Three Big Takeaways: Gomez leads ISU 800m charge


Iowa State junior Jason Gomez competes in the 800m run at the ISU Holiday Invitational on Dec. 11, 2021.

Adarsh Tamma

Iowa State wrapped its weekend on Saturday at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The Cyclones’ schedule saw athletes compete across a wide array of events on both the track and field, as they recorded eleven top-ten finishes.

The Cyclones’ highlights mainly centered around the track, with the action being focused on the middle distance and sprinting events.

Iowa State also earned a top-five finish in the field events, as Kevin Sakson concluded his weekend by taking on challenging field in the shot put. 

Gomez and Kipyego break into top-10

The Cyclone men’s team had their highlight of the meet come in the 800m run, where four of their six entries finished in the top-ten, including Jason Gomez and Darius Kipyego earning gold and silver respectively.

Gomez broke his outdoor personal best time in the third heat of the day, as he was the only runner to record a negative split by running 400m lap times of 53.93 and 53.20 seconds to finish in 1:47:12. Gomez’ mark was just 0.10 seconds off of his indoor PR, and moved him up to #6 all-time in Iowa State history. He also exceeded teammate Alexander Lomong’s top mark of 1:47:69, as he became the first Cyclone athlete to run under 1:47.30 since 1989.

Kipyego wasn’t far behind Gomez in the race, as he took the runner-up spot in a time of 1:47.22. Up until Saturday, Kipyego had never run below 1:48 in an 800m race, as the freshman’s previous personal best was 1:48.87 from the Arkansas Qualifier in February. His mark also earned him top-ten status, as he now owns the seventh-fastest time in program history. Gomez and Kipyego are the fastest pair of Cyclone 800m runners in over 30 years, as their performances on the outside looking into the coveted sub-1:47 club.

Following Gomez and Kipyego was senior Peter Smith, who also broke his personal best by finishing fifth overall in 1:49.35. All-American Cebastian Gentil placed eight with a mark of 1:50.47, while Tanner Anderson nearly broke his PR by running 1:51.90 in his outdoor season debut.

Sakson fifth in shot put

Sophomore thrower Kevin Sakson improved on his initial eight place finish in Friday’s discus throw competition by taking fifth in the shot put on Saturday.

Sakson posted a 0.500 record in Saturday’s competition, as half of his six attempts were ruled to be foul. His best mark of the day came in the second round, when he launched the shot for a mark of 17.85 meters. Sakson’s following two attempts were 17.62 and 17.45 meters in rounds four and six respectively.

The shot put field was littered with talent, including two of the current best collegians in Turner Washington and Patrick Larrison of Arizona State and Kansas respectively. Washington is the reigning NCAA champion both indoor and outdoors, having collected his second indoor title just a couple of weeks ago in Arkansas. Larrison is more familiar competition to Sakson, as he finished just ahead of him at February’s Big 12 Championships to take fifth in the shot.

Saturday’s competition saw a reversal of results however, as Sakson got some revenge by out-performing Larrison by just four centimeters to claim the top-five spot. 

Washington finished runner-up with a best throw of 20.87 meters, with the competition being won by Olympian Daniel Hill. Hill recorded a top throw of 21.25 meters on his fifth attempt. He won the 2018 National Championship and finished runner-up at the 2015 NCAA finals when he was competing for Penn State.

Hall earns top-three hurdles finish

Kaylyn Hall once again put up a strong performance in both hurdles events for the Cyclone women, as she and teammate Katarina Vlahovic finished within the top-five of the 100m hurdles final.

Hall and Vlahovic broke into the top-five of Iowa State’s all-time leaderboard during Friday’s preliminaries, as they recorded times of 13.29 and 13.47 seconds respectively. Both marks are now within the top-five, as Hall now owns the second-fastest time in program history.

In Saturday’s final, Hall just lost out on a runner-up to Arizona State’s Kiera Christie-Galloway, who owns Iowa State’s school record in the event with a time of 13.10 seconds. Maribel Caicedo UTEP blew away the field however, taking first in a time of 13.21 seconds, which was over a tenth of a second better than second place Christie-Galloway. Vlahovic earned fifth place honors with a 13.50-second performance.

Hall returned to the Sun Angel track a little under two hours later to take part in the 400m hurdles. Hall broke her PR in the event in her first meet of the season, earning first place at the Bobcat Invite with a time of 59.32 seconds.

It was another UTEP to beat Hall in the final, as she finished runner-up to freshman Loubna Benhadja by finishing in a time of 1:00.24. Benhadja claimed the gold nearly two seconds ahead of Hall in 58.73, as she is currently embarking on her first collegiate season for the Miners after representing her native Algeria at the 2020 Summer Olympics. In Tokyo, she finished eight in her heat with a personal-best time of 57.19 seconds.

Iowa State’s teams will part ways for their next fixture, with athletes competing at the Bryan Clay Invitational, Beach Invitational and Mt. SAC Relays. All three meets will be held in California.