DES MOINES — Brandon Carnes felt right at home Friday night during his return to the Drake Relays.

The former University of Northern Iowa sprinter who won 16 Missouri Valley Conference titles and rewrote the school sprinting record book made his professional debut a year ago at the Drake Relays after winning flags his final two years as a collegiate athlete.

Battling a world-class 200-meter field, Carnes finished second with a time of 20.62 while Indian Hills Community College phenom Kenny Bednarek won the race with the world’s ninth-fastest 2019 time of 20.29.

“I wasn’t too fond about the time, but I’ve still got to run fast later,” Carnes said. “We’re just staying with the program.”

Carnes used this return to Drake as a tune-up before the USA Nationals in Des Moines July 25-28.

“I’m glad to be back, just getting the chance to get back on the track and get ready for USAs (outdoor nationals) in July,” Carnes said. “I’m glad to perform back in front of my home UNI crowd.”

The former UNI standout is still getting adjusted to a professional lifestyle. He secured a sponsorship deal with Adidas and moved to Texas in November to work with a training group. Track and field coach Matt Kane has become his new instructor.

“As a pro you’ve got to really take care of your body,” Carnes said, addressing the adjustment. “It’s not like college when you’ve got access to a training room 24/7, but you’ve got to put a lot of time and money into your body to take care of it, especially at the high level we’re training at.”

While Carnes flew into Des Moines Thursday and has a flight home to resume training Saturday morning, he enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with UNI’s athletes and coaches.

“That’s all family,” Carnes said. “I still know everybody on that team so that’s all love.”

Focused more on the 100-meter race, Carnes is driven to find success at track and field’s highest level.

“I want to become a Drake Relays champion on the pro circuit, but I’m still young so I’m definitely going to get one soon,” Carnes said.

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KNIGHT MEN SECURE FIRST FLAG: Wartburg College’s 4x800-meter relay team of freshman Dalton Martin, sophomore Frosty Lorimer and seniors Mark Schultz and Casey Roberts had a memorable Friday, securing the first Drake Relays men’s event win in program history.

Roberts improved from fifth to first on his anchor leg to finish off the college division’s championship time of 7:42.63. Roberts, a two-time NCAA Division III All-American, had finished as high as third in the Drake Relays as a member of Wartburg’s distance medley last season.

“I knew I had some ground to make up. That last lap I reeled it back into contention and I was just thinking about those guys right there,” Roberts said, pointing toward his teammates. “It’s a team sport and I was doing it for them.

“Day-in and day-out we work. We knew coming into the season we were going to have a pretty special team this year. I think it surpassed all of our minds, what we’ve accomplished so far. I’m just excited to see where we can go.”

Hawkeye Community College’s Konner Roth, Landon Boomsa, David Thompson and Payton Bahl were fourth in the event that featured 18 teams.

HEIMS ENJOYS DRAKE DEBUT: While Paralympian Jessica Heims didn’t break the F64 classification world record she recently set in Iowa City, the University of Northern Iowa sophomore found consistency Friday during her Drake Relays discus debut.

Heims’ form was on point throughout the day as she produced six attempts that landed from 100-feet, 7-inches to 105-3 — just four inches back of her world record. She hit 105 twice during the competition.

“I love the crowd and I love the energy,” Heims said. “I watched a little in the stadium so that got me excited.”

Heims will compete next week in Wisconsin, including a running event, before transitioning into her Paralympic event workload.

POTTER THREE-PEAT: UNI grad Eric Potter won his third consecutive Drake Relays 800-meter masters title in 2:04.2.

Other local collegiate top 10 finishers Friday included:

  • Wartburg (Erica Rittgers, Belle Tyynismaa, Ashley Stevens, Lily Campbell), second, women’s 4x800 college division in 9:19.27.
  • UNI (Lyndsie Schinkel, Katie Nimrod, Brittany Davis, Jasmine Armstrong), sixth, university women’s 4x800 in 8:54.44.
  • Wartburg (Alanna Muhammad, Brenna Jacobs, Jaderial Staebler, Erica Rittgers) eighth, women’s sprint medley in 4:07.2.
  • Hope Koerperich, UNI, ninth in the women’s discus at 157-11.
  • Maddie McCalla, UNI, 10th in the women’s 200 in 24.44.

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