Cards’ shot put, discus continue tradition of success
|The Newton boys and girls track team combined to send three throwers to the state track meet for a second straight season. (From left) Newton freshman Sarah Kalkhoff, junior Derrick Hurt and senior Courtney Meyer will compete in the shot put and discus on Thursday and Friday. Hurt and Meyer also went to state last year. (Mike Hockett/Daily News)|
Although high school track and field is obviously a team sport, it’s understandable how the shot put and discus throwers tend to isolate into their own faction throughout the season.
Most throwers don’t have the speed to also compete in events on the track, and they almost always practice and compete away from the rest of the team. The throwing rings for Newton Senior High School are about 70 yards behind H.A. Lynn Field.
“We’re kind of in our own little world over here,” Cardinals throwing coach John Peterson said at Tuesday’s practice.
It’s been working for Peterson and Newton for about 20 years now, and has paid off once again this season as three Cardinal throwers will compete at the 2012 Iowa State Track Meet on Thursday and Friday.
Junior Derrick Hurt will compete in the shot put and discus for the boys, senior Courtney Meyer will do the same for the girls, and freshman Sarah Kalkhoff also will take part in the discus.
The three continue a long line of success and a reputation for Newton throwers. Some of them include 1997 NHS graduate Reid Evans, 2007 grad Matt Graber and 2008 grad Tanner Hurt. Evans, currently the offensive coordinator for the Central College football team, held Central’s shot put record until Graber came along and broke it last year. Hurt, Derrick’s brother, is the current hammer throw record-holder at the University of Northern Iowa. He was a four-time discus conference champion in high school.
“Ever since some time in the 1990s, we’ve had a lot of really good kids come through the program and have a lot of success,” Peterson said.
After placing 15th at state in the shot put last year and second at the Drake Relays on April 27, Hurt has already joined that group of top Cardinal throwers and looks to add some hardware at state.
“It feels really good just knowing that this program has produced so many good throwers and that I’m part of it,” Hurt said. “One of the big reasons is that we have a really good coach. He knows what he’s doing and produces good throwers year after year.”
“John is amazing with the throwers,” Newton girls coach Rachel Tomas said of Peterson. “He makes it so they are improving when it really matters. He works outstanding with them.”
Hurt is one of the top contenders in the shot put, seeded second behind Urbandale junior Shaquille Wells — who narrowly topped him at the Drake Relays and most recently at districts. His career-best throw in the shot put is 54 feet, 11 inches, which he set at the relays.
Hurt was topping out at around 50 to 51 feet for the first half of the season before his distances received a major boost when he switched his throwing style from the spin to the glide in the week leading up to the relays.
“I was spinning through most of the season with the half-turn, and three or four days before Drake, I said, ‘Hey coach, can I try the glide?’ He said, ‘Let’s see how it goes.’ I threw 53 feet and it was like, ‘Maybe there’s something to it.’”
Hurt, who also took second in the discus at districts and is seeded 12th, could cement himself as the school’s top shot put thrower in recent history — with a year at NHS remaining.
“Derrick’s one of the best athletes in this school and in the state,” Cardinals’ boys coach Tyler Baethke said. “He shows that on the football field, on the wrestling mat and now in the (throwing) ring. I’m 100 percent confident that he’ll go out there and have his best throws of the year. It wouldn’t surprise me if he took home a gold. I really think it’s in his capabilities.”
Like Hurt, Meyer is making a return trip to state after placing 14th in the discus last year. At Thursday’s districts, she left no doubt she would qualify in the shot put by setting a new personal-best of 37 feet, 3.25 inches — which seeded her seventh.
Her discus was a different story. Her personal-best in that event is 115-8, but she nearly missed making the finals at districts and ended up with a disappointing best of 109-7, placing her fifth. She figured to be on the outside-looking-in for state.
“At that point, I didn’t think at all that I’d made it,” she said.
But when the qualifying list was posted at noon on Friday, it showed that Meyer got in as the 24th and final spot.
“When I found out, I was pretty surprised,” she said. “In a good way, though. I was very excited. When I threw 109, I was very disappointed because I’ve worked so hard for the past four years throwing disc and it was disappointing to end on that note. I’m glad I get to go back. I’m very appreciative that I have another chance. I’m going to take full advantage of it.”
It gives Meyer one last chance to break the school’s discus record of a little over 123 feet, held by her sister and 2009 NHS graduate, Caitlyn.
Someone else with an eye on that record is Meyer’s freshman teammate Kalkhoff. She’s seeded seventh in the event after placing third at districts with a season-best throw of 119-10. All four of her final throws at districts were season-bests, with her best one topping the mark she entered the meet with by eight feet. She’s less than four feet behind the record and has plenty of time to break it.
“I have both middle school records, and I’m hoping to have at least one of the high school records by the time I’m a senior,” she said. “If it’s this year, that’s great, otherwise it’ll be next year.”
Newton’s throwers are hardly the only ones competing at Drake over the next three days. Four other boys and nine additional girls also will be making the trip.
For the boys, junior Dakota Hills will compete in the 400-meter on Thursday night at 7:20 p.m. — the second-to-last scheduled event of the night. Also for the boys, the 4x400 relay team of senior Blake Tish, sophomore Jacob Walker, juniors Andrew Clements and Hills will run in the final event of Friday evening at 7:40 p.m. That same foursome ran at the Drake Relays, placing 19th out of 24 teams. It qualified for state at districts with a season-best time of 3 minutes, 25.0 seconds, which is the ninth-best time in Class 4A this season.
The Cardinals’ 4x100 team of senior Zach Roskilly, Tish, Clements and Hills was the team’s best events this season and ran at the Drake Relays, placing 47th. Even so, the Newton knew it wouldn’t get to state in the 4x100. And with three of those four runners also in the 4x400 — run only about 30 minutes later — the team elected to forgo running the 4x100 at the district meet to ensure the 4x400 would be well-rested and help its chance of qualifying.
“I knew we were going to need our best performance to get in,” Baethke said. “Our 4x100 time was a little further down the line. We felt our best chance to get in was to let them rest, come in as fresh as possible and run that 4x400.”
Will the Cardinal girls didn’t have anyone to represent them at the Drake Relays in April, they’ll be sure to make they’re mark this weekend at state.
Besides Meyer and Kalkhoff, Newton’s other individual participant will be freshman Anna Barr in the 400 hurdles — which runs on Friday at 3:40 p.m. Barr took third at districts in 1 minute, 7.24 seconds, which was a personal-best by 1.56 seconds and is the 11th-best time in 4A this season.
“To qualify as freshman, and to be seeded as high as they are as freshman — that’s amazing,” Newton girls coach Rachel Tomas said about Barr and Kalkhoff. “I’m excited to see what they can do at state and for their future.”
The Cardinals also will be represented by three relays: the 4x400, 4x800 and distance medley. The 4x800 team of junior Alexis DesPlanque, senior Ellen Colville, sophomores Amber Karsten and Carly Colville — which runs on Thursday at 4:50 p.m. The distance medley will be next, with the team of junior Victoria Walton, Karsten, freshman Taylor Fisher and DesPlanque running on Friday at 2:40 p.m. Later in the evening at 7, the 4x400 team of Karsten, Fisher, Ellen Colville and DesPlanque will run.
The 4x800 team qualified despite placing only fifth at districts, with its time of 10:04.50 being a season-best by nearly four seconds and the 17th-best in 4A. The 4x400 team also snuck into state despite placing fifth and a time a districts that was five seconds slower than its season-best. The distance medley team took fourth at districts, and its season-best time is 4:20.42 — 14th-best in 4A.
The fact that those relay teams qualified for state while placing only fourth or fifth at the district meet shows how good the competition was there. Newton was by far the smallest school at the seven-team meet that included three Des Moines City schools, host Urbandale, Johnston and Southeast Polk.
“Our district was extremely tough,” Tomas said. “Those Des Moines schools — they have a lot of top athletes. For our girls to keep fighting with them was outstanding.”
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