Fairfield’s Swanson ends season on high note
DES MOINES — As the stakes kept getting higher at the Iowa state track championships, Fairfield’s Jonny Swanson kept going faster.
Determined to end his prep career at his peak, Swanson had the year-long effort rewarded by placing third in the 110-meter hurdles and eighth in the 400 hurdles at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Setting personal bests in both races, Swanson ran a 14.88 in the 110 hurdles and shattered Fairfield High School’s record in the 400 hurdles with a 55.58 second finish.
“What an effort and what a finish for Swanson. He really performed better than I would’ve projected,” Fairfield head coach Brian Dunlap said.
Swanson seemed to exceed everyone’s projections but his own.
Swanson earned a spot in the 110-high finals with the fifth fastest preliminary time (15.17), but he aimed bigger and higher. The senior entered the state meet shooting for a top-five finish in the race, but once he finished fifth in the preliminaries, he moved his goal up to top-three for the finals.
“Once I found out that I was seeded fifth and was running with [Solon’s] Connor Ham, I was shooting for top three,” said Swanson.
And like Swanson did in the prelims, the senior once again met his goal in the finals. The Trojan led the race from about hurdle three to hurdle eight before being clipped by Ham and Harlan’s Austin Hess in the final 10 meters.
“I think it’s a pretty good way to end my senior career,” said Swanson. “I had a pretty good run today. I’m happy with it.”
The Fairfield senior wasn’t surprised with his finish in the 110-highs. What did surprise him, however, was his finish in the 400-lows one day earlier. Swanson, who entered the event seeded in the bottom half, shocked even himself with the medal-winning run.
“I was shocked I was doing that well, so I felt pretty confident going into this [110-meter hurdles],” said Swanson.
On Friday, he did it in the slow heat, beating the runner-up in his heat by nearly half a second. Southeast Conference foe Raheem Black of Fort Madison won the race from heat three with a time of 52.31.
“It probably ended up in his favor because he was in lane four of the slow heat instead of, say, lane eight of the fast heat. But it worked out for him mainly because he made it work. A really impressive run by him,” Dunlap said.
His previous best was a 57.51 set a week earlier, but on Friday he shaved nearly two seconds off his best to earn the first state medal of his career.
Dunlap said he converted the school record time down to 55.34 seconds. Matt Hempel held the previous all-time mark of 55.6 seconds, which he set at the state meet in 1996.
“Swanson didn’t get a chance to run the 400-lows as much as we would’ve liked this season, and it wasn’t until Friday that he put it all together,” said Dunlap. “What needs to be said about Swanson is he’s a testament to hard work. He’s done everything he could this season to get to where he was this weekend. It all paid off for him.”
Swanson also ran on Fairfield’s 20th-place 4x400 on Friday. Senior Dillon Fry set a personal best of 51 seconds on the leadoff leg, and sophomore Narendra Martin and Swanson came close to their personal bests. Senior Justin Hammes, who was nursing a hip flexor injury, anchored the race to a 3:31.96 time.
“Everyone had very respectable runs there,” said Dunlap. “Hammes wasn’t able to dial it up like he would’ve liked, but they beat their district time.”
Swanson scored seven points with his two place-winning performances to add onto the 10 points senior teammate Daniel Schwarz tallied with his win in the high jump Thursday. The 17 points placed Fairfield 18th overall in the team race. Pella won the team title with 46.
“Before going up to Des Moines I said it would be great if we scored 15 points, but we scored 17 and far exceeded my expectations. Overall it was a fitting end to a really good season,” Dunlap added.