DRAKE RELAYS: Making strides

DES MOINES – Imad Amenzou listened to his coaches. And he made some adjustments during the 1,600-meter run at the 105th Drake Relays.

Amenzou got out way too fast in Thursday’s 3,200 but may have went a little too slow Saturday during the mile. But even though he may have overcompensated his efforts to find a better pace, the Bobcat senior still found himself three positions higher when it was all said and done.

“He tried to adjust, but it’s going to be a learning process with him,” said Marshalltown coach Mark Chardoulias. “He had a lot more energy at the end this time around. He was willing to listen to the coaches, but he may have waited a little too long to get going this time.”

Amenzou wound up 11th overall with a time of 4 minutes, 24.96 seconds. He stayed almost exclusively in the rear of the race for the first two laps and then picked off his competitors one by one in the final 800 meters.

By the third lap, Amenzou was into seventh but then fell off the pace again before the final 400. He began another comeback with 200 meters to go but it wasn’t enough to move up into the top 10.

“I felt a lot better about this one,” said Amenzou. “It was a lot better than Thursday. My mind wanted to go but my muscles didn’t want to go today. I changed my pace at the end, but those guys in front are really fast. I couldn’t catch all of them.”

The fastest guy up front was Linn-Mar’s Josh Evans, who bested his own Drake Relays record with a 4:10.76. It was the second-fastest time ever run by an Iowan.

Gilbert’s Thomas Pollard (4:13.19) clipped Boone’s Albert Meier (4:13.30) at the line for second. Meier won the 3,200 on Thursday and became the first Iowa high school athlete to eclipse the 9-minute mark in the race.

“Those guys in the front have been running a lot longer than Imad has,” said Chardoulias. “He just needs more experience. Imad is an unknown commodity and will just continue to get better.”

The next step for Amenzou, who will run at North Iowa Area Community College, is figuring out how to finish races. And one thing he wants to work on in the near future is speed training.

“We needed to adjust and go a little faster sooner,” said Chardoulias. “He could have gone faster for sure. But when we talked after the race he told us he wanted to do more speed work. That made it easier for us because we agreed with him.”

Meier’s teammate Chandler Austin finished in fourth with a time of 4:17.65, while Ryan Schweizer of Dowling Catholic rounded out the top five with a 4:17.98.

“It was fun,” said Amenzou of his experience at the Relays. “I was close today. I am happy with the way I ran.”

The top two finishers from the district automatically qualify for the state meet. But the next best 12 times also advance.

Amenzou ran against three other runners – Evans, Cedar Falls’ Dylan Southall and Linn-Mar’s Daniel Murphy – who could meet him again at districts and finished third in that group. Amenzou bested Murphy by a little more than 7 seconds and trailed Southall by 1.6 seconds.

The Bobcat senior came into the weekend with the ninth-best time in Class 4A but was sixth among all 4A runners in the 21-person field Saturday.