NDNDNDNDNDMATT LEVINS mlevins@thehawkeye.com Apr 26, 2024 Updated 1 hr ago. Photos by John Gaines

DES MOINES -- Katy Stephens lay on the turf on the infield of Drake Stadium late Thursday afternoon, exhausted after the 800-meter run.

It was the seventh and final event of the two-day heptathlon at the 114th annual Drake Relays.

Stephens ached from head to toe after giving every ounce of energy in her return to the blue oval. Then, as the University of Northern Iowa sophomore looked at the scoreboard in the northeast corner of the stadium, a broad smile came across her face.

Stephens had eclipsed the 5,000-point barrier, finishing fourth overall with 5,006 points.

It hurt so bad, yet it felt so good. For Stephens, it was priceless.

"Coming in today, a little bit rougher start in long jump and javelin. But I knew if I came out and ran a decent 800, it was still possible," said Stephens, a Notre Dame High School graduate. "It's always a relief to finish that 800. That's always my toughest one. It's also really rewarding because of how my much it hurts, especially coming around that last 200.

"It feels really good to know that it's worth it. It's paying off in the end. It's all really coming together still. I had a couple events that were a little shaky, so there's still a lot of room for improvement and grow, which is super exciting."

Stephens got off to a fast start on Wednesday. She finished seventh in the 100 hurdles in 14.80 seconds, was third in the high jump at 1.67 meters, placed sixth in the shot put at 11.18 meters and was fourth in the 200 in 25.43.

After finishing sixth in the long jump with a best of 5.41 meters and sixth in the javelin with a toss of 34.71 meters, Stephens knew what she had to do in the 800 to reach the magical 5,000-point plateau.

"Right before the race, I went up to my coach and said, 'If I run 2:35, I can get 5,000 points,'" Stephens said.

Stephens did just that, placing 11th in 2:35.52.

Stephens will run the shuttle hurdle relay on Saturday at Drake, and then turn her attention to the big meets at the end of the season.

UNI competes in the Missouri Valley Conference Outdoor Championships May 10-12 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

The NCAA West Preliminary Round is set for May 22-25 at Fayetteville, Arkansas."It's really exciting to know I didn't do my best in quite a few events, and I still reached my goal," Stephens said. "I feel like I have a lot left in me."