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11 local qualifiers for Drake Relays

DES MOINES — The list of high school qualifiers for the 110th running of the Drake Relays was announced on Saturday and there were plenty of area athletes who made the cut.

BCLUW will be represented once again by Iowa State commit Jack Garber in the 110-meter high hurdles, the second-straight year Garber has qualified in the race. Last year he finished in fifth in the finals and Garber is looking to up that, coming into the Relays with the fourth-best time in the state.

The Comets also qualified in the boys shuttle hurdle relay, giving Garber and teammates Koty Kruse, Coby Willett and Neifer Ralston another chance to compete on the Blue Oval.

South Tama County leads the area teams with four total qualifiers, headed by high-jumping tandem Keith Keahna and Stacey Slaven.

Keahna, a University of Iowa signee and last year’s Class 3A high jump champ, is making his second-straight showing at Drake after placing second in his debut a year ago.

Slaven has made her home at the Blue Oval, as she qualifies for the Relays for the fourth time in her career. Her best finish came as a sophomore in 2017 when she finished in 12th.

Joining Keahna and Slaven as an individual and making her Drake Relays debut is for STC is freshman JoJo Tyynismaa, who made the field in the 100 meter hurdles. The South Tama girls 4×100 relay team will also make the trip to Des Moines.

Also making her debut at Drake will be East Marshall senior Melinda Puumala, who qualified in both the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles, the only area athlete to garner two individual qualifications. Puumala has her best chance at doing damage in the 400 hurdles, where she currently is 14th in the state with her best time of 1 minute, 7.33 seconds, run at Gilbert on April 15.

Another girl from across Marshall County will also compete at Drake for the first time, as West Marshall junior Renae Schaper qualified in the shot put. Schaper’s best throw of 39 feet, 5 1/4 inches, is currently 18th in the state.

One more area girl will be making her Drake Relays debut, with Gladbrook-Reinbeck sophomore Saari Kuehl earning a spot in the girls high jump. Kuehl has a top height of 5-4, which is tied for 11th best in the state and just one inch behind fourth-best.

Marshalltown has one representative on the list, with the 4×100 relay team returning after a qualification a year ago. The Bobcat relay team of Sara Trowbridge, Kierra Gardner, Alyvia Chadderdon and Abbey Weldon has a best time of 53.09 this season.