116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — “Mike’s back.”
The buoyant declaration came from Loras anchor Mike Jasa’s relay partners.
It was shouted before the four fast friends emerged for interviews after surging to a white-flag framed triumph in Friday’s College Division 3,200-meter relay final at the Drake Relays — and what it signified connected the past to both the present and the future.
Four years ago, Jasa helped Cedar Rapids Prairie win a pair of relay events at Drake Stadium, and late Friday morning, as his teammates intoned, he was definitely “back.”
“These guys are all my best friends,” Jasa said of Carter Oberfoell, Ryan Harvey and Wyatt Kelly, who helped the Duhawks win the event for the first time in Drake Relays history. “They’ll be in my wedding in a couple months.”
Jasa and his fiancée, Beth Uthoff, have set the date. It’s August 20. And Oberfoell, Harvey and Kelly will be standing up behind him. Friday, they were clapping and cheering Jasa on as he finished the race in 7:28.33 — the fastest time in the event since Oklahoma Baptist clocked in three-hundredths of a second quicker in 1985.
“This team has some of the best four guys in the conference, let alone the nation,” Jasa said. “It means a lot to me because I did this four years ago in high school. So to do it again four years later is super cool.”
Jasa said he and his teammates have finally shaken off some nagging injuries, so Friday’s win should serve as a launching pad for the final stretch of the outdoor season.
“We have a chip on our shoulder, coming out there with all these big schools who don’t know who we are, let alone run against people who might be tapering or toward the end of their season,” Jasa said. “We’re just trying to get started toward the postseason.”
Speaking of launches, Iowa’s James Carter propelled his body to an “all conditions” personal best long jump of 25 feet, 8 3/4 inches to win the event.
The All-American did it in his first jump, too.
“I knew after the jump that it was going to be far,” said Carter, who will also compete in the triple jump in Saturday. “I didn’t necessarily know it was going to be my best, but I was pretty confident it was a good jump.”
Iowa State’s Chad Johnson provided his 6,400-meter relay team with a good kick to help the Cyclones win the event at the Relays for the first time since 1993. ISU won six of seven 4x1,600 Relays titles between 1987 and 1993, so a return to the top of the podium was both savored and a long time coming.
“We knew we had a lot of success in the 80s and 90s,” said Johnson, who ran the second leg. “So we kind of want to to start bringing that back.”
The Cyclones’ Emily March brought her program its first Relays win in the women’s discus by throwing 189 feet, 11 inches.
“It’s really exciting, especially coming from last year, not being very consistent,” said March, a native Californian and former junior college transfer. “I’m more excited about the consistency than winning.”
Isaiah Trousil of Northern Iowa churned up winning speed Friday night at the Relays, sprinting to victory in the 200 meters in a time of 20.76 seconds.
“It’s always great to be back at the Drake Relays,” said the senior, who also played football for the Panthers. “I don’t have too much to say. I just love being a competitor.”
So does Iowa State’s 3,200-meter men’s relay team — no matter who’s in the lineup from year to year. Just one Cyclone, Jason Gomez, remained from last year’s Drake Relays-winning foursome, but that didn’t stop ISU from waving little white victory flags for the fourth straight year.
“What this team’s been able to do and the longevity it’s had, you know, we’ve had many different hands hold the baton during these 4x8s,” Gomez said. “It just speaks to the middle distance program at Iowa State.”
The Cyclones’ streak of four consecutive wins in the event is rare. Kansas is the last team to win at least that many in a row. The Jayhawks strung together five straight 4x800 wins at the Relays from 1958 to 1962.
Next year, ISU’s four-man middle distance team of Gomez, Cebastian Gentil, Peter Smith and Darius Kipyego looks to match that feat.
“All of us are coming back,” said Gentil, who ran on the 2019 Relays-winning team but has battled injures the past two seasons. “At the beginning of the year it’s a legacy we always talk about. I was talking with coach (Jeremy) Sudbury and we didn’t realize that we’d won three in a row. So we’re like, ‘Let’s make it four.’ And next year we’re gonna sit down at the beginning of the season (and say), ‘Let’s make it five.’”