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.”

Alburnett’s Thoreson wins one, anchors another for state title

May 23, 2009

DES MOINES — Kyle Thoreson stayed fresh, cooled down at the right time and produced major results for Alburnett.

Thoreson, a junior, won the 200-meter dash and anchored Alburnett’s 4×100 relay team to victory Saturday at the Class 1A state track meet at Drake Stadium.

Thoreson finished fourth in the 100 and had a quick turnaround to compete in the 200. He was able to regroup and won in 22.33 seconds.

“I thought it was an OK start,” Thoreson said. “I’m not known for the best starts in the world, but I was happy with this one.”

Thoreson anchored Alburnett’s 4×100 and fought neck-and-neck with Madrid’s Cody Matthewson down the stretch. Thoreson pulled it out with a lean at the end.

“I felt him there,” Thoreson said. “I saw him in the corner of his eye, so I just dug deep because I really wanted to win for the three seniors on our team.”

Clear Creek-Amana won the Class 3A shuttle hurdle relay in 59.37. The final turned into a virtual WaMac meet with Clear Creek-Amana edging Benton Community and Vinton-Shellsburg for the win.

Clear Creek-Amana’s four hurdlers all had Mohawk-styled haircuts to express uniformity.

“We just wanted to individualize each other like a team bond, and we actually just shaved his (Alex Novak’s) this morning,” said Hunter Stokes, who ran the third leg.

Waukon’s Jordan Ashbacher finished third in the Class 3A 800 run in 1:57.85. He caught Sioux City Heelan’s Matt Lord at the end.

“I knew that if I could stay up with that front pack I’d be doing pretty good,” Ashbacher said. “This is my last race of my senior year. Jut give it all I got and I think I could get him.”

Iowa City Regina sophomore Daniel Bonthius took second in the Class 2A 800 in 1:56.89. North Tama’s shuttle hurdle team placed second in 1:00.48.

Xavier’s Lewis the state’s fastest man

May 23, 2009

DES MOINES — Cedar Rapids Xavier senior Patrick Lewis was full of nerves entering the 100-meter dash final at the Class 4A state track meet Saturday.

By the time he ran the 200, those nerves had turned to steel.

Lewis sizzled to wins in both events and earned the state’s fastest times in the process. Lewis won the 100 in 10.62, .08 seconds better than Iowa City West senior Alonzo Markham. He later breezed past the competition to take the 200.

Lewis got out of the block a little slowly in the 100. He caught up with the field about 50 meters into the race and lunged past Markham to the win.

 “Starts have probably been my Achilles’ heel this whole season in the 100,” Lewis said. “I’ve learned how to catch up to everybody, and Alonzo’s the same way. Since we’ve got the longest strides, it’s the hard to get out against all the other shorter people. If we’re ever going to catch up, it’s just one of those things you’ve got to do and then see if I can get up to Alonzo in the end and beat everybody.”

Markham also struggled out of the block but was running stride for stride with Lewis by the end.

“My start could have been a little better,” Markham said. “Everybody beat me out of the blocks except Patrick. We got out pretty slow. Our start could have been better.

“As soon we got up to speed, it felt good. I just opened up my stride and tried to coast in. It was a good race.”

Lewis admitted he was a bit jittery entering the 100. He was loose and smooth in the 200. Lewis had the lead around the first turn and never surrendered it, winning in 21.43. Burlington’s Jamal Simmons finished second in 21.72.

“I think I got all the anxiety out in that first race,” Lewis said. “So I just came in here relaxed and it went good. I just felt good the whole race.”

Simmons nearly caught Lewis at the end of the event’s preliminary round. That stuck with him as he prepared for the finals.

“He came up real hard at the end so I knew I was going to have change something up,” Lewis said. “So the main focus was on this stretch just kind of like picking it up … I ended up going all out the whole race and it ended working out for me.”

Lewis will run track at Iowa State next year. By winning the 100, he’s considered the state’s fastest man. By taking the 200, he solidified it.

“You’ll never hear me say it,” he said. “It’s one of those things where people come up to you and say that you’re the fastest. You’ve just got to stay humble out there and try to run as fast as you can every time.”

Eastern Iowa’s mile markers earn victories

May 23, 2009

DES MOINES — Conner Smock and Cody Beemer talked about buying a pop. Eric Thien was thinking about cake. Brett Egan wanted to try a Wild Cherry Pepsi.

All lived Spartan lifestyles to attain the ultimate goal for a long-distance runner: to win a state championship in the 1,600-meter run. For Smock, Thien and Egan, the goal was achieved. Beemer, who teams with Smock at Lisbon, finished second.

For results click here

Egan, a senior at Waukon, stayed with the pack early then broke away late to win the Class 3A title. He finished in 4 minutes, 17.42 seconds, more than eight seconds ahead of runner-up Brogan Austin of Boone.

“I wanted to stay back on the first lap and set the pace,” Egan said. “When I saw it was like a 4:13 on the first 800, so I knew I could handle picking it up a little more.”

Nobody was within 60 meters of Egan when he crossed the finish line. The winning distance was comparable for Thien, who won the 2A crown for Tipton.

Thien, a senior, finished in 4:21.50, more than three seconds ahead of second-place Ryan Krogmann of Northeast Goose Lake. Thien also won the 3,200-meter on Thursday.

Thien set the pace early and maintained it throughout the race. He wasn’t even challenged.

“That was my goal the whole time,” Thien said. “It’s hot out, it’s the same condition for everyone. I knew it was hot, and then I was like you know what, let’s win state.”

Smock, a freshman, took over the 1A race midway through the second lap. He kept his pace and finished in 4:30.65. Beemer rallied down the stretch on the final 50 meters to take second in 4:33.20, .05 earlier than AGWSR’s Parker Drake.

“You say no fear, but I was pretty scared waiting for our race,” said Smock, who also won the 1A 3,200. “But I knew I could run a good enough time to win.”

Smock and Beemer trained together throughout the season and were finish 1-2. They also helped Lisbon finish third in Class 1A with 39 points, one point out of second place.

“I came in and the pace was a little fast, but I wanted to get my adrenaline out there,” Beemer said. ” The 200 meters, I  just said ‘OK,’ and I was able to kick it into second.”

For all, the training is over. They can look to their vices this weekend on Memorial Day cookouts. But it might not take that long.

“I think it’s sinking in right now,” said Smock about winning two events at state. “My teammate and I are going to drink a pop right now as soon as track season is over.”

“I’m going to the Pizza Ranch,” Thien said unprompted. “I’m getting some ice cream and some chicken wings.

I gave up my pop my freshman year. I gave up sweets. It’s hard because of graduation weekend. There was a lot of cake and stuff. When I get back, I’m going to have lots of cake.”

He can officially have his cake and it eat it, too.

CR Washington wins Class 4A state meet

May 23, 2009

DES MOINES – Cedar Rapids Washington won the metro area’s first Class 4A state track meet since 1977, scoring 60 points.

Washington topped Mississippi Valley Conference rival Iowa City West, which scored 56. Ames finished third with 50 points. Cedar Rapids Kennedy placed fifth with 42 points and Xavier was seventh with 32.

Washington was the last metro school to win the state meet.

In individual action, Xavier’s Patrick Lewis won the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

Kennedy’s Kyle Slaymaker won the 800 in 1 minute, 54.34 seconds. Kennedy’s shuttle hurdle relay team also won.

Check for updates throughout today.

Future Hawkeye Drew Clark destroys 3A shot put record

May 22, 2009
Marion senior Drew Clark concentrates as he makes his record-breaking throw of 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches during the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Marion senior Drew Clark concentrates as he makes his record-breaking throw of 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches during the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Marion senior Drew Clark’s only competition tonight was against himself.

And he still won.

Clark destroyed the shot put field with every throw at the Class 3A state meet. But it was his second toss that vaulted him from state champion to state legend.

Clark heaved the shot 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches, nearly two feet farther than the 32-year-old Class 3A record. It was the fourth-best throw in state history and the 11th-best throw nationally this year.

Defending champion Brandon Scherff of Denison-Schleswig finished second with a throw of 57-3 1/2, more than 7-4 shorter than Clark’s best toss.

“Actually the state title has been elusive to me the last two years,” Clark said. “When I was a sophomore, I had my best throw I had that year, and I ended up getting second. And last year, Brandon Scherff got me on his last throw. I kind of struggled that day — the tensing up got me on that — so I just wanted to stay loose.”

Clark warmed up at West Des Moines Valley High School on Thursday. He stayed loose by singing to himself. He felt good entering Friday’s competition.

“Shoulder separation is like the main thing that gets guys hurt at state, tensing up,” he said. “My first warm-up throw I could tell it was going to be a good day. My forearm was kind of tight and that helps me out a lot. That way you can get the snap off your fingers.”

Clark took a low-key approach to his first throw, and hit 61-6 1/2.

“I knew it was going to be big next because he takes a safe throw his first throw just to make sure he’s in,” said Drew’s father, Chuck, who’s in his 25th season at Marion’s throwing coach. “So I knew big things were coming.”

With a solid throw in early, Clark unleashed his second effort. His approach was intense. He shouted as his released the shot. Event officials conferred and marked the spot twice just to ensure it was a record.

“I think my dad was the first one that knew,” Clark said. “He threw his hands up.

“The first throw I always like to take it easy and get one in. And so I crank it up with the second throw.”

Clark didn’t taper off as the event progressed. He hit 60 feet in each of his three throws in the finals. His last toss of 63-7 would have set the state record by nearly 10 inches.

He impressed his competitors as well. Among the finalists include future Iowa football teammate and roommate Brett Van Sloten of Decorah and future Iowa basketball player Brennan Cougill, who finished fifth.

“Geez, that’s an accomplishment,” said Van Sloten who finished third. “I feel so good for him. If another man can win, I’d love to see him win it. He’s such a nice guy. Sixty-four, that’s incredible.”

Vinton-Shellsburg’s 4×200 relay team finished third in 1 minute, 30.56 seconds, just .04 seconds out of second place. Anchor runner Trevor  Walker started the final 200 in third place.

“After the corner, we were first,” said Walker, a senior. “Then it was just tight as possible at the end.”

In other 3A events, Washington senior Casey Negrete finished third in the 400 hurdles in 55.06 seconds. Waukon’s distance medley relay team finished fourth in 3:36.03.