too finished ninth with a final time of 3:39.27 to narrowly beat out NAU freshman Drew Bosley for the spot. With his run, Too lowered his PR by nearly five seconds, as he ran 3:44.17 at last year’s Big 12 Championships.

Too’s time is also now the second fastest in Iowa State history, as he became just the fifth Cyclone runner to record a sub-3:40 time in the 1500m. Joining Too on that list are school record holder Steve Green (3:39.19), Barnaba Korir (3:39.36), Bob Verbeeck (3:39.55) and former teammate Festus Lagat (3:39.93).

Three of those four times came in professional meets, making Too’s performance the best in the collegiate meet for the Cyclones since Lagat’s time at the 2021 Hayward Premiere.

Joining Too in the personal best category was junior Jason Gomez, who finished second in the fifth heat of the day with a time of 3:41.69. Gomez, who ran a PR in the 800m at last week’s Sun Angel Classic, finished with another top time for the Cyclones by recording the tenth-fastest 1500m time in program history. Gomez just beat out Jon Brown’s mark of 3:41.70 from 1991 to enter the Cyclone leaderboard.

Kohut-Jackson, Clay compete in event debuts

Spanning across both the Bryan Clay and Invites, freshman Noah Kohut-Jackson and junior Gage Clay both recorded top times in their debut events of the 3000m steeplechase and 100m dash respectively.

Kohut-Jackson made his outdoor season debut at the Sun Angel Classic, where he finished 13th overall in the 1500m with a new PR of 3:54.23. Entering Friday, he had competed over the 3000m distance just once, finishing 13th in the 3000m at the Iowa State Classic last year.

In his heat on Friday, Kohut-Jackson finished first in a time of 9:20.25. After eight of the initial runners did not start, Kohut-Jackson’s heat included just two other athletes in Ty Lopez, who was competing unattached, and Long Beach State’s Antonioa Munoz.

Kohut-Jackson finished more than ten seconds clear of Lopez, who recorded a time of 9:30.75. Munoz clocked a time of 9:58.16 in his third collegiate steeplechase.

Clay went a bit out of his comfort zone at the Bryan Clay Invite, as he ran in his first collegiate 100m race. Competing in heat six, Clay finished second in his race by clocking a time of 10.76 seconds, losing out on the top spot Evan Essapa of the University of Alberta.

Clay competed in the 100m during his high school career, having won the Western Iowa Conference championship as a senior.

Returning to the track for the 200m dash, Clay recorded another PR in the 200m dash, again claiming a runner-up finish in his heat with a wind-legal time of 21.44 seconds. Clay broke his top time from a week ago by 0.06 seconds, and was Iowa State’s top performer by finishing 16th overall. James Ezeonu improved his personal best by 0.01 seconds with a mark of 21.94 seconds, while Charlie Johnson recorded a time of 22.41 seconds to finish sixth in heat 11.

Hall and Vlahovic continue hurdles success

For the second meet in a row, the Canadian pair of Kaylyn Hall and Katarina Vlahovic finshed in the top-ten of the women’s 100m hurdles with third and sixth-place honors respectively at the Bryan Clay Invite.

With both athletes competing in the fastest heat of the day, Hall edged out her teammate with a time of 13.35 seconds to record the fastest time among collegians. Hall’s mark was just 0.06 seconds off of her personal best a time she recorded en route to a second place performance at the Sun Angel Classic.

Vlahovic, who like Hall also owns one of the top five times in program history, was just off of her top time with a final mark of 13.61 seconds. Vlahovic’s PR of 13.47 is currently the fifth-fastest on the Iowa State leaderboard, as she finished behind Elena Carter of Montana State.

Both Hall and Vlahovic returned to the track to wrap up their meets in the 400m hurdles and 200m dash respectively.

Hall earned another top-five performance for the Cyclone women when she placed fourth in the hurdles with a time of 1:00.29. Hall has shown consistency in the 400m hurdles, with her two other marks in the event so far this season being 59.32 seconds and 1:00.24 at the Sun Angel Classic.

Vlahovic finished 47th overall in the 200m dash, recording a time of 25.08 seconds to take third in heat three. Vlahovic narrowly lost out on the runner-up spot to teammate Zakiyah Amos, who posted a mark of 25.03 seconds. Bria Barnes led the trio, as she clocked 24.90 seconds to finish 33rd overall. 

The Cyclones will wrap up their week in the Golden State on Saturday. The final day of the Beach Invitational will kick off for the Cyclones with the running of the women’s 100m-hurdles at 1:25 p.m.