Running on a stage like the Drake Relays is already regarded as more difficult than an average meet. But add in some rain and near freezing temperatures, and it’s even harder.
Those were the conditions the Cyclones had to face during the third day of the relays Friday in Des Moines.
The first event of the day was the men’s 110-meter hurdles, featuring the Cyclones' Elijah Young. Despite being only a preliminary race, Young knew he had to run a fast time to get into the final on Saturday.
“I keep hanging my trail, something I’ve been working on this season to improve,” Young said. “I know what I did wrong and how to correct it, it’s just a process.”
He ended up running a time of 14.68 seconds, good enough for 20th place in the hurdle event. Despite the conditions Young had to compete in, he didn’t blame them for his under performance.
A break in the action for the Cyclones on the track brought attention to Trey Achterhoff, competing in the javelin throw.
His most recent competition was at the Musco Twilight meet in Iowa City, where he threw a distance of 163 fee,t 9 inches. Despite the unfavorable conditions, Achterhoff managed to throw for 185-10, advancing him to the final. It ended up being the fifth-best throw in the competition.
“Some of the competition scratched due to the weather conditions,” Achterhoff said. “I knew I had to get a solid throw in before getting too cold.”
Coming into the relays, he had been dealing with a groin injury, which affected him in previous weeks’ competition.
He decided to stop his competition short to preserve himself from aggravating his groin further and sustaining the rain and cold.
Achterhoff is an Iowan native, so competing in the relays was even more special to him. In addition, he had the support of some friends and family who traveled down to watch him compete.
“The Drake Relays are always special for someone from Iowa,” Achterhoff said. “There’s a lot of good memories here from competing in the relays and state, and to see my parents here makes it even better.”
The next event for the men’s team was a preliminary 4x100-meter relay composed of Orien Salters, Ben Kelly, Jomal Wiltz and Trevor Ryen. This was the first competition on the relay for the four.
The Cyclones were on pace to run a qualifying time, until a botched final baton hand-off down the stretch. By then, the men had lost precious seconds and finished in ninth place..
“We definitely left a lot on the track, got a lot to work on,” Kelly said.
“More practice handing off, we’ve all got different schedules outside of track to practice for these relays,” Ryen said.
Ryen and Wiltz are also on the football roster as well as Kelly being preoccupied with his leg in the 4x400 and 4x800-meter relays.
The four men finished with a time of 42.64 seconds, still managing to advance to the finals on Saturday after Illinois was announced as disqualified. But late Friday night it was announced that Illinois had protested their disqualification, and won. Therefore, Iowa State's 4x100-meter relay team will not get the chance to compete in the final Saturday.
Before the final race of the day, the Cyclone men also competed in the 4x400-meter relay preliminaries. The four men who made up the team were Ryen, Kelly, Young and Will Seeser.
For much of the indoor season, this relay was regarded as the best event on the team with Roshon Roomes and Jaymes Dennison. Ryen and Kelly had already competed earlier in the day in the 100-meter relay, while Young competed in the morning session in the 110-meter hurdles.
“I definitely didn’t run as well as I wanted to,” Kelly said. “I just gave it all I had, and that’s all I could ask for.”
Ryen and Kelly kept the Cyclones in the middle of the pack, but they began to fall behind steadily after the third hand-off. Seeser crossed the finish line at 3:16.83, taking 11th place. That time wasn’t quick enough to qualify them for the 400-meter relay finals on Saturday.
Coming into this week, assistant coach Jeremy Sudbury mentioned that the 4x800-meter relay team would be one of their top events. The coaches made that even more clear by holding off running any of the four in Dan Curts, Zach Black, Dennison and Roomes until Friday night.
The Cyclones stayed in contention the whole race, with Roomes moving them from third to second during his third leg of the race. The primary contender on the heels of the Cyclones were the Hawkeyes, who brought the CyHawk battle on the track.
As both teams’ athletes came down the stretch, the crowd cheered on their respective school — Iowa State and Iowa standing out the most.
“The [Hawks] have a really good intermediate program and they come to play at the relays,” Curts said. “They came out on top today but we’ll see them again next year.”
All four of the Cyclones who competed had yet to run in an event leading up to the 800-meter relay.
“It was a little nerve wracking at first,” Black said. “Once we got out there and warmed up we were fine.”
The four combined for a time of 7:25.86, marking them down as the fifth fastest 800-meter relay team in Iowa State history.