Three Big Takeaways: Nelson breaks hurdles PR at Musco Twilight


LUKE LU/Iowa State Athletics

Alex Lomong (left) and Joven Nelson (right) compete in the 4x400m relay event at the Cyclone Invite on Jan. 23 at Lied Recreation Athletic Center.

Adarsh Tamma

Iowa State ventured out to familiar territory on Saturday, as Cyclone athletes took part in the Musco Twilight meet in Iowa City. The meet, held at the Francis X. Cretzmeyer Track at the University of Iowa, attracted many local programs to take part in the competition, including Creighton and Northern Iowa.

Field events dominated the highlight reel for the Cyclones, as they recorded a pair of season and personal bests across the men’s and women’s teams. Iowa State finished the day with 10 top-10 performances, including a lone gold medal finish by a school record-holder.

March’s discus gold leads field events

Junior thrower Emily March won her first discus throw competition of the season, as she recorded a season-best mark of 189 feet, 2 inches to take top honors in the throwing circle.

March, who currently owns the program record of 191 feet and 2 inches, recorded her gold medal-winning throw on her first attempt. She held off Iowa’s Kat Moody and Jamie Kaffron to take the title.

The weight throw wouldn’t prove to be as successful for March, as she was disqualified from the competition after fouling on all three of her opening attempts. Iowa State wasn’t out however, as Antonella Creazzola finished third with a top mark of 186 feet, 1 inch. The Cyclones also got a personal best out of the event from freshman Danielle Hoyle, who threw a best mark of 159 feet, 1 inch on her fifth attempt to finish in ninth. Hoyle last finished in the top-ten of an event at the weight throw at the Snowshoe Open in February.

Kevin Sakson nearly duplicated March’s feat on the men’s side, as he finished third in the discus. The competition saw the top three athletes only convert two legal throws on their six attempts, with Sakson getting his top mark of 179 feet, 1 inch on his fourth attempt of the afternoon.

Sakson’s mark was a season best, as he broke the 179-foot mark for the first time this year. He was joined in the top-ten by teammate Jonathan Gannon, who finished sixth with a top throw of 164 feet, 2 inches on his third try. Gannon, like March, got his best mark on his only legal throw of the competition, scratching out of the other attempts.

Willits enters long jump top-ten

Multi-eventer Sydney Willits provided another source of success for the Iowa State field events squad, as she capped off her collegiate debut in the women’s long jump by finishing second with a personal-best mark of 20-3 3/4.

On Saturday, Willits was locked in a battle for first place with Northern Illinois’ Jazmyn Smith, as both athletes were the only two to record mark of 20 feet or greater.

March got out of the gate strong, as she registered jumps of 20-02.25 and 20-01.50 on her first two attempts to surpass the 20-foot barrier for the first time and break her personal best of 19′ 11″. Smith got her best mark of the day in the third round, as she jumped for a mark of 20-05.25 to move ahead for the lead, which she would hold through the remainder of the day. Smith, who broke NIU’s school record in February, also helped the Huskies win the women’s 4x100m relay, running the third leg.

Willits made one last attempt to overtake Smith in her last round, as she had not jumped above 6.10 meters through attempts three through five. She recorded a sixth jump of 20-03.75, breaking her PR for the third time and placing herself tied for sixth on Iowa State’s all-time list. Willits’ performance surpassed that of Tatiana Aholou’s mark of 20-01.50 from the 2019 Florida Relays. She is now level with Celeste Johnson, who recorded the same mark at the 1978 Arkansas Relays.

Nelson breaks 54-second barrier

The Cyclones got their highlight of the day on the track through sophomore Joven Nelson, who recorded his fourth-consecutive personal best in the men’s 400m hurdles and finished fourth overall.

Nelson was coming off of a strong outing at the Beach Invitational last week, as he finished 18th overall in a time of 54.34 seconds. This mark would be smashed on Saturday, as Nelson dipped below 54 seconds for the first time ever.

In the second heat and final heat of the day, Nelson faced off against Drake’s David Olowookere and Angelo Romagna. Olowookere is the reigning Missouri Valley Conference champion in the 400m hurdles, having run a career-best mark of 50.81 seconds at last’s May’s meet.

Nelson wasn’t able to surpass the Des Moines sprinters, as Olowookere and Romagna finished first and third respectively, while Dubuque senior JoJo Frost took runner-up honors. Nelson’s time of 53.86 seconds was more than enough of a consolation prize though, as he got closer to the Cyclones’ all-time leaderboard.

Tenth place on Iowa State’s list is Nelson’s former teammate Mason Weh, who ran a time of 51.38 seconds to finish second behind fellow Cyclone Eric Fogltanz at the 2019 Drake Relays.

The Cyclones will stay in Iowa for their next meet, as they will travel down to Des Moines on Wednesday to take part in the Drake Relays.