Keenan Davis to challenge for starting spot at Iowa?

May 26, 2009
Keenan Davis (left) and Ronnie Henderson, both of Cedar Rapids Washington, compete in the 100-meter dash finals during the 23rd annual Warrior Wilkinson Relays at Thomas Park in Marion on May 1, 2009. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Keenan Davis (left) and Ronnie Henderson, both of Cedar Rapids Washington, compete in the 100-meter dash finals during the 23rd annual Warrior Wilkinson Relays at Thomas Park in Marion on May 1, 2009. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Keenan Davis sang the Cedar Rapids Washington fight song, wrapped himself in the Class 4A state championship flag and lifted track teammate Lewi Manirumva into the air moments before Washington was announced as the state’s best track team last Saturday in Des Moines.

Davis paced Washington to victory in the 4×200-meter relay and top five finishes in the 4×100 and the distance medley relay. It was a crowning moment to a brilliant high school career for Davis.

Now, it’s on to bigger and more high-profile events for Davis at the University of Iowa. It’s possible he’ll challenge to get on the football field this fall. In two weeks, he’ll head to Iowa’s summer training program and take his physical. Davis plans to stay in Iowa City through the summer to train and lift. The summer program begins June 8.

Cedar Rapids Washington wide receiver Keenan Davis pulls in a pass over Ross Siemering of Cedar Rapids Prairie during the first half at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 12, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids Washington wide receiver Keenan Davis pulls in a pass over Ross Siemering of Cedar Rapids Prairie during the first half at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on Sept. 12, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Davis, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs more than 200 pounds, caught 133 passes for 2,017 yards and 18 touchdowns the last two years at Washington. He was a two-time all-state wide receiver.

Davis also helped Washington’s basketball team reach the Class 4A substate finals and led the Warriors in scoring with 14.2 points a game.

“I’m going to try my hardest to be a leader and be out there and do what I have to do and be the player I can be,” Davis said.

It’s possible Davis could wind up starting for Iowa at wide receiver, based on Iowa’s recent track record at the position. In 2006, Iowa started true freshman Dominique Douglas at wide receiver. In 2007, red-shirt freshman James Cleveland started every game at the position. Both players have left Iowa followinare with Iowa right now.

Iowa returns three players with extensive experience at wide receiver, including past starters Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Trey Stross, key contributors Colin Sandeman and Paul Chaney Jr., and former quarterback Marvin McNutt. Stross and McNutt are listed as the starters following spring practice.

“I feel like if I compete and do everything right and do everything the way I’m supposed to do, yeah, I can get on the field,” Davis said. “But there are other people competing for that spot and if they compete better than me and do what they have to do, then they’ll be on the field. It’s just a toss-up.”


CR Washington earns state title

May 23, 2009

DES MOINES — Keenan Davis wrapped himself with the championship flag. He couldn’t help himself, it was there sitting there waiting for him.

Davis, a senior, gathered his Cedar Rapids Washington teammates together moments before the Warriors accepted the ultimate team goal in track: the state championship trophy. Washington’s athletes jumped up and down chanting, “We won state, we won state.”

Yes, they did. Washington became the first Cedar Rapids metro school to claim the Class 4A state title since 1977. Washington, which won state titles in 1975 and 1977, scored 60 points to beat Mississippi Valley Conference rival Iowa City West by four points.

“All year, we’ve been saying we need a state championship,” said Davis, who will play wide receiver for Iowa next fall. “As seniors, that’s all we dreamed about ever since we were little kids.”

Washington led throughout the three-day state meet and survived a few misses. Saturday, the Warriors entered the shuttle hurdle finals with the best preliminary time in the class. But lead-off runner Larry Johnson tripped over the sixth hurdle and nearly was disqualified. But Johnson gathered himself quickly and the Warriors finished fourth in the event.

“I didn’t lift my leg up on the shuttle hurdle, and it just kind of caught me this time,” Johnson said. “I just clipped it. I was in the lead and you win some and you lose some.”

But Johnson turned around a gutsy effort in the 110-meter high hurdles. He entered the round seeded fourth and placed second. That was one event that Washington Coach Bill Pinckney thought decided the meet’s outcome.

“You have ups and downs at the state meet and the kids responded,” Pinckney said. “They responded. If we lost in one event, we got kickbacks in other events.

“One of the ones that comes to mind is the shuttle hurdle. Larry caught a hurdle, almost went down and almost touched the next hurdle with his hands. He didn’t then he turns around, comes in fifth in the highs and gets second. That was a getback we had to have. It was huge.”

It wasn’t easy, and city rival Cedar Rapids Kennedy made sure it would hang on until the end. Kennedy finished in a fourth-place tie and won two events Saturday morning. Kyle Slaymaker won the 800 in 1:54.34.

“Last year I got boxed in and I was just trying to get out as quick as I could,” Slaymaker said. “I wasn’t sure if I had my pace set very well and I knew I came through in like 57 or so. I knew I was going to have to pick it up if I wanted to get a good time.

Kennedy took advantage of Washington’s early mistake in the shuttle hurdle and stormed past everyone to win that event. Iowa City West also gave Washington a ferocious challenge. The Trojans won the 4×100 and posted top-five finishes in the 100, 200 and 1,600.

Washington clinched the title in the the 4×100, the meet’s second-to-last race, with a fifth-place finish.

It was Washington’s day and weekend. The Warriors accepted their trophy and sang the school fight song. Amid sprinkles to the west of Drake Stadium, it was their perfect ending, one they all will remember.

“It’s not about one person; it’s about the whole team,” said Washington sophomore Alex Carr. “That’s nice. It feels good.”


Future Hawkeye Keenan Davis helps CR Washington take Class 4A lead

May 22, 2009
Cedar Rapids Washington's Alex Carr approaches the finish line in front of West Des Moines Valley's  Isaac Lintz and Kennedy's Kyle Slaymaker during the 4A Boys 4x200 Meter Relay during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Washington won the race in 1:27.64. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids Washington's Alex Carr approaches the finish line in front of West Des Moines Valley's Isaac Lintz and Kennedy's Kyle Slaymaker during the 4A Boys 4x200 Meter Relay during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Washington won the race in 1:27.64. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Chest bumps and high-fives are nothing new for Cedar Rapids Washington’s relay teams this year.

But this morning’s 4×200-meter relay brought poses and multiple jumps from Washington’s foursome. The Warriors scorched their competitors to win the event in 1 minutes, 27.64 seconds, the 11th-best time in state history.

Washington stayed in tight competition with West Des Moines Valley and Cedar Rapids Kennedy throughout the race. Then anchor Alex Carr sizzled down the stretch in the final 100 meters to give Washington its second consecutive state crown in the event.

Cedar Rapids Washington's Ronnie Henderson chest bumps teammate Keenan Davis after their relay team won the 4A boys 4x200 meter relay during the 2009 Class 4A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids Washington's Ronnie Henderson chest bumps teammate Keenan Davis after their relay team won the 4A boys 4x200 meter relay during the 2009 Class 4A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

“We knew it was the seniors’ last run,” said Carr, talking about lead-off runner Larry Johnson and second leg runner Keenan Davis. “We were talking , trying to get the record. We didn’t get it, but we still ran hard, and (we’ve) given these seniors another 4×200 championship, like we did at Drake.”

The win helped push Washington to the Class 4A team lead with 29 points. Iowa City West is second with 27, one point more than West Des Moines Dowling. Cedar Rapids Kennedy is fifth with 18 points.

Click here for meet results

The 4×200 title appeared almost flawless for Washington. That’s not the case behind the scenes. Junior Ronnie Henderson, who runs the third leg, said he struggled with handoffs during Thursday’s practices in West Des Moines.

“Either I left too early, or I left too late,” Henderson said. “So that was a big thing. So this time, I was hoping to get the handoffs and take care of my leg. I just wanted to run my leg right.”

Davis, who will play wide receiver this fall for the Iowa football team, said the team tries to stay loose before events by singing songs.

“Our coaches tell us to have fun,”  Davis said. “When we have fun, everybody wants to run on our team. We try to be goofy a little bit. We’re a goofy group, but when we get together (before a race), that’s when we get serious.”

After the race, Henderson, Carr and Davis embraced at the finish line. They jogged toward midfield, and Carr began yelling for Johnson. Finally, 10 seconds (but what felt like 10 minutes to Carr) later, Johnson emerged. The two jumped up and chest bumped each other. Moments later, the duo re-enacted the chest bump after a request from a local television reporter so he could air it on the station’s Friday night telecast. Then all four runners embraced.

“It feels so good,” Carr said. “I’ll never forget this. I love you guys.”

Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s distance medley team broke out to an early led and blew out the competition to win that event by more than three seconds. Khiry Hopkins started fast  in the 200-meter portion to get the Cougars in the lead. Junior Josh Simmons maintained it throughout his 200. Sophomore Anthony Crawley extended the lead in the 400 with a 49.1 split. Once Crawley handed off to senior Kyle Slaymaker, it was over.

“Khiry, being a senior, he shot out fast and the whole goal was just breaking stagger (the staggered field),” Simmons said. “He busted it.

“Our goal was coming around and give it to our 400 runner (Crawley) in first and then let Slay do his job after that.” 

He’s a sophomore, Anthony Crawley, he’s been working with me all winter and all this spring. I knew he’d step up.”

Cedar Falls, which had posted the season’s best time entering the race, finished second. Cedar Rapids Washington placed fourth.

“We knew coming into  the third heat whoever wins this race, wins this one,” Slaymaker said. “It was just a race to first.”

Linn-Mar sophomore Kyle Dunn had no illusions of grandeur entering the 400 hurdles. He didn’t think he’d win and wasn’t sure he could compete for a title until the race nearly was over.

“I didn’t think I was in the lead until I went down the stretch and I heard the announcer say ‘Dunn and Holmes,’” Dunn said. “That just pushed me forward and gave me the confidence and the extra oomph to get to the finish line.”

“I was just hoping to get a top-four finish. I came out here and ran the race my coaches told me to, and turned it out well for me.”

Linn-Mar's Kyle Dunn hits the last hurdle on his way to winning the Class 4A boys 400-meter hurdles during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Linn-Mar's Kyle Dunn hits the last hurdle on his way to winning the Class 4A boys 400-meter hurdles during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Dunn edged Clinton’s Ethan Holmes by the slimmest of margins. Dunn finished the race in 52.70, while Holmes placed second at 52.71.

“I thought I lost it by a couple tenths of a second,” Dunn said. “I guess I got him.”

A photo finish at the end kept the runners waiting for nearly a minute. The wrong name originally went to the top of the leaderboard before Dunn’s name was announced as the winner.

Dunn led down the back stretch and even hit the final hurdle before recovering for the victory.

“It didn’t slow me down too much,” Dunn said. “I’m used to hitting that last hurdle.

“The second half of the race was all guts. That’s what the 400 hurdles are all about.”

Iowa City West senior Gavin Smith finished second in the long jump at 21 feet, 5 inches.


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