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DES MOINES — Brandon Carnes left a strong, lasting impression with his blazing speed in Northern Iowa purple Saturday afternoon at the Drake Relays during his defense of the men’s 100-meter championship.

Prior to that race, Carnes’ UNI teammates added their school’s name to the list of champions in the shuttle hurdle relay for the first time.

Those were a pair of the highlights from a strong Saturday for UNI track and field on the blue oval.

One week removed from clocking the nation’s fifth-fastest 100 time of 10.06 at Iowa City’s Musco Invitational, Carnes didn’t get out of the blocks as quick as usual. His drive revealed itself when the UNI senior still crossed the line in 10.17 seconds, 0.23 better than runner-up Shaheed Hickman of Iowa Western and 0.11 better than his championship time from a year ago.

Carnes’ 10.17 was just shy of the Drake Relays record 10.11 set by Ohio State’s Calvin Smith in 1983.

“I didn’t have the greatest start, but the main goal was just to stay relaxed and just execute the race,” Carnes said. “It means a lot. Everybody’s talking about the (cold and rainy) weather, but I just want to run and give the state of Iowa something to see. I’m just blessed to come back out here.”

Carnes, the MVC record holder in the 100 and 200, has lofty goals now within his reach.

In addition to his final outdoor conference and postseason meets, the UNI sprinter is qualified for the late June U.S. Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. — a qualifying meet for the World Outdoor Championships in London. He’s eager to see how far he can take his passion for track.

“I know I’m doing all the right things on and off the track, so I can’t complain,” Carnes said. “I’m staying focused and worrying about the bigger picture.

“My main goal is to run professional. I pray and ask God if he can bless me with that opportunity.”

While Carnes added to his legacy, UNI’s hurdlers have turned their upbeat and competitive practices into an impressive collaborative effort on the track.

Jon Rus, Connor Ham, Daurice Fountain and Cole Phillips beat Air Force and Ohio State to the finish line, capturing UNI’s first-ever Drake Relays shuttle hurdle championship. The Panthers’ time of 56.74 broke a school record of 56.95 that had stood since 1993.

“We grind together every day and we push each other,” Phillips said. “To be honest, we weren’t even thinking about the school record. We just wanted to get that Drake championship. It’s something we’ve talked about all year because we know that we have four great guys and we knew that we could get it.”

Added Fountain, “Jon got out and got us a good lead. We knew Connor was going to hold his own, and when it got to me I just had to do my part. The fast, speedy guy Cole just brought it home for us.”

UNI’s deep ties to this meet were also revealed in the sprint medley where the all-Iowa quartet of Jasmine Blue, Maddie Bell, Madisen Irmen and Lyndsie Schinkel finished runner-up to champion North Dakota State with a time of 3:54.25. That mark ranks third in school history.

“It’s kind of like a dream come true,” said Bell, a UNI sophomore who led Hudson to a state team title her senior year of high school. “I’ve always loved running on this track, and the atmosphere makes you just want to run even faster and do even better.”

Schinkel, a former Ankeny prep, improved three places on her final lap of the anchor leg.

“It’s so fun being with other girls that look at Drake the same way that I do,” Schinkel said. “It’s such an honor to be able to run here in high school and now to be able to do it again in college with three other teammates who feel the same way.”

One event later, UNI’s Jalen Rima joined Corey Hertz, former Waverly-Shell Rock standout Brett McCalla and Nevada native Colynn Black to place third in the men’s sprint medley in 3:23.9. Iowa won the race at 3:20.4.

UNI coach Dave Paulsen continues to keep members of his relays on their toes and the group is assembled prior to competition.

“One thing our coach really does with us is he kind of sees where everyone is at, who is running well,” Black said. “Our team, we’re all close. No matter who gets the position to run, we’re all supporting of each other and know whoever has the role is going to do their best and do a good job.”

UNI added a fourth-place finish in the university men’s 4x400 and a sixth in the university women’s 4x400. The Panthers’ Jordan Pingel was sixth in 800-meter run.

In the throws, freshman Tom Yezek led UNI with a fourth-place effort of 176 feet, 5 inches on his fifth of six discus attempts. Isaac Holtz was just behind his Panther teammate in fifth at 175-9.

UNI junior Sarah Pate led the Panther women with a fifth-place mark of 186-4 in the hammer throw.

KNIGHT MEDLEY: Wartburg’s Saturday was highlighted by a runner-up finish in the college distance medley. Jaclyn Riggers, Kaitlyn Muhlenbruch, Betsy Duehr and Meghan Silbernagel combined for the 12:05.79 time. Wartburg added an eighth-place finish in the college women’s 4x400.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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