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Tyynismaa’s triple, Dean’s double

South Tama junior, Marshalltown senior have multiple events at Drake Relays

T-R FILE PHOTO - Marshalltown senior Deonté Dean, center, races toward the finish line in the 200-meter dash during the Kenny Dean Invite on April 1 at Leonard Cole Field.

When the Drake Relays take place for high school athletes at Drake Stadium, it’ll be a profoundly different Relays than most are used to.

After a cancellation of the Relays in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will take place with heavily limited attendance and with stipulations for the competitors, as well.

Participating in the Relays will be three individuals from the area — JoJo Tyynismaa of South Tama girls’ track and field, Lizzie Garber of BCLUW girls’ track and Deonté Dean of the Marshalltown boys — and the 4×100-meter relay from the Marshalltown boys.

Tyynismaa has qualified for the Trojans in three events. In the 100 dash, Tyynismaa is in the fourth and final heat as the sixth seed following her 12.53-second qualifying time. She is the seventh seed in the 100 hurdles, starting in lane one of the fourth and final heat. The junior is also the sixth seed in the 400 hurdles after qualifying with a time of 1:06.54.

Tyynismaa missed the chance to compete in the Relays last season, but in 2019 she gained valuable experience as a freshman by running the 400 hurdles on the blue track and finishing 18th.

South Tama girls’ first-year track and field coach Emily Chyma said she doesn’t take much credit for how well Tyynismaa has done this season, passing that on to prior coaches and the many runners in the Tyynismaa family, but she said it’s been impressive to see her level performance stay so high throughout.

“It’s gonna be fun,” Chyma said. “I guess I can’t really put it into words. I just really love all of our South Tama kids.

“It’s so good to see her meet her goals. She’s got some tough ones, and I know she’s going to hit them, but it’s gonna be one thing to see her on that blue oval and go up against other competitors at her caliber and see what she does.”

She added that Tyynismaa is being rested during some practices this week in order to be fully ready for the Relays.

Also participating in the 100 hurdles is Garber, a BCLUW senior in her first appearance at the Relays. Garber qualified for the event as the 20th seed with a time of 16 seconds flat, which landed her in the second heat out of four and lining up in lane six.

Garber has been consistent in her hurdles performances this season, and she will be the only representative from the Comets in the Relays.

In the boys’ competition, the focus is on Marshalltown senior Deonté Dean. Dean has posted the best time in the state in the 200 dash, but the Relays do not run that event. Instead, Dean will be running in the 100 dash and as a member of the 4×100 relay. Dean’s time of 10.96 in the 100 is good enough for the sixth seed.

Bobcats coach Doug Bacon said the steps forward Dean has taken have earned him this spot.

“It almost seems like it came out of nowhere, some people might think that,” Bacon said. “But if you’ve watched the work that [Dean] has put in even last year when we were shut down, he was still getting after it. He worked all winter in the weight room, he’s continued to work on his starts and things like that.”

Dean is one of four members of the 4×100 relay, which includes fellow senior Jaiden Buchanan, sophomore Malachi Holmes and sophomore Jayzek Lee. The relay is seeded 35th and will be in the second of six heats.

Bacon said that Buchanan has been very impressive this season, particularly in the 400 dash.

But as big as this is for the senior duo, Bacon said it’s also big for the younger runners who didn’t get a chance to debut at the varsity level in 2020 to get high-level experience.

“It’s a good opportunity,” Bacon said. “We did have the boys in the stadium a couple weeks ago for the Jim Duncan, but this is a little bit bigger deal.”

The Relays begin Thursday at 9 a.m. with the sprint medley relay.

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