JUCO track and field: Warriors wrap up busy weekend in multiple states

Apr. 11—KIRKSVILLE, Mo. — Anthony Duncan's final race for Van Buren County high school resulted in a state championship win.

Just one day after finishing 0.07 seconds short of winning the Class 2A boys 400-meter dash at the Iowa High School State Track and Field meet, Duncan turned on the jets after a slow start to edge Iowa Falls-Alden junior Jaden Damiano for the 400-meter hurdle state title finishing his final high school race in 54.97 seconds in front of a packed crowd at Drake Stadium.

Duncan was back on the track last Friday in Missouri, competing for the Indian Hills men at the Truman State Invitational in Kirksville. Back on the track in the two races that he battled for state titles in last May, Duncan posted a time of 51.71 seconds to finish fourth in the open 400 meters before clearing the 400-meter hurdles in 1:00.69.

"It was about average for how I've been doing in the open 400," Duncan said. "I was sick last week, so I haven't been able to do much. I haven't been able to practice for the past two weeks. I'm still not where I was at when state was over with last spring.

"In the 400 hurdles, that was a really bad race for me. I haven't run that race that bad since my junior year of high school."

Duncan is not only getting back to full strength in terms of health, but is also getting back up to speed adjusting to the change in the level of competition from high school to college. The freshman is competing with a team filled with talented athletes, many of whom raised the bar for the Indian Hills track and field program earlier this year bringing home the NJCAA National Indoor men's track and field title.

The Warriors continued their push towards adding the outdoor men's national track and field title this past weekend, scoring wins in five different events at the University of Arkansas Spring Invitational. Traunard Folson shattered IHCC's school record in the 100-meter dash held by Olympic silver medalist Kenny Bednarek, finishing the race in 9.98 seconds producing the top all-conditions time in the NJCAA and the fourth-fastest time among all athletes around the world on any level.

Facing that kind of competition on his own team has been part of an eye-opening experience for Duncan after working his way to being one of best high school quarter-milers in Iowa last year.

"I've had to adjust. The hurdles have risen up by six inches since high school and I've only had about two practices in it," Duncan said. "The kids here are great athletes, nothing like who I've competed against before. It really was like a wake-up call showing how good kids really are outside of Iowa and how good the athletes are that come to compete at Indian Hills.

"It's good to train around them and see their mindsets. It's going to better me in the long run."

The busy weekend for the Indian Hills men's and women's track and field teams began at Truman State, where the Warriors got impressive performances in the field from freshman thrower Tate Joens. The indoor NJCAA All-American placed third in the shot put, discus and hammer breaking his own school-record in the hammer throw with a toss of 57.54 meters.

On the track, the Warrior women produced the top two times in the 100-meter dash. Zakiya Porter edged IHCC teammate Kourtlyn Cannon for the top preliminary time by 0.06 seconds, finishing the semifinals in 12.72, before Cannon came back to edge Porter in the finals by the exact same margin crossing the finish line in 12.82 seconds.

"Everyone on the team are super fast. We're always pushing each other every day in practice," Cannon said. "Even at times when we don't want to run at practice, you've got teammates there to fire you up. We run together and it becomes a friendly competition

"Kourtlyn really pushes me to go faster. I try to do the same for her," Porter added. "We're hoping that we can make our coaches proud for the outdoor national championship."

Indian Hills found more wins on the track in Arkansas on Saturday highlighted by the record run from Folson. Reigning national 800-meter champion Tyrice Taylor earned the win for the Warrior men in the same race in a time of 1:52.74, earning his 12th career win at IHCC.

Brandon Ford added a distance win for the Warriors, claiming the men's 3,000-meter run in 8:33.56. In the field, Anthony Ward took the men's triple jump title breaking a school record in the event with a mark of 14.89 meters.

Stephen Brown joined Folson, Amos Oruamabo and Michael Blank in winning the men's 4x100 relay for Indian Hills, producing the nation's third-fastest time by finishing in 40.09 seconds. Other top-five finishes for the Warrior men in Arkansas included a runner-up finish in the 4x400 relay in 3:10.75, a fourth-place finish from Cyrus Ways in the 110 and 400-meter hurdles with times of 11 seconds even and 53.96, top-10 in the nation in all conditions so far this season.

Triston Miller also added a fourth-place finish in the men's high jump, clearing 2.01 meters. The graduate of Columbus Junction has been Duncan's roommate this year and something of a source of inspiration proving that Iowa's top high school athletes can find success on the next level.

"He's a hard-worker and a great teammate. He's one of the best friends I've made since I got to Indian Hills," Duncan said of Miller. "That just shows that you come from a small town in Iowa and do some pretty amazing things."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.