DRAKE RELAYS: Vaulting with Vawter

DES MOINES – Technique and rhythm and can make all the difference when you compete in the long jump.

BCLUW junior Mallory Vawter found that out first hand Friday during her performance at the 105th Drake Relays.

“My feet were wrong in the preliminaries. I started with my right foot instead of my left so my steps were off,” said Vawter. “During finals I fixed it and that helped.”

That’s an understatement.

Vawter recovered from a few jumps that were “off” in the preliminaries and recorded her personal-best leap in the finals and that mark was good enough to lock up third place overall.

Vawter’s best jump was marked at 17-7 1/2, which came on her first jump in the finals. No other jump on the day eclipsed the 16-11 3/4 she finished with but all three of her marks in the finals were better than any of her jumps during the preliminary round.

“After I found out I was third, I was really, really excited,” said Vawter, who was making her first appearance at the annual event. “A lot of people were jumping really well in the preliminaries and then I got to the finals and I just thought, ‘wow, I am going against girls who are jumping 18 and 19 feet.’ I didn’t think it was going to go well.

“I am pretty happy with that distance. I didn’t think I would do that well because my preliminary jumps were off.”

Vawter was OK with being wrong. But her effort in the long jump was only part of a big day around the blue oval Friday.

The Comet junior also kicked off the day with performance in the 100-meter hurdles. She entered the event with the third best time, qualified for the finals in fourth and finished sixth after clipping three or four hurdles along the way.

“I need to be cleaner in the hurdles,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity and I am blessed to be able to do this. I was happy, but I also think things could have been better. I did the best that I could though.”

Vawter ran with a few teammates later in the day as the BCLUW 4×100-meter relay squad took to the famous track for a chance at today’s finals.

Eighty relay teams qualify for the Drake Relays and the Comets ended up seventh in heat nine and 74th overall as the foursome of seniors Kendall Scurr and Nicolette Simpson, sophomore Jorie Oaks and Vawter finished in a personal-best time of 52.85. The top qualifying time was recorded by Davenport Assumption and it crossed the line in 48.55. Cedar Rapids Jefferson was second at 48.89 and the third-best qualifier was Des Moines Roosevelt at 48.96.

“It was pretty amazing. It was awesome,” said Scurr. “We got to watch Mallory do well. We are all really proud of her and what she has done here. It was a good day and a good experience.”

It was the first Drake Relays for all four BCLUW runners. But all four had run at the blue oval in last year’s state meet.

“The atmosphere is really fun,” said Simpson. “There are so many other athletes here performing so it feels extra special to be here and you feel privileged. It was really fun.”

Vawter ran a 15.21 to qualify fourth for the 100 hurdle finals. In the championship heat, Vawter connected with a few hurdles and that may have slowed her down as she crossed the line in 15.41.

Urbandale’s Mary Young ran a Drake Relays record 14.3 to win the title. Madison Ranschau of Cedar Rapids Jefferson ended up second with a time of 15.01 and Kelsi Phipps of Mount Pleasant rounded out the top three with a time of 15.06.

Vawter entered the weekend with the best time in Class 1A and that held true Friday.

“I get told here and there,” said Vawter about where she stacks up against other 1A competition. “I don’t like to know so I don’t feel pressure on myself. I just like to do what I do.”

Notebook

Des Moines Roosevelt’s Jalynn Roberts-Lewis won a third straight long jump title Friday and became the seventh Iowan to leap 19 feet when she hit 19-0 on her fifth attempt. Oaks also enjoyed her first experience at the Drake Relays. “It was a really good experience. There is a lot competition here,” said Oaks. “It was fun watching Mallory during the day and all the college races. That got me pumped up for our relay race.” Vawter’s best mark in the long jump prior to Friday was 17-3 3/4. She currently has the second-best mark in 1A. Dani Reicherts of Dunkerton is the only 1A jumper who has a better mark than Vawter in the long jump. Reicharts ended up eighth Friday and her best toss was 16-10 1/2.