DES MOINES, Iowa – Edward Kemboi did it by feel. Kianna Elahi did by running her usual steady race. Both Iowa Staters qualified for their respective NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship finals, by finishing second in the semifinals of the men’s 800 meters (Kemboi) and women’s 400-meter hurdles Wednesday at Drake Stadium.
Kemboi dropped back early in his 800-meter heat, but there was no come from the back effort he used to win the Big 12 meet last month. He finished second to Iowa’s Erik Sowinski with a 1:46.20 clocking, the second-fastest time of his career. Sowinski ran 1:46.09. The third heat was not considered the toughest preliminary going into the event, but it turned out to be just that, with six runners finishing under 1:47.00.
“I felt the hand of one of the good guys in my heat moving on me and I knew I had to get going and not wait until the final 200 meters,” Kemboi said. “I love my kick but if I had waited I might not have gotten to the final.”
Elahi hit her strides. She finished second in her heat with a 56.61 clocking, behind Ellen Wortham of Tennessee, who won in 55.67. Whatever happens in Friday’s final, the Omaha native will be an All-American. She never dreamed she would have run at this level when she was a high schooler.
“I thank God for getting me here,” Elahi said. “I saw Danielle Dowie of Texas, who has beaten me before and that helped me gauge where I was. I am so thankful to be an All-American, so much so that I was smiling as I crossed the finish line.”
Cyclone Ese Okoro finished with the 11th fastest time overall in the 400-meter prelims and did not advance to the final. Her time of 57.61 equaled the personal best she ran finishing second to Elahi at the Drake Relays.
Iowa State’s Ian Warner clocked a personal best 10.24 seconds to finish fifth in his heat. He got a good start and was a hundredth-second faster than what he clocked at the West Regional two weeks ago. He did not qualify for the final.
Iowa State action resumes Thursday with Cameron Ostrowski in the men’s high jump at 5:30 p.m. CDT. Cyclone Meaghan Nelson will compete in the women’s 10,000 meters at 8:45 p.m.
Iowa State Results:
Heat 3 Men’s 800m semifinal
1. Sowinski, Iowa, 1:46.09Q; 2. EDWARD KEMBOI, IOWA STATE, 1:46.20Q
Heat 1 Men’s 100m semifinal
1. Daniel Wesh, Virginia Tech, 10.15Q; 5. IAN WARNER, IOWA STATE, 10.25
Heat 1 Women’s 400m hurdle semifinal
1. Turquoise Thompson, UCLA, 55.59Q; 4. Eseroghene Okoro, 57.61
Heat 2 Women’s 400m hurdle semifinal
1. Ellen Wortham, Tennessee, 55.57Q; 2. KIANNA ELAHI, IOWA STATE, 56.61