DES MOINES — It took the best runners in the state to beat Isaac Eaton to the finish line for the first time this season in the 400-meter hurdles.
Of course, only four other high school runners in the entire state were able to beat the Ottumwa senior in the race this season. Eaton placed fifth in the 400-meter hurdles, breaking his own school record by crossing the finish line 55.3 seconds on Thursday at the 2021 Drake Relays.
"I still see a lot more time coming off Issac's mark this season," Ottumwa head boys track and field coach John Lawrence said. "With the new format of all the high school events at the Relays taking place in one day, I knew it would be a challenge for the boys."
Eaton took part in a pair of top-10 finishes for the Bulldogs, anchoring the 4x200 relay to a time of 1:30.59. Charlie Welch and Mason Farrington, filling in for an injured Gatlin Menninga, led off the run in the half-mile relay for the Bulldogs before Austin Fountain and Eaton brought home a seventh-place finish for Ottumwa.
Fountain placed 14th in the 400 hurdles for OHS in 58.45 seconds. Fountain and Eaton also ran the final two legs of the 4x400 relay race for the Bulldogs with Farrington and Charlie Welch joining in for the 15th-fastest time of 3:29.18.
"Charlie gave us a great opening leg in both relays. We dropped a second-and-a-half off the 4x200," Lawrence said. "It was going to be hard for the 4x400 kids after competing in all the other races, but they ran as hard as their bodies would let them."
Menninga missed out on running in both relay races for the Bulldogs as well as competing in the long jump. The Ottumwa senior injured his hamstring last Saturday at the Hollingsworth Relays in Iowa City and was unable to take part in the Drake Relays.
Jesus Jaime got in plenty of throws on Thursday at the Drake Relays, competing in both the boys shot put and discus finals for Ottumwa. Jaime reached 52-2.75 in the shot put, placing 10th, before finishing 16th in the discus with a throw of 148 feet and one inch.
"Jesus had a lot of tough competition, but he now knows where he needs to be by the end of the season," Lawrence said.
The Ottumwa girls had three athletes competing in the field. Anne Guest, back at the Drake Relays competing in the high jump for the third time, failed to record a height during the competition as Guest continues to try and round back into consistent form after having last season taken away due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's just been a little frustrating. There are jumps where my body clears the bar and there's just one little thing that seems to cause to bar to get knocked over," Guest said. "I haven't been the happiest with my marks this season. Having that long layoff really affected me, especially my legs. With the gyms being shut down, I didn't get to lift as much.
"I'm just trying to get more reps in and build up my confidence. It's just hard when you go from meet to meet. We haven't had those hard practices yet to work on heights. We've mostly had practices to avoid getting hurt or getting tired for the next meet."
Ottumwa teammates Madelyn Houk and Lina Newland were two of the four area athletes competing in the girls long jump at Drake. Houk edged Newland for 21st place by half-an-inch, reaching 15-4.5 on her top leap into the sand while Newland hit 15 feet and four inches.
Fairfield junior Kelsey Pacha kicked off a successful day at Drake by placing seventh with a personal-best leap of 17-1.5. Pacha was far from done, breaking the school record in the 100-meter hurdles while placing ninth in 15.63 seconds before helping the shuttle hurdle relay team finish seventh in 1:08.39, the fifth-fastest time in school history in the race.
Anna Dunlap was right along side Pacha in a successful day for the Fairfield girls track and field program at the Drake Relays. Dunlap produced the third-fastest 100-meter hurdle run in program history, finishing 10th in 15.68 seconds while joining Pacha on both the shuttle hurdle run and a 23rd-place finish in the 4x100 relay with Kira Robertson and Danielle Breen joining in for a first-round time of 51.265 seconds.
Other area athletes that competed in the high school portion of the Drake Relays included Davis County sophomore Kallie Greiner, who placed 14th in the girls long jump reaching 16 feet and three inches. Pekin junior Kerrigan Pope placed 15th in the girls discus with a throw of 117 feet and seven inches while Centerville junior Allison Casteel crossed the finish line in 20th place in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.36 seconds.