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South Tama County siblings Tommy & JoJo Tyynismaa reunite at Drake Relays

PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER

DES MOINES — For the second year in a row, Tommy and JoJo Tyynismaa were able to share an experience on the Blue Oval at the Drake Relays in Des Moines.

Tommy, a South Tama County senior, finished fourth in the 800-meter run in 1 minute, 54.33 seconds. He stayed on the infield after his race to root on older sister JoJo, a 2022 South Tama grad now running at Wartburg College, to a 10th-place finish in the university/college 400-meter hurdles in 1:02.00.

“It’s convenient for our parents especially to not have to be in more than one place,” said Tommy, who recently signed with Iowa State track and field. “It’s just really nice and it means a lot.”

Tommy came into Friday’s race as the top seed in the 800, running 1:54.12 at an Iowa City West meet on April 13.

After 400 meters, he led the chase pack trailing early leader Caleb Ten Pas of Des Moines Christian, but couldn’t outkick the competition as Quentin Nauman of Western Dubuque turned in a 54.73 final 400 to win — Norwalk’s Tony Anania and Urbandale’s Tommy Hensley also finished ahead of Tyynismaa by less than a half-second.

PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER - South Tama senior Tommy Tyynismaa, far right, leads the chase pack halfway through the 800-meter run at the Drake Relays on Friday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Tyynismaa finished fourth in the race in a time of 1 minute, 54.33 seconds.

“I was feeling pretty confident with myself coming into this,” Tommy said. “But these guys are the best in the state, that’s why they’re here, so it was going to be a tough race no matter what. Ten Pas was really out there in front of us and I was really just deciding whether or not to go on the attack or wait until later in the race, which is what I did. It’s just one of those things you’ve got to learn a little bit.

“Better fitness would’ve helped a lot because no matter what kind of circumstance, you can get out of it with fitness. … I’ve still got three weeks left before state, so just keep putting in the work and go to training, get my legs stronger and quicker and get more confidence for state.”

Tommy said Friday was bittersweet, having hoped to qualify in more events or finish better in the 800, but attention turns to him and his teammates working toward the state meet later this season.

“Our 4–800 relay has improved a lot this year and should be in medal contention for sure,” Tommy added. “James [Brant] is looking really good in the mile, my buddy Cade [Rosenberger], he’s got his time down by six, seven seconds so he might be able to qualify in the 800, D-Med should be able to medal too, just a lot of our guys are getting faster, which is huge this year.”

JoJo’s finish in the 400 hurdles capped another busy day for her on the Blue Oval.

PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER - Wartburg College sophomore JoJo Tyynismaa takes the baton for her leg of the 4x100-meter relay during Friday’s Drake Relays in Des Moines. Wartburg’s quartet finished 11th in 47.92 seconds.

She started on Friday morning on the second leg of Wartburg’s 4–100 team that was 11th in 47.92.

“We switched up our order a bit this past week on that, but we were still able to run pretty close to our season’s best and had some really good handoffs going,” JoJo said.

A few hours later, she competed in the prelim round of the 100-meter hurdles, finishing 23rd in 14.38, and two hours later was back on the track for the 400-meter hurdles.

“I had a good start [in the 100] but felt a bit of the pressure of the field coming up on me after that,” JoJo said. “But it was really exciting to be able to run an open event in college at Drake, I hadn’t done that yet.”

JoJo is only the third-ever Wartburg competitor in the 100 hurdles. But she was really looking forward to returning to her favorite race in the 400 hurdles.

PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER

“I was excited to be able to run that again at Drake,” JoJo said. “There was a headwind at the end that was rough, but otherwise I did really fine.”

She also noted that she expects to be part of Wartburg’s 4–400 relay that qualified for Saturday’s finals after a seventh-place run of 3:49.43 in the prelims — JoJo was subbed out of the race that was run shortly after her competition in the 400 hurdles.

JoJo is enjoying sharing the experience with a sibling.

“I’ve had older siblings that have run here, but not at the same time,” JoJo said. “It’s just super cool to see what [Tommy’s] been able to do as a high schooler and then hopefully we’ll be able to run together when he’s in college, too.”