Tyynismaa says hello, Slaven says goodbye

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

DES MOINES — The South Tama County girls track and field team had a rare and special moment at the 110th running of the Drake Relays on Friday.

Trojan senior Stacey Slaven competed in the high jump for her fourth and final time during the morning session, while freshman JoJo Tyynismaa made her Drake Relays debut by competing in the 100-meter hurdles.

Both girls represented themselves well, with Slaven finishing tied for 11th in the high jump with a vault of 5 feet, 2 inches, which matched her previous Drake best, and Tyynismaa had a career-best time of 15.62 seconds to place 18th out of 32 competitors and fifth in her heat.

Slaven said even though she has competed at Drake Stadium six total times — four in the Drake Relays and twice at the state meet — she still had butterflies in her stomach before receiving some wise words from her longest mentor.

“I was pretty nervous, this season has been kind of up and down and shaky, so I was pretty nervous but my mom reminded me that I’m better when I’m relaxed so I just kind of needed to hear that and kept it in my mind all day,” Slaven said.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Tyynismaa was essentially the polar opposite, saying she felt great about competing and even better once it had all finished.

“It felt like just a normal race to me,” she said. “It was a PR (personal record) and I was really happy about that, that’s kind of what I aimed to do here, try to PR and do as best as I can.”

Tyynismaa’s race was the first of the day, with the gun sounding at 8 a.m.

“I was barely awake but I ran,” she said with a laugh.

Despite the early start time she competed well, even while running alongside eventual event runner-up Peyton Steva from Iowa City West. In fact, four of the eight finalists came out of Tyynismaa’s heat.

“I was glad I had a lot of good competition in my heat to push me,” she said. “I was really trying to stay up with those girls, I didn’t really know a lot about them but when they were doing the finals I thought, ‘I’m glad I had these girls to compete against.'”

Slaven was the veteran in her heat, with no girl possibly qualifying for more Drake Relays than her. It was obvious from the way she prepared, too, and with how she cleared the opening height of 5 feet on her first attempt with little drama.

“I am really glad I got that on my first height because I was really nervous for that in the days leading up to this,” she said.

Slaven missed her first attempt at 5-2 but cleared it with ease on her next go, then at 5-4 she had a tough first attempt but on her final two she just barely missed her arch to knock over the bar. She still did well enough to finish tied for 11th, her best placing in four years, and she said it was just another day in the office.

“I am pretty proud. It just kind of feels normal to me,” she said.

Slaven and Tyynismaa will get to experience something new together today, however, as both will run in the 4×100 for the first time at the Relays.

“I’ve only run on the Blue Oval once before so I’m really excited for tomorrow and I think we are going to do pretty well,” Slaven said.

Tyynismaa said getting to compete on Friday was a fantastic way to prepare for running again today.

“I think I’m a little less nervous, definitely,” she said. “Getting that first one over with, that definitely helps with the 4×100 tomorrow.”

The third and final day of the Drake Relays begins at 8 a.m. this morning at Drake Stadium, and the girls 4×100 event is slated to start at 9:30 a.m.