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The Gazette KCRG
Posted April 22, 2010
Willms’ 6-1 high jump ranks No. 1 in U.S.

Hannah Willms of Dike-New Hartford celebrates after clearing the bar in the girls' high jump Thursday at the Drake Relays. Willms cleared 6 feet, 1 inch, an all-time Iowa best and the top effort in the nation in 2010. (AP photo)

DES MOINES — Four more weeks.

That’s how much longer Hannah Willms will compete in the high jump.

It’s a shame. She’s the best ever in Iowa. And she’s the best this year in the nation.

Willms extended her all-time Iowa best Thursday afternoon, clearing the bar at 6 feet, 1 inch, to win her third consecutive Drake Relays championship.

A senior at Dike-New Hartford and an Iowa State recruit in volleyball, Willms will put her track skills on the shelf after the state meet here in May.

She entered Thursday with an state-best effort of 6-0 1/4, set last year. She surpassed it. Twice.

“I had fresh legs, and I was really driving with my speed,” she said.

After winning the event by clearing 5-10 on her second jump, Willms went after history as a good number of the athletes sauntered over to watch.

She cleared 6-0 1/2 on her final jump, then made it over 6-1 on her first.

She was close twice at 6-2.

It was an uncommonly strong field. Four jumpers cleared 5-7, and Taylor Twedt of West Fork got over 5-9 to finish second.

“There were still four jumpers going at 5-8, and that’s great,” Willms said. “There was no room for mistakes.”

Ashley Smith of Milliken, Calif., had been the 2010 national leader at 5-11 1/2 before Thursday.

Katie Flood of West Des Moines Dowling won her fourth straight girls’ 3,000-meter crown, closing with a 69-second lap to pull away in a Drake-record 9:43.39.

“I wanted to run how I felt,” said Flood, who will run at the University of Washington next year. “I felt pretty good.”

Flood beat her old Drake record of 9:44.96 (set in 2007), and nearly eclipsed her all-time Iowa best of 9:42.17 (set the same year).

Teammate Ashlie Decker edged Morgan Casey of Northeast for second.

Glenwood’s Johnny Fuller scampered away from a five-man pack with 400 meters remaining to win the boys’ 3,200 in 9:12.34.

“I wanted that like nobody’s business,” Fuller said. “A lot of people win state championships. Not a lot of people win these.”

Fuller and Evan Selsor of Winterset went out ahead of the pack, running the first half of the race in 4:27.

Three more runners came to challenge late, then Fuller burst ahead with a lap to go.

Kenny Gilmore of Davenport Central was the boys’ long jump champion, with a leap of 22 feet, 9 1/2 inches.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Caleb Mere (21-9 3/4) was third. 

Caleb Mere of Cedar Rapids Kennedy placed third in the boys' long jump. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

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