Prep Track and Field

Drake Relays: Now, it's the Cedar Rapids Jefferson boys that are super speedy

J-Hawks are top-seeded in the 400- and 800-meter relays

Cedar Rapids Jefferson sprinters (from left): Braxton Bolden, Ezeki Leggins, James Baugh, Mitch Hall and Josue Bokoyo practice handoffs on the track at Kingston Stadium on Monday. Jefferson is top-ranked statewide in the 400- and 800-meter relays. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson sprinters (from left): Braxton Bolden, Ezeki Leggins, James Baugh, Mitch Hall and Josue Bokoyo practice handoffs on the track at Kingston Stadium on Monday. Jefferson is top-ranked statewide in the 400- and 800-meter relays. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The self-proclaimed Cheetah Girls have graduated, their accomplishments easily located in record books and trophy cases at Jefferson High School.

Bill Calloway has moved on, too. But he hasn’t gone far.

The former Jefferson head girls’ track and field coach, Calloway is now an assistant for the boys’ team. Not surprisingly, the J-Hawks’ sprint relays have picked up steam.

“Calloway definitely pushes the handoffs, and it shows,” senior Braxton Bolden said. “When the other teams were having indoor practices, he was out shoveling snow so we could run outside.”

Jefferson enters the Drake Relays as the top-seeded unit in the 400-meter relay (42.31 seconds) and the 800-meter relay (1:28.81).

It wasn’t so long ago that Jefferson speedsters like Lucy Schneekloth, Jasmine Blue and Abbie Ranschau were winning races and setting records at Drake Stadium.

“They were so good, so fast,” Bolden said. “We wanted to do that someday.”

Their opportunity has arrived.

The J-Hawks’ quest begins Friday; the 800-meter relay is scheduled for 1:55 p.m. Then it’s the 400-meter relay prelims at 6:29 Friday night, and (probably) the 400 relay final at 3:36 p.m. Saturday.

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Bolden will race in both relays, as will fellow seniors James Baugh and Josue Bokoyo. Another senior, Mitchell Hall, will anchor the 400 relay, and sophomore Ezeki Leggins will run in the 800 relay.

There are no weak links in this crew — Calloway said all are 11.3-second 100-meter guys — but Baugh and Bokoyo are probably the fastest.

They’ll be the first two runners in a 4-by-100.

“We want to hammer that early,” Calloway said. “(Baugh) is such a monster on the curve.”

Baugh transferred from Cedar Rapids Washington after his sophomore season. Due to the state’s transfer rule, he could not compete at the varsity level for the J-Hawks last year.

“Running JV last year was tough; there wasn’t much competition for me,” Baugh said. “But I really like it here. I’m glad I can be here to help the team.”

Bokoyo’s journey came longer ago, and from further away. His family moved to Cedar Rapids from the Congo in Africa when Josue was in sixth grade.

“I didn’t know much English but I learned it quickly,” Bokoyo said.

Jefferson’s primary competition, according to Quik Stats, appears to be Ankeny Centennial (which stands 0.28 seconds back) in the 400 relay, and Sergeant Bluff-Luton (0.48 seconds behind) in the 800 relay.

“We want to go do our thing and win,” Hall said. “It’s a just a lot of little things, little details and that add up.”

And if those little things go right, the Drake 4x100 record of 42.17 is within reach.

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“It’s possible, if we make the passes,” Calloway said. “The weather looks good. But we have to run faster than we have if we’re going to win it.”

Calloway coached Jefferson’s girls from 1987 through 2017. He stepped down in May, then was hired as an assistant to boys’ coach Chris Buesing in September.

“It hasn’t been a huge change,” said Calloway, who coached the Cedar Rapids Washington boys to a state title in 1977. “Working with Coach Buesing has been really, really good. It’s fun for me just to coach.”

Drake Relays High School Schedule

Thursday

4 p.m. — Boys’ discus

4:30 p.m. — Girls’ high jump

4:30 p.m. — Girls’ shot put

5 p.m. — Boys’ long jump

5:25 p.m. — Boys’ 3,200

5:40 p.m. — Girls’ 3,000

Friday

8 a.m. — Girls’ 100 hurdles (prelims)

8:15 a.m. — Boys’ 110 hurdles (prelims)

8:30 a.m. — Boys’ shot put

8:30 a.m. — Girls’ 100 (prelims)

8:40 a.m. — Boys’ 100 (prelims)

9 a.m. — Girls’ discus

9:30 a.m. — Girls’ long jump

9:45 a.m. — Boys’ high jump

9:49 a.m. — Girls’ sprint medley relay

10:02 a.m. — Boys’ distance medley relay

10:29 a.m. — Girls’ 100 hurdles (final)

10:34 a.m. — Boys’ 110 hurdles (final)

1:43 p.m. — Girls’ 800 relay

1:55 p.m. — Boys’ 800 relay

2:07 p.m. — Girls’ 800

2:13 p.m. — Boys’ 800

2:24 p.m. — Girls’ 100 (final)

2:29 p.m. — Boys’ 100 (final)

5:33 p.m. — Girls’ 400 relay (prelims)

6:29 p.m. — Boys’ 400 relay (prelims)

8:35 p.m. — Girls’ 1,600 relay (prelims)

8:54 p.m. — Boys’ 1,600 relay (prelims)

Saturday

8:30 a.m. — Girls’ shuttle hurdle relay (prelims)

8:45 a.m. — Boys’ shuttle hurdle relay (prelims)

9:58 a.m. — Girls’ 3,200 relay

10:13 a.m. — Boys’ 3,200 relay

11:30 a.m. — Girls’ shuttle hurdle relay (final)

11:35 a.m. — Boys’ shuttle hurdle relay (final)

12:45 p.m. — Girls’ 400 hurdles

12:52 p.m. — Boys’ 400 hurdles

3:31 p.m. — Girls’ 400 relay (final)

3:36 p.m. — Boys’ 400 relay (final)

4 p.m. — Girls’ 1,500

4:07 p.m. — Boys’ 1,600

4:25 p.m. — Girls’ 1,600 relay (final)

4:32 p.m. — Boys’ 1,600 relay (final)

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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