Iowa track's Jamal Britt, Jaylan McConico to rub shoulders with world-class hurdlers in the Drake Relays
A couple of current Hawkeye track stars will get to test themselves against some of the world’s best hurdlers Saturday.
Jamal Britt and Jaylan McConico, members of the Iowa men’s track team, advanced to the finals of the special men’s 110-meter hurdles on Friday at the 2021 Drake Relays. Britt qualified fourth at 13.75 seconds while McConico ran 13.78 for sixth.
That means, come Saturday afternoon (at 3:30 p.m., to be exact), they’ll once again compete against a world-class hurdling field at Drake Stadium.
One of the cool parts about the Drake Relays each year is the numerous world-class competitors that compete alongside the high school and college athletes. This year, Drake Relays Director Blake Bolden organized 12 events that include some of the world’s best athletes competing right here in Des Moines.
With the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games scheduled for later this year, many star athletes are using the Drake Relays as a springboard for their spring and summer seasons. Bolden dubbed this week’s special events as "Journey to Gold" events, as part of the Relays World Athletics Silver Level Continental Tour.
Many stars are expected to compete here this weekend, including so many in the 110-meter men’s hurdle events that Bolden expanded Saturday’s initial one-heat final into two full preliminary heats on Friday afternoon.
Consider who else made Saturday’s final:
- Devon Allen, who finished fifth at the 2016 Olympics.
- Shane Brathwaite, a 2012 Olympian who also finished sixth at the 2019 world championships.
- Daniel Roberts, a 2019 national champ who also beat Olympic gold medalist Omar McLeod at the 2019 Drake Relays.
- Aaron Mallet, another former Hawkeye who ran the third-fastest 110-hurdle time in the world last year (13.15).
And also: Britt, a junior, and McConico, a senior.
That heavy Hawkeye presence will add to the fireworks that always come with Saturday’s events at the Drake Relays.
ISU sets new Relays record in 4x800
The Iowa State 4x800-meter relay team broke a 26-year old record Friday evening.
The Cyclone foursome of Jason Gomez, Daniel Nixon, Roshon Roomes and Festus Lagat won the university men's 4x800 relay in 7 minutes, 12.57 seconds, shattering the previous Drake Relays record of 7:14.89 set by Nebraska back in 1995. The time's also good for the fifth-fastest 4x800 race in NCAA history.
"We're a hard-working group," Nixon said afterward. "We train hard every day. Once we saw the sun come out, we were feeling good. This was a great opportunity to go out there and have some fun."
Gomez gave Iowa State the lead with a 1:48.66 opening leg. Each of his teammates ran faster afterward: Nixon in 1:48.52, Roomes in 1:47.88 and Lagat in 1:47.51.
"This means everything," Roomes said afterward. "This whole thing was special."
Drake's Fogg runs second in record-breaking men's 1,500
The university men's 4x800 was one of two races that saw longstanding Drake Relays records go down. The other came just two races later, in the university men's 1,500-meter run.
The old Drake Relays record was 3:41.74, set by Iowa State’s John Nuttall in 1990. On Friday, four runners beat that time.
Drake sophomore Adam Fogg, an Australian native, finished second in the race in 3:38.79, which is also a new Drake program record, shattering a 40-year-old record. Furman's Ryan Adams won the race in 3:38.74. Air Force's Sam Gilman (3:40.39) and Texas Tech's Takieddine Hedeilli (3:41.60) also broke the mark.
All four came just shy of the all-time Drake Relays mark, which is 3:38.27, set by professional Steve Scott in 1984.
Cyclones win men’s sprint medley
The Iowa State team of Gage Clay, Joven Nelson, Eric Fogltanz and Roshon Roomes won the university men's sprint medley relay Friday afternoon. They finished in 3:22.06, beating out second-place North Dakota State by more than a full second (3:23.20).
The Cyclones ran the first two legs in fifth, but Fogltanz seized the lead on the third leg. He and Roomes paced the race the rest of the way. Fogltanz clocked a 46.71-second 400-meter leg, and Roomes ran the final two laps in 1:51.43.
Indiana State finished third in 3:26.87. Northern Iowa, running Eli Hicks, Tayshaun Cooper, Sven Van Den Bergh and Wal Khat, took fourth in 3:27.72.
Northern Iowa women win 4x200
The Northern Iowa foursome of Rylan Santi, Allison Hilleman, Emily Vos and Emily Paul won the university women's 4x200-meter relay, running a time of 1:39.20. They defeated Eastern Illinois (1:40.00), Bradley (1:40.31) and South Dakota State (1:44.07).
All four of the Panthers' sprinters in the race never won at the Drake Relays while in high school. Each are Iowa natives — Santi from Madrid, Hilleman from West Marshall, Vos from Pella and Paul from Pleasant Valley.
On Friday, they started second until Vos, who finished fourth individually in the university women's 200-meter dash, took the baton and gave Northern Iowa a lead it would not relinquish. Paul then ran the anchor leg to ensure all four received their first-ever Drake Relays flags.
ISU, UNI go 2-3 in women's sprint medley
Iowa State and Northern Iowa finished second and third, respectively, behind North Dakota State in the university women's sprint medley. The Bison won with a time of 3:55.87. The Cyclones followed in 3:57.13, then the Panthers at 3:59.85.
The Iowa State foursome of Kaylyn Hall, Erika Furbeck, Zakiyah Amos and Maggie Davis managed the lead all the way until the race's final leg, when North Dakota State's Katie Bye surged past Davis to win.
The Panthers' quad of Libby Wedewer, Taylor Raines, Jill Bennett and Sophia Jungling sat either second or third the entire race. Missouri, anchored by Dowling grad Kelsey Schweizer, finished fourth in 4:02.20.
UNI's King goes 4th in throw events
Northern Iowa's Darius King brought home a pair of top-four finishes in the two university men's throwing events, taking fourth in both the shot put and discus on Friday.
King, a junior, holds the second-best shot put throw in Division I this season, at 20.14 meters. He is one of just two throws to surpass 20 meters in the shot put so far this season, joining Arizona State's Turner Washington, who's posted a long throw for 21.07.
On Friday, King hit 18.99 meters in the shot, finishing behind a trio of North Dakota State throws. Kristoffer Thomsen took first with a long throw of 19.54. Alex Talley and Maxwell Otterdahl finished second and third with throws of 19.29 and 19.19, respectively.
In the discus, King took home fourth place again with a long throw of 53.70 meters. He finished behind Missouri's Mitchell Weber (60.91), Iowa State's Kevin Sakson (55.23) and Air Force's Hayden Bullock (55.10).
Drake's Asinga takes second in women's 400 hurdles
Drake sophomore Busiwa Asinga finished second in the university women's 400-meter hurdles event. She ran a 1:01.04 out of the first heat, finishing behind only Missouri's Morgan O'Neal, who clocked a 1:00.40 from the final heat.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.