Note: This story ran in the print edition of the Gazette Saturday, April 27.
DES MOINES — Jenna Higgins came oh-so close.
Excrutiatingly close — with a runner-up finish in the Drake Relays’ 100-meter dash as a freshman for North Scott.
Higgins kept dreaming of clutching one of those small white winner’s flags, so she worked and waited ...
“And waited and waited,” she said. “Eight years.”
Higgins, now a senior at Mount Mercy, saved her best for last Friday, sending the javelin 178 feet, five inches to win the university/college division in the event.
With it, came that flag — as vanquished athletes from schools such as Georgia, Missouri and Miami looked on.
“My first five throws were not very good and I was getting frustrated,” Higgins said. “So to be able to have a good throw on the last one, it really got to me. I was just so happy and so relieved because I really wanted this so bad. It’s my senior year. I’ve always wanted a Drake flag. And something happened. It all came together and it means so much to me.”
Higgins’ fifth “not very good” throw actually would have won the event.
Her sixth beat second-place Freya Jones of Georgia by nearly five feet.
So where does the flag go?
“A shadow box, maybe?” Higgins said. “Not sure.”
Mustangs assistant track and field coach Ryan Scheckel said Higgins may be the only college athlete in the country — if not the world — who can throw a javelin over 50 meters and run a sub-12 second 100-meter dash.
She stands out in other ways, as well.
“She’s also a leader and does a lot of little things that others don’t do, no matter what their ability level is,” Scheckel said. “So she’s been great for Mount Mercy — not only the track team but the school in general.”
The word “great” came to mind for Iowa thrower Majesty Tutson, too.
The former Iowa City High star not only won the university discus with a top toss of 181 feet, one inch.
Tutson, a senior, also beat a longtime high school rival — former West standout Taylor Freeman, who threw 175-0 for Arizona to earn second.
“I never beat her, ever, in high school,” Tutson said. “Even now, I competed against here for the first time in a couple years a couple weeks ago and she beat me by two feet. So I was really hoping to get her this time. It just feels good to kind of battle back.”
Tutson said she went to bed Thursday with a feeling something good would happen.“Hopefully I can go to Big Tens and do something special, too,” she said. “My goal is 185 so I’m hoping I can hit that (there). ... Hopefully I can keep up the good work.”