DES MOINES, Iowa (USD) — Three Coyotes captured Drake Relays flags and freshman Sara Reifenrath broke the school record in the 400 meters to highlight Friday’s action inside Drake Stadium at the 111th Drake Relays.
Senior Helen Falda became the first Coyote to win back-to-back Drake Relays titles since Jeff Mettler (steeplechase, 2013-14). Falda captured the pole vault in 13-4 ½ (4.07m) to defend her relays title from 2019. There was no meet held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Falda led a squad of six women’s pole vaulters in the top-eight of the meet. Redshirt-freshman Gen Hirata finished runner-up at the same height with more attempts, redshirt-sophomore Deidra Marrison took fourth, freshman Jaidyn Garrett was fifth, and redshirt-sophomore Josephina Wright and freshman Cassidy Mooneyhan tied for eighth.
Redshirt-freshman Carly Haring captured her first collegiate Drake Relays title. She was victorious in the high jump with a clearance of 5-8 ¾ (1.75m).
Freshman Eerik Haamer added a victory in the men’s pole vault. He cleared 17-11 ¼ (5.47m) to take the gold. Senior Ethan Bray, who won the event in 2018, took fifth in the competition. Senior Kaleb Ellis was 10th.
South Dakota’s total number of Drake Relays champions has increased to 28. The Coyotes have won three or more flags in the last three meets.
Reifenrath finished runner-up in the 400 meters with her school record clocking of 53.22 seconds. She broke a 16-year-old record held by Stephanie Gebhart (53.59). She set the indoor school record for 400 meters earlier this year, marking the first time since 2001 that the same individual has held both the indoor and outdoor school records. Stephanie Knight previously held both from 1998 to 2001.
She wasn’t the only 400 runner to set a personal best on Friday. Freshman Demar Francis finished runner-up in the men’s race with a personal best of 46.56 seconds. He remains third in USD program history, just .01 shy of tying for second on USD’s all-time charts. Redshirt-freshman Madison Jochum added a personal best of 56.92 seconds.
The women’s 4×1600-meter relay placed third with a time of 20:00.80. The quartet included freshman Abrielle Jirele, redshirt-junior Jonna Bart, redshirt-freshman Haley Arens and redshirt-freshman Helen Gould, who moved to third on USD’s all-time charts.
The men’s 4×1600-meter relay took fifth in a time of 17:06.13. The relay consisted of redshirt-freshman Alec Atwood, redshirt-sophomore Merga Gemeda, redshirt-freshman Clayton Whitehead and redshirt-junior Cole Streich, which marks the fourth-fastest time in USD history.
Seven of the eight runners on the 4×1600-meter relays were doubling back from races in Thursday night’s distance carnival – including Bart, who set the school steeplechase record, and Gemeda who became the fourth Coyote to break 30 minutes in the 10,000 meters.
Redshirt-junior Holly Gerberding posted a pair of impressive marks on Friday. She placed fourth in the long jump with a wind-legal personal best of 19-3 ½ (5.88m). The mark ties her for seventh in USD program history. She also clocked 1:02.51 in the 400-meter hurdles for eighth place.
Senior Kamberlyn Lamer placed seventh in the triple jump with a leap of 38-10 ¼ (11.84m).
Competing back in their home state, redshirt-junior Callie Henrich and redshirt-sophomore Josephine Starner posted top-10 finishes in the shot put. Henrich took seventh in 48-3 ½ (14.71m) and Starner was ninth in 47-10 ¾ (14.60m).
Redshirt-sophomore Jessie Sullivan took seventh in the discus with a throw of 174-3 (53.11m).
The men’s and women’s 4×800-meter relays also posted season-best marks.
The women’s relay of redshirt-freshman Brigit Blote, redshirt-junior Kelsi Kearney, redshirt-freshman Ella Byers and freshman McKenna Herrmann took sixth in 9:11.04. It’s the fifth-best time in USD history.
The men’s relay of freshman Dylan Blake, redshirt-sophomore Kallo Arno, freshman Adam Murphy and Atwood finished ninth in 7:57.91.
The women’s 4×100-meter relay of freshmen Erin Kinney, Jacy Pulse, Hannah Young and Reifenrath clocked 46.73 seconds for ninth, just missing a spot in tomorrow’s final.
Punching tickets to Saturday’s finals in the sprints included redshirt-freshman Hugo Morvan in the 110-meter hurdles (14.59 seconds), redshirt-freshman Dylan Kautz in the 100 meters (10.81 seconds), and the men’s 4×100-meter relay (40.40).
South Dakota returns to Drake Relays action Saturday at 12:45 p.m.