South Tama’s Keith Keahna takes 4th in high jump at Drake Relays

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - South Tama County senior Keith Keahna rises for an attempt at 6 foot, 7 inches, during the high jump competition at the Drake Relays on Thursday in Des Moines. Keahna placed fourth in the event for his second top-five finish at the Drake Relays in his career.

DES MOINES — Through the first three heights of the boys high jump competition at the 110th running of the Drake Relays on Thursday, South Tama County senior Keith Keahna was completely in control.

Keahna easily cleared the opening height of 6 foot, 1 inch, on his first attempt, then it was the same routine at 6-3 and 6-5, as the University of Iowa commit went up and over and moved on.

The sticking point came at 6-7, a height that Keahna has cleared multiple times in his career but has yet to get over this season. He took his first miss on his first attempt at the height, and in his next two attempts he nearly had the bar cleared but just clipped it on the way down.

Because of his efforts in the first three heights, however, Keahna finished in fourth out of 23 competitors for his second-straight year of a top-five finish at the Drake relays.

After watching the completion of the event and congratulating winner Grant Brouwer from Sibley-Ocheyedan and runner-up Braeden Hoyer from Northeast, who both cleared 6-9, Keahna said he was satisfied with his showing.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - South Tama County senior Keith Keahna pumps his fist after clearing the bar at 6 feet, 5 inches, on his first attempt during the Drake Relays on Thursday. Keahna placed fourth in the event.

“I’m not disappointed at all, the only disappointment I have is that I was really close to 6-7 on every one of my jumps,” Keahna said. “I was happy to represent my school down here, being the only one for the boys again. It was another fun time down here.”

Competing in the high jump comes with a lot of downtime, especially when there are 23 high-level competitors. That time between jumps can be a detriment to a lot of athletes at a meet as big as the Drake Relays, but after his experiences last year where he took second in the Relays and won the Class 3A high jump at the state meet on the same mat, Keahna said the Blue Oval is essentially his second home.

“I guess I’m just better down here, I know what I have to do coming down here every time I jump here,” he said. “I just try to put it all together mentally, I did that last year and came down here and got second, and I did that again today and I’m happy with the way I jumped.”

Having a second-place finish a year ago set Keahna up for some high expectations heading into this year’s Drake Relays, so after not reaching the same peak he did last year it took a minute for him to put into perspective what he has accomplished the last two years. When Keahna did finally realize his feat, it honestly seemed to shock him.

“I am really happy with myself,” he said. “Being able to do that, I know no one at our school has been able to do that before, so for me to be able to do that, come down here two years in a row and get top five, that’s probably my biggest accomplishment. This meet is so legendary, it’s fun to come down here and jump in all that atmosphere.”

There was a little bit of an added element to the atmosphere as well, since in the middle of Keahna’s warm-up for his second jump the drumline that is typically featured during the opening day of the Relays kicked into high gear.

“As soon as we started hearing it I was like, ‘what is going on?'” Keahna said with a laugh. “It really made me focus harder on what I was supposed to do and think about it more.”

With one of his goals now checked off, Keahna has his sights turned toward defending his state title and finally breaking the Trojan high jump record with a vault of 6-9, which he said he now feels more confident in accomplishing than ever.

“I am still looking for that 6-7 mark this year. I know I can do it, I hit it many times last year, and I know I can for sure after today get 6-9,” Keahna said. “That 6-9 is so close, it’s probably later than when I expected to get it but I am happy with how I am going forward and excited for these next three weeks.”

Day two of the Drake Relays begins bright and early at 8 a.m. today.