Cyclones make high jump podium on final day of relays

Iowa State’s Jaymes Dennison hugs the curve during the men’s distance medley relay at the Drake Relays in Des Moines April 29. The Cyclones finished ninth in 10:02.25.

Mike Burvee

The final day of the Drake Relays began gloomy and early in Des Moines on Saturday. For the Iowa State men’s track and field team, the action started with the high jump, featuring Cody Durbin and Jalen Ford.

While the rain was coming down outside, the two high jumpers were staying warm and dry inside the Drake Fieldhouse. Durbin was eliminated early on, needing to leap a height of 6 feet, 8 inches. That height tied his indoor personal record, and was two inches shy of tying his outdoor record.

The other competitor, Ford, finished in third place. Ford ran into little resistance, making his clearance of 6 feet, 8 inches and 6 feet, 9 ¾ look effortless. His one setback came in his first attempt at 6 feet, 9 ¾ inches, stopping up short of the mat.

“It was extremely greatening, the energy just kept going,” Ford said. “Sometimes you get discouraged, but having the support from Iowa State and non-Iowa State fans is part of the spirit of the relays.”

Though Ford was unable to set a new personal record, he still ended in third. Of the other three who made it that far, Jacob Mots from Dordt college was the only one to clear the height of 7 feet, 1 inch.

“Maybe they’re not in the same division as us but it just shows how crazy high jump is,” Ford said. “Division III kids come out and jump PR’s, like a kid from Knoxville did today.”

To make matters even more impressive, the event was on indoor turf, a completely different feeling than competing on an outdoor field.

“It was weird running on the turf, so I was a little nervous going into that first jump,” Ford said. “I kinda scared myself after initially touching the bar but after that it was rapid fire and I felt great.”

The Cyclones competition continued on the cold, wet track with the distance medley relay. The four competing were Dan Curts, Jaymes Dennison, Roshon Roomes and Andrew Jordan.

The first leg was the 1,200-meter run by Curts, who handed off the baton to Dennison. At that time, the Cyclones were in third place.

Dennison ran his leg of 400 meters, gaining one spot. Then Roomes took over to run the 800-meter leg.

Coming into the final leg, the Cyclones were in third place, with only the 1600-meter stretch to go. The pack tightened up and late addition, Jordan, started to lose ground.

“The end of the race ended up being pretty tactical,” Curts said.

The weather conditions didn’t do them any favors, with steady rain and wind acting as resistance.

The four combined for a time of 10:02.25, finishing in ninth place overall.

“It was a good experience for me,” Jordan said. “This was my first Drake relays as a Cyclone, and it was fun to compete with these guys.”

The final field event the men took part in was the hammer throw, with Chris Celona representing the Cyclones. His best throw of 176 feet, 3 inches earned him fourth place in the event.

The Cyclones wrapped up their 2017 relays competition with Derek Jones in the 400-meter hurdles.

This was Jones’ final Drake Relays, but it was also his first competition of the outdoor season. 

“It’s a little unfortunate that my last relays are just another meet under the belt,” Jones said. “There are more important meets coming up, though.”

Jones ran a time of 52.49 seconds, good for eighth place in the event.

“Considering I haven’t got a chance to compete in about a month I was pretty happy with the time I ran,” Jones said. “I ran about the same time today as I did when I was healthy at Stanford.”

Jones sat in 39th place of 48 hurdlers in the regional qualifying field coming into Saturday. The coaches and Jones are optimistic that even if he isn’t projected to make the cut after this weekend, he will get there after conference.

“I’ll definitely run faster at Big 12s,” Jones said. “I need to finish out this last month of my career and stay healthy.”

Two former Cyclones in Hillary Bor and Edward Kemboi also ran, competing in the 1500-meter elite invitational.

Kemboi competed with Iowa State until 2015, when he turned pro with the Kenyan National team. One of his top finishes was winning the 2014 NCAA Indoor 800-meter race for Iowa State. He also won the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championship in the 800. He served as the pacesetter for the field. 

His former running mate, Bor, ran in the Rio Olympics in 2016, competing in the 3000-meter steeplechase.

Bor ended up in fourth place with a time just under 3:50.

“This is the second-best stadium I’ve ever run in, with Rio being the top” Bor said. “The support we receive here every time makes this a special race.”

Bor and Kemboi will be training and competing in two more meets before getting ready to take part in the USA team trials.