Zeiser, Van Roekel lead area athletes at Drake
|CMB senior Josh Zeiser jumps over the final hurdle during the high school boys 110-meter hurdles event Friday morning at the Drake Relays. Zeiser placed fourth with a time of 16.63 seconds. (Shane Lucas/Daily News)|
DES MOINES — Collins-Maxwell-Baxter senior Josh Zeiser has turned in one top performance after another this track season, and at the Drake Relays he got to show what he was made of against the top competition in the state.
Despite being one of the few non-Class 4A competitors in each event, Zeiser took fourth place in the 110-meter hurdles and seventh in the long jump to represent Jasper County and Class 2A against stacked competition in Des Moines on Thursday and Friday.
“Taking seventh in the long jump and fourth in the high hurdles was awesome,” Zeiser said. “It’s definitely more than I could’ve ever imagined.”
Zeiser was the first competitor from the county to compete at Drake Stadium, as he completed the long jump event on Thursday afternoon. His fourth jump of 21 feet, 3.5 inches was good enough to place him seventh overall in the field of 24 competitors.
During the 110 hurdle finals on Saturday, Zeiser was able to recover from a minor hiccup during the prelims. The outcome of that recovery was a time of 14.63 seconds and a fourth-place finish behind three Class 4A competitors.
“In the prelims I didn’t have a really good race and had some trouble with the first hurdle, but I was able to come back and got some confidence going into the finals,” Zeiser said. “I knew that if I could get past that first hurdle, I could run with the field.”
Another factor possibly aiding Zeiser in his performances was the lack of nerves that he suffered from at the event in 2011. A year of experience later, a more cool and collected Zeiser was able to enjoy the experience as a whole, especially since it was his last chance to do it in a CMB uniform.
“Coming in this year I knew what was in front of me and I knew what I had to do in terms of competition,” Zeiser said. “I was definitely a lot more confident this year and didn’t come out timid and nervous. I made it through the prelims, so I was happy with that, and then getting fourth in the finals was definitely awesome.”
Van Roekel takes fifth in loaded 400 hurdles event
As the defending Class 2A state champion in the 400 hurdles, PCM senior Jordan Van Roekel felt a little burned by the fact that he was seeded eighth in the event at the Drake Relays. When all was said and done, he made sure to change that ranking.
Van Roekel finished with a time of 54.35 seconds, which placed him sixth in time and eventually fifth overall after one of his fellow competitors was disqualified.
“I just wanted to start quick and start faster than I usually do,” Van Roekel said. “If I died, I died and if I didn’t, I didn’t. I was supposed to get last place, so it couldn’t have been any worse.”
Running in lane 8, Van Roekel led the pack for about half of the race. However, it was around the backstretch that Fort Madison’s Raheem Brock made his move. The junior then gained a huge lead down the last straightaway and finished the race with a time of 52.45, which placed him ninth on the all-time Drake Relays list for the event.
“That kid ran a heck of a race, he kicked it in the last 100 meters. He was hauling,” Van Roekel said. “But overall, I’m honored to be here with these guys in a really fun event. They only take eight guys, and they’re all fast.”
Although Van Roekel was no stranger to Drake Stadium because of his appearances at state, it was his first time competing at the Drake Relays. In his first and only time competing, he was able to share the experience with his fellow teammates on the 4x100 relay team, and will now turn his attention to returning to Des Moines for state this season.
“It’s a great time, even when you’re not at the Relays and just going out to eat with your teammates,” Van Roekel said. “We went to Jethro’s and had a great time there, so it’s just a blast. People love this event for a reason.”
Mustangs, Hawks run in 4x100
Before Van Roekel ran on Saturday, he also did on Friday evening as part of the PCM’s 4x100 relay team. The Mustangs all-senior squad of Sean O’Connor, Andrew McCarthy, Hutch Burns and Jordan Van Roekel entered the event with the state’s 29th-best qualifying time of 44.23 seconds, set just a day earlier at the Mustang Invitational in Monroe.
PCM wasn’t quite as fast at the Drake Relays, having a time of 44.52 seconds that placed them 40th out of 80 teams.
It was the first time competing in Drake Stadium for the three seniors besides Van Roekel.
“It’s awesome. It’s real nerve-racking before. But once you get down here and run it, it’s over just like that. It’s all over in about a minute,” Burns said about the experience. “It was real fun. It was a privilege to run here. We probably wanted to do a little bit better. We kinda had a couple bad handoffs, but we’ll keep improving. Once we get back here (for state), we won’t have as many nerves and will be a lot more relaxed.”
Lynnville-Sully also competed in the 4x100, and in doing so, became the first Hawks’ representatives at the Drake Relays since Jaron Van Maanan won his second-straight jigh jump title in 2004.
The Hawks underclassmen foursome of sophomore Caden Doll, sophomore Bailee Samson, junior Malin Meyer and sophomore Meliek Meyer entered the event with the 71st-best qualifying time of 44.95 seconds, which meant it had to wait until the ninth of 10 heats to run.
The squad was a little slower at Drake, finishing in 45.48 seconds. However, it was good enough to improve on its seeded position, as the Hawks placed 63rd out of 80 teams.
“I talked to them after it was done, and they were really excited to have run on there,” first-year L-S coach Mike Parkinson said. “It was a really good experience for the boys being able to run against great competition. I think things went pretty well for them.”
Friday was just the fourth time that foursome had run together.
“They’re still getting the hang of it, so I’m pretty patient with them,” Parkinson said.
The Hawks have a bounty of state-qualifying caliber athletes on their roster this season, and the 4x100 team is just one event that they’ll likely be bringing back to Drake in May. Samson and the Meyers are also on the 4x200 team that has the 15th-best time in Class 1A this season (24 teams or individuals in each event compete at state), Meliek and Malin Meyer are currently third and 24th in the 100, Samson is 10th in the 200 and Doll is 25th in the 110 hurdles.
“It left them hungry to get back,” Parkinson said.
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