Linn-Mar's Evans Sets Record At Drake Relays

By Jeff Linder and Scott Saville, Reporters

DES MOINES, Iowa — He signed an autograph during his victory lap. He answered questions in an interview room generally designated only for the big shots here.

Still, Josh Evans insisted, "I'm not that big of a deal."

Think again, young man.

Evans set a Drake Relays record and an all-time Iowa best in the boys' 1,600-meter run Saturday at Drake Stadium, running it in 4 minutes, 10.86 seconds.

Yeah, that's a big deal.

The old record — 4:11.57, by Pekin's Steve Greiner — had stood since 1979. Evans eclipsed it by closing strong, running 2:04 in the final 800, 60 in the final 400.

"I knew I had a shot at it," Evans said. "I'm in the best shape of my life. I really wanted to hammer the third lap. That last lap, I was just praying and driving my legs."

Evans came into the event ranked No. 2 this season, behind West Des Moines Dowling's Jason Thomas (Drake officials prematurely had Thomas inked as a press-conference participant early in the day). Now's he's No. 1 all-time.

"I wanted that (championship) flag," said Evans, who earned his first one by anchoring Linn-Mar's medley relay to victory Friday. "I was going to leave it all out there."

Saturday's boys relays produced both glory and excruciatingly close calls for area teams.

Cedar Rapids Prairie broke out its new checkerboard uniforms this weekend, and its 1,600-meter relay earned the proverbial checkered flag. Demetrius Harper brought the Hawks from behind down the home stretch to win it in 3:21.52.

"(Friday night, in the preliminaries), I took off too early," Harper said. "It came down to the last 100 today, and there was a guy in front of me, and I had to take it."

Tristan Beyer, Lucas Howes and Jarred Edmonds ran the first three legs.

Last year, Beyer was sidelined with a hamstring injury and watched as his teammates won the title. This year, he was an active member.

"I was miserable that I couldn't run," Beyer said. "I love to compete, and I love being with these guys."

The Hawks won at Drake in 2012, but settled for second at state.

Harper said, "We're going to come back here (at state) with the same chip on our shoulder that we had today."

Iowa City West edged Monticello for the 3,200-meter relay crown.

The Trojans were clocked in 7:48.99; the Panthers in 7:49.41. Each leg for both teams ran sub-1:59, highlighted by West leadoff man Bailey Wetherell at 1:55.4.

"We didn't want to just do two laps apiece," Wetherell said. We wanted to do a third lap (a victory lap) together."

Wetherell, a senior, was followed by juniors Cole Hatzky, Daniel Gardarsson and Kaleb Greiner.

"I looked on the Megatron (on the backstretch) and saw they were definitely right there with me. So I thought of our 'cones' workout, where we try to build speed every 50 meters, trying to find a different gear," Greiner said.

Monticello is a Class 2A school and beat all the big-school teams except one.

"It was totally different. We're used to running all by ourselves," said Monticello anchor Dallas Lumpa. "It was definitely fun. We thought we could stay with them until the end.

"We gave it everything we could. I knew my teammates wanted it as badly as I did."

While Prairie and West struck gold in relays, Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Linn-Mar came close. Tantalizingly close.

In the shuttle hurdle relay, Waukee edged Cedar Rapids Kennedy by 1-hundredth of a second — 57.35 to 57.36.

Kennedy anchor Famiek Cook came from way back — about 15 meters — but came a whisker short.

"I tried to get it," Cook said. "I got close."

Teammate Derek Jacobus said, "Famiek is one of the best finishers in the state. He was crazy athletic out there ... I just wanted a gosh-dang gold medal."

Linn-Mar's 400-meter relay came even closer.

Des Moines Lincoln and Linn-Mar were both clocked in 42.78 seconds. Carry it out another level — to thousandths: Lincoln 42.776, Linn-Mar 42.779.
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