Bershawn Jackson victorious in first race since father’s passing

April 30, 2016 9:30 AM

BY ADAM ROGAN

Bershawn Jackson standing with post-win white flag and bouquet. PHOTO BY MOHAMAD SUHAIMI | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Bershawn Jackson standing with post-win white flag and bouquet. PHOTO BY MOHAMAD SUHAIMI | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

For hurdler Bershawn “Batman” Jackson, winning the Men’s 400-meter hurdles on Friday evening at the Drake Relays for the second straight year meant more than just a great start to his 2016 season in pursuit of a return to Olympics for the first time since 2008. Jackson’s father, Jeffrey Felton, suffered a heart attack and passed away suddenly in October 2015 at the age of 53. Jackson returned to competitive track for the first time since at the Drake Relays on Friday night.

“He was my support team. He was my best friend,” Jackson said of his late father. “It was a tough break for me … To come out here and get a victory is bigtime. I was very emotional before the race, knowing my dad wouldn’t be here.”

Jackson’s competitive season was delayed not only because of his father’s death, but also because he’s been dealing with injuries. He didn’t start training until January, something that became apparent to him in the final stretch on Friday.

“At the ninth hurdle, I was dead tired. Didn’t get a great start like I normally do,” Jackson said. “When I got to hurdle number seven … I knew I had to get in the race. And I made a move a little bit too early and I paid for it at nine.”

“But I got a burst energy from somewhere.” Then, grabbing his necklace, he said, “think it came from here.”

About his neck Jackson wears a necklace whose pendant doubles as an urn that holds a portion of his father’s ashes. Jackson pledges to wear the necklace and urn in all of his races, continuing the presence that his father had in life. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Felton was the one who encouraged Jackson to run track as a child and had been traveling internationally with his son since 2005. Although he may have passed away, Felton still has a physical presence in Jackson’s career.

Perhaps Jackson is even more motivated now, refocusing on the qualifying for the Olympics in July’s trials.

Jackson finished in third place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles, but didn’t qualify to compete in London in 2012. He doesn’t want to miss out this year, especially since he is now 32 years old and his chances will be even more limited come 2020. Still, Jackson is confident in what he will be capable of this year.

“(My dad) will be with me on my journey to the Olympic games this year.”

“2012, I fell short,” Jackson said. “I got to redeem myself. This season, right here, 2016, is when I define my Batman legacy.”

To qualify the Rio Olympics this summer, Jackson will surely need to keep improving his time. In the 2008 Olympics, Jackson finished with a time of 48.06. On Friday he was more than a second slower, finishing at 49.30, less than a tenth of a second faster than 2012 Olympic silver medalist Michael Tinsley. But the narrowness of the win doesn’t make starting the season with a win any less motivating for Jackson, especially since it was his first meet of the season.

“I’m impressed with the win; great way to start my season out, lot to work on,” Jackson said. “My ultimate goal is to get past trials.”

Regardless of what may occur in the coming months, Jackson is happy with his current situation, holding to his faith, resilience and determination.

“I had mixed emotions, but one thing about me: I’m a competitor. I’m a warrior,” Jackson said. “I know I got a guardian angel over me and I got to continue to strive for greatness.”

Drake Relays: Vincent shines on Friday, Bulldogs use 4×200 to prep for Saturday

5:00 AM

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE BY ADAM ROGAN

Pierce Vincent cools down after his race. PHOTO BY MUHAMAD SUHAIMI | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Pierce Vincent cools down after his race. PHOTO BY MUHAMAD SUHAIMI | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

For the Bulldogs the Drake Relays, their second and final home event of the year, tough competition on Friday buried some of the team’s better performances.

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Kirani James, Shawn Barber, Nick Rogers win big on Hy-Vee Night at the Drake Relays

4:45 AM

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE BY ADAM ROGAN

Like most every year, the 2016 Drake Relays featured some of the world’s top athletes on the Blue Oval and in the field, and – yet again – they didn’t disappoint.

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Drake Community Press and Comparison Project author book on religion

April 27, 2016 10:00 AM

BY ANNA STEENSON

Hindu temples rising out of the cornfields, office buildings converted to Buddhist monasteries, gymnasiums used for Christian worship and basements of houses used for Muslim ceremonies are only some of the ways religious communities have found unique spaces for worship in Des Moines.

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Filling the stars: LGBT inclusion makes strides after creation of equity position

9:30 AM

BY KATHERINE BAUER

The creation of the Director of Student Engagement, Equity and Inclusion has created a “watershed moment in how the university approaches” LGBT inclusion, according to Tony Tyler.

Tyler, previously the director of Olmsted, moved into the new position at the start of the 2016 J-Term.

The need for the new position, and more institutionalized LGBT inclusion efforts, was demonstrated by the results of two surveys conducted recently at Drake.

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Largest student-run broadcast airs through rain or shine

9:30 AM

BY GERRY TETZLAFF

The word “broadcast” is commonly associated with TV or radio. People often think of professionals dressed in their finest, reading the events of the day, or they imagine the voices they have grown used to guiding them home through their car speakers. They picture TV studios with huge cameras and high ceilings dangling with hundreds of lights and radio studios with autographed posters and countless light bulbs and buttons on soundboards-these are the places where broadcasts take place. But not Drake Relays broadcasts.

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Students sense parking ticket difference

9:00 AM

BY JAKE BULLINGTON

To enforce parking regulations, Drake Public Safety (DPS) issues tickets. After three outstanding, unpaid tickets over a two week period or greater, DPS has the ability to tow vehicles when parked without a pass in a restricted parking area, like this Mini Cooper in the Olmsted lot. PHOTO BY JAKE BULLINGTON | DIGITAL EDITOR

To enforce parking regulations, Drake Public Safety (DPS) issues tickets. After three outstanding, unpaid tickets over a two week period or greater, DPS has the ability to tow vehicles when parked without a pass in a restricted parking area, like this vehicle in the Olmsted lot. PHOTO BY JAKE BULLINGTON | DIGITAL EDITOR

First-year Natalie Larimer’s Chevy Malibu can usually be found in the Drake Stadium lot, across the street from Herriott Hall. That is, of course, assuming there isn’t a football game or the Drake Relays taking place.

“(During) sporting events, my parking lot is always, always, always filled. I just don’t have a spot for my car,” Larimer said. “That’s a huge issue, especially because I have a job off-campus.”

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Band alumni return for fond memories and friendship

9:00 AM

BY HALEY HODGES

Sometimes, the roles students have in college will persist past their graduation. For former Drake University musicians, this means coming back to visit and play alongside their bands once again.

Some band alumni still reside in the Des Moines area and can easily visit. Those who have left Drake in the last few years and still have ties to some of the students who were their classmates during their time in band may also come back to play with them.

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Relays social media accounts sprint toward popularity

8:30 AM

BY SARAH HUBBARD

The Drake Relays cast a spotlight on Drake University each year, and as its popularity grows, so do its methods of promotion.

One easy way for people to promote themselves or their business is through social media. The Drake Relays used to televise press conferences to announce special events and the athletes taking part, but as time went on, it moved to different social media platforms. The Relays’ social media platforms are managed by Niki Smith, a social media specialist, and Tyler Patton, assistant athletic director for athletic communications.

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Environmental Action League urges Drake to divest in fossil fuels

8:30 AM

BY ANNA STEENSON

The Drake Environmental Action League (DEAL) brought a divestment referendum to Student Senate on Thursday, urging Drake to divest in fossil fuels.

Senate passed the motion in support of the referendum.

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Steeplechase obstacles test athlete endurance, skills

8:00 AM

BY MARIAH LEWIS

It’s a track and field event Drake University assistant coach Dan Hostager says “everybody flocks” to. But not everybody knows what it is.

“Some people have really weird ideas about what it is,” said Rob McCann, the only athlete on the Drake University track team who consistently competes in the event.

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