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.
“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.
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.”
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.