CEDAR FALLS — Now that schools are beginning to dive deeper and deeper into their track seasons, the athletes are starting to feel more comfortable in their events.
With a lack of early season practices due to a combination of extreme weather conditions and a lack of sufficient indoor facilities, it has taken a few meets for some of the runners, jumpers and throwers to find their form from last season. Senior Derrick Hurt’s early season comes to mind as one that has not disappointed, but not quite reached the lofty expectations laid at the feet of Newton’s three-sport star. That is, until Tuesday.
At the prestigious Dickinson Relays held at the University of Northern Iowa, Hurt had his two best throws of the season. Both of his mammoth hurls landed more than 52 feet from the circle, and they were more than enough for Hurt to secure the top spot on the podium.
“Well, I was just a little bit rusty starting out the season. So, I had my brother come over on Sunday, and we worked out some of the kinks,” Hurt said. “So, I’m throwing 52, which is my season best. It’s a good start, and I just want to keep building on that and keep throwing further. It was just little technique things. Having my brother help was nice.
Even though Hurt had just taken first place and thrown his best shot of the season, he expressed his excitement for when the season heads outdoors.
“I like throwing outside much more. It feels a little too congested in here,” Hurt said.
Hurt was one of just two field event competitors for the Cardinals in Cedar Falls, but they were well represented on the track. The first track competitor for Newton was sophomore Deonne Harris, who competed in the 60-meter hurdles as well as the 200. Harris left his opponents in the dust in his preliminary hurdle run with a time of 8.54 seconds. He followed that up with an impressive third-place finish in the finals (8.49), two-hundredths of a second behind senior Jon Rus of North Scott. Harris was the lone underclassmen to finish in the top five. His youth and speed give the Cardinals hope that they might have a state competitor in Harris. Harris also posted a solid time of 25.61 in the 200, finishing 53rd out of more than 100 competitors in the event.
The other field competitor for Newton was sophomore Jarom Williams, whose long jump of 18-03 placed him 34th out of the 67 jumpers in the event. Senior Dakota Hills had been scheduled to jump but chose to run the 400 instead.
Speaking of Hills, it seems he made the right decision as far as events are concerned. Hills finished fifth overall out of 115 athletes in the 400 with a time of 53.15. Hills may have found some comfort, competing alongside teammate and fellow senior Andrew Clements in the heat. Clements also had an impressive showing. He was clocked at 54.63, finishing 16th overall.
Newton had three competitors in the 800 as well. Sophomore Jacob Thomas was the fastest of the Cardinal finishers with a time of 2:13.55, placing him 34th out 103 runners. Not far behind him was freshman Cooper McDermott, 39th with a time of 2:14.99. Finally, junior Sean Cook placed 60th at a time of 2:18.74. All three Cardinal runners competed in the same heat.
Lastly, the Cardinal relay teams flashed very good speed in the 4x200, the 4x400 and the 4x800. Their most impressive race was the 4x400, in which they took fifth out of 36 teams with a time of 3:37.99. They finished 13th and 16th in the other two relays, respectively.
The other area team represented at UNI was Colfax-Mingo. which sent three boys to the Dickinson Relays.
First, senior Connor Hainer was penciled in to the 200, 400 and the long jump, but when his flight in the long jump and his heat in the 400 were being run at the same time, coach Matt Barkalow made the decision to let Hainer jump, and in hindsight, it was probably a good call. Hainer had a top jump of 21-9.5, placing him fifth overall out of 67 jumpers. That jump cleared his qualifying jump by nearly five inches.
Hainer earned his second top-five finish of the day when he competed in the 200. His time of 23.56 was less than half of a second behind the first place finisher, senior Royce Peterson of Iowa City West.
The other Tigerhawk on the track was senior Jaden Van Dyke, whose recovery from a foot injury limited him to competing in just the 800 rather than the 800 and the 400. Injury aside, Van Dyke ran a blistering 2:01.72. That time placed him third overall out of more than 100 runners.
“His time today was over 1.5 seconds faster than his time at UNI last year when he finished second in the 800,” Barkalow said. “Jaden is presently third in Class 2A in the 400 so far this year as well.”
The other field competitor for C-M was senior Chad McLain. McLain competed for the Tigerhawks in the shot put and had a very impressive set of throws. He finished 13th overall out of 77 throwers with a top throw of 45-00.
“All three boys represented our school well, and I was very proud of them all,” Barkalow said. “They competed head-to-head against much larger schools, and certainly held their own with some outstanding efforts.”