DES MOINES — Former Cedar Rapids Kennedy track and field athlete Derek Jacobus made his return to the Drake Relays competing unattached for Arkansas.
It was a ceremonious return for Jacobus. He won the decathlon with a score of 7,198 points.
He had some help along the way. Jacobus was in second almost the entire day at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, but the leader, Kurtis Brondyke, hurt his groin and was unable to compete in the 1,500-meter run. Brondyke had a score of 7,097 before the last event, leading the field by more than 500 points.
Jacobus took advantage of Brondyke’s injury, winning his first Drake Relays flag.
“He was going to get a really good score, but all I had to do was run the race because he didn’t run,” Jacobus said. “All the credit goes to him, he had a great meet going. Injuries are a part of the game. It’s not how I envisioned winning my first Drake Relays gold, but I’ll take it.””
Jacobus didn’t win an individual event in the decathlon, but he did finish second in in four events and never finished lower than sixth in the 14-person field. He also set a personal record in the shot put with a throw of 42 feet, 6 1/4 inches.
“Whenever you can walk away with a PR in any event is a good thing to come home with,” Jacobus said.
He competed unattached at the Relays because he’s taking a redshirt year. He made the decision because the Decathlon is a hard event to compete in due to the fact athletes have to learn, and excel in 10 different disciplines.
The newest discipline for Jacobus is pole vault. Iowa doesn’t have high school pole vaulting, so he’s had to learn that event from scratch.
But he has a secret weapon on his side.
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His wife, Alexis Jacobus, competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics as a pole vaulter while she was a freshman at Arkansas, where she won two NCAA titles as a freshman in pole vaulting.
“She’s been pole vaulting her entire life,” Jacobus said. “When I went down to (Arkansas) I wasn’t jumping near what she was jumping. Last year, I ended up tying her personal record.
“Everyone was giving me crap because I couldn’t jump as high as my wife, but we’re tied now so they don’t have that on me anymore,” Jacobus said with a laugh.
Alexis’ PR is 15-5. At the Relays, Jacobus’ best jump was 14-5¼, good enough for third.
The husband and wife duo keep each other in check. They make sure the other is dieting correctly, stretching, doing ab workouts — a lot of little things Jacobus said.
“Now that we’re living together, you can’t get away with anything,” Jacobus said. “We really push each other. We try to make each other the best that we can be.”
Alexis was in Arkansas competing, but Derek hopes to get Alexis up for the Relays post-graduation.
“I’m definitely going to push her to do the (Drake Relays pole vault at Capital Square) just to compete here because I think she’d have a great time out here,” Jacobus said. “The fans always come out and support, especially on a Friday night and at Capital Square.”
Jacobus enjoyed his time back in Iowa.
“Being back out on the ‘Blue Oval,’ whether it’s state or the Drake Relays, it’s just fun,” he said. “They always put on a good show, fast times. It’s a great all-around experience. I look forward to coming back.”
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Iowa native Karissa Schweizer also proved herself to be a world-class athlete. The Missouri distance runner and West Des Moines Dowling grad set a new Drake Relays record in the 5K, running 15:23.21 — the previous record was 15:31.18, set in 1985 by Cathy Branta-Easker.
Schweizer’s time is the best in the nation.
Iowa’s Madison Waymire was 10th in 17:05.59
Daniel Murphy of Iowa competed in the 10K and finished in 31:56.99.
Iowa State only had three athletes compete on Thursday. The best finish came from Abby Caldwell in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase. Her time was 11:03.22.
UNI’s Brooke Lorenz placed second in the women’s heptathlon with 4,857 points. The winner, Rose Jackson, had 5,537 points.
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