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Drake Relays: Doris topples two obstacles en route to flag

BY CODY GOODWIN | APRIL 30, 2012 6:30 AM

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DES MOINES — You'll never see a bigger smile on Troy Doris' face.

He was down to his final chance in the 2012 Drake Relays triple jump. He and Florida's Omar Craddock had gone neck and neck throughout the event, though the Gator had led most of the way.

The sixth and last round saw the rest of the field jump but not match the distances of Doris and Craddock. The duo's closing leaps would decide who earned the championship.

The senior Hawkeye lined up just as he had before every other jump he had performed on April 28 and went through his pre-jump ritual. But this time, he seemed more relaxed — he smiled before he ran down the track.

"I really try to keep my emotions in check," he said. "All I can do is control myself."

Doris was in full control of his final jump, one he said he knew was special the moment he took flight. The Drake Stadium stands filled with oohs and aahs and ultimately cheers. Doris reached 16.41 meters (53-10.25 feet).

That mark pushed Doris from fifth to third in the nation in the triple jump, and more importantly, passed Craddock for first place by .01 meters, or a half-inch.

Craddock fouled on his final jump, securing Doris' victory. The Hawkeye fan section erupted with screams and shrieks of joy. Assistant coach Clive Roberts pointed his finger to the sky and pumped his fist with excitement. And Doris broke into a small victory dance — it was the senior's first-ever Drake Relays title.

"I was real happy to do it in front of the Iowa crowd," Doris said. "I finally got my flag and all that cool stuff … I won the Drake Relays, and I won one for Iowa. I just couldn't hold it in."

Doris' victory over the NCAA indoor-triple jump champion halted Craddock's attempt at a third outdoor relay event title. The Gator had previously won the 2010 and 2011 Penn Relays, and came to Drake in hopes of seeking out good competition. He entered the competition as the second-ranked triple jumper in Division-I track and field.

Craddock spoke highly of Doris, and he described how the two athletes push each other when they compete together. The triple jump is an exciting event, he said, and any winning jump can happen at any time.

"Coming in second is always disappointing, especially because I knew I had [the winning jump] in me," Craddock said. "[Troy] is a phenomenal jumper and a great guy. The thing about our event is that you can never stop. You always have to work hard, and anything can happen."

Doris agreed, and he also spoke highly of the competition at Drake. He said he didn't let the hype get to him because he had to attack the field.

Doris also noted that all of the triple jumpers push each other — they're arguably the best overall athletes in the sport. He said competing with Craddock is always a good experience, and he'll be ready to battle him again at the NCAA championships in June.

"[Craddock] comes out here real cool and relaxed," Doris said. "He's unpredictable, so it keeps me on my toes. We have a lot to work on, he and I. There's going to be a lot of surprises between the two of us."

The Hawkeye wasn't joking about surprises — he had one of his own on April 28. Doris had tape wrapped around his right knee, choking the muscles around his patella. He injured his kneecap a week before the Drake Relays and didn't get the OK to jump until after his warmups.

Doris said his confidence was sky-high when he nearly set a new personal best with an injured knee, and that it's just another thing he had to work through in order to win his championship flag.

"God has given me some good tools right now for me to work with," he said. "I can't take anything for granted right now."

That type of performance is one that impressed head coach Larry Wieczorek — it was one that stood out to a head coach that loves to put the emphasis on his team.

"I always like to focus on team," the head coach said. "But this weekend, individuals stood out to me.
"Troy was one of them."

Follow DI track and field reporter Cody Goodwin on Twitter.


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