CEDAR RAPIDS — “Amazing” and “excited.”
These were the emotions Xavier senior Nathan Skala and junior Aubrey Jones felt after qualifying for the Drake Relays.
Skala ran in the 800-meter as a member of the 400 relay with seniors Christian Klein, Aaron Larson and junior Kaiden Cuevas.
“I (was) very excited to run at the relays,” said Skala, who finished sixth with a time of 1:57.72. “My senior year, but my first time at the relays, I am just going to try and soak it in and then not make the moment bigger than it is when I run.”
Skala knew he needed to keep himself ready before he raced, and his coaches were a big part in helping him prepare for Drake.
“My coaches have really helped me this year in putting me in an action individual event so I could see what I can do and make the most out of my opportunity,” Skala said. “We also had good workouts back in February and March to get us ready for the start of the season.”
Head Coach Russ Camacho knows Skala, a team captain, is someone who leads by example.
“He has done everything you could possibly ask of him. Every little thing you could do to make yourself better, he has done,” Camacho said. “He is by far one of the hardest working, if not, the hardest worker on the team.
“Being a captain, he is the person that not only talks the talks, but walks the walk, so he leads by example.”
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Jones ran the 100 hurdles, clocking in with a 16.25-second finish in the prelims. She did not make the finals. She also ran in the 400 meter relay with juniors Julia Shoger and Brianna Yanga and freshman Jordan Jansen.
“I am super excited and shocked,” Jones said before the meet. “I did not even think I was going to have the chance to qualify since I had been out resting a heel injury. It is such an amazing opportunity to run at the Drake Relays.”
Since Jones qualified, she knew she would have to work more on hurdles instead of running, but she knew she could do it with the help of her hurdle coach, Korey Johnson.
“Coach Johnson is so amazing,” Jones said. “Not only is he a great coach for learning and improving my hurdling skills, but he is also a great head strength coach, which is definitely a big part in being able to do the hurdles. I definitely would not be where I am without his inspirational emails or his great podcasts.”
Johnson knows Jones put in the effort to make it to Drake Relays through her hard work in the offseason.
“Aubrey is part of a group that put in time in the summer to work on her hurdle technique,” Johnson said. “She, among others on the team, have set goals for themselves in more than one sport and they continue to push themselves to reach those goals. Drake is just one of those goals.”