Despite an overall lack of practice and meets, 14 area competitors will get to show their skills on one of the biggest stages high school track in Iowa can offer.
Led by eight selections from the Newton boys and girls track teams, Jasper County will be well represented at the Drake Relays, which will begin high school competition Thursday morning.
Field events provide many of the area’s competitors, especially the throwing events. Newton senior Derrick Hurt and Collins-Maxwell-Baxter junior Zach Samson qualified for both the shot put and discus, which will be held on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and Friday at 9 a.m., respectively.
Hurt and Samson currently rank third and fourth in the state in the shot put and 18th and 16th in the discus, respectively. They will throw back-to-back in Flight 2 of the shot put on Thursday and just two throws apart in the discus Friday.
Newton sophomore Sarah Kalkhoff had some work to do to cement a discus spot in the relays, and she did just that at the Cardinals’ meet in Ames last Tuesday. Kalkhoff’s throw of 126 feet, 10.5 inches propelled her to the No. 11 spot in the state for the event, which will be held at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Rounding out the field events for the area competitors is Colfax-Mingo senior Connor Hainer, who will participate in the long jump Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. Hainer’s spot in the Relays was never really in question, as he currently holds the No. 11 spot in the state with a jump of 21-9.5 from the Dickinson Relays on March 19. Hainer also just missed qualifying in the 100-meter dash.
Moving to the track, Newton’s Grace Coen will add two more accomplishments to her already impressive career later this week. The freshman phenom qualified for the 800, which will run at 1:39 p.m. on Thursday, and the 1,500, which will run on Saturday at 1:02 p.m. While Coen was comfortably in the 1,500 with the state’s eighth-best time of 4:48.19, she grabbed the 16th and final spot in the 800 with a time of 2:18.69.
Rounding out the individual events for the area are three sprinters. Lynnville-Sully junior Meliek Meyer also had no doubt about qualifying for Drake as he still holds down the top spot in state for the 100-meter dash. In fact, Meyer actually dropped his time in the event by .22 seconds at a meet at BGM last week. Meyer will compete in the prelims at 8:46 a.m. Friday for a shot at Friday’s 12:28 p.m. finals.
In the 110 hurdles, Newton sophomore Deonne Harris and CMB sophomore Bryce Kemp both earned their way to Drake. Kemp currently holds the state’s fourth-best time of 14.80, while Harris is just behind at sixth with a time of 14.86. The 110 hurdle prelims will be held at 8:16 a.m. Friday, with the finals scheduled for 11:43 a.m. Friday.
Moving to the relays, the Cardinal boys qualified in two events, while Prairie City-Monroe had its lone qualifier in one. Newton’s 4x100 relay team will compete in prelims on Friday at 6 p.m., with the finals scheduled for Saturday at 3:15 p.m. The Cardinals 4x400 team will be under the lights for the 9:05 p.m. prelims competing for a spot in Saturday’s 4:32 p.m. finals.
Rounding out the area competitors is PCM’s 4x100 team of Mackenzie Clarke, Kelsey Townsend, Emily Hugen and Lexi Kain. Although the team found itself in the top 80 of the event for most of the season, it moved itself up to No. 68 with a time of 53.03 seconds at a meet in Bondurant on April 15.
The Mustangs will compete at 5:15 p.m. Friday in the prelims, with the finals scheduled for 3:10 p.m. Saturday.