Despite having just seven combined qualifiers for Drake Relays, the track teams from Colfax-Mingo, Collins-Maxwell-Baxter, Lynnville-Sully and Prairie City-Monroe gained plenty of attention and accolades over the weekend.
On top of three top-eight finishes, the six area competitors picked up invaluable experience and took additional steps to returning to Drake Stadium for the state track meet in May.
Perhaps no competitor in the field had more to gain than Colfax-Mingo senior Jaden Van Dyke. After initially missing out on qualifying by one spot in the 800-meter run, Van Dyke received the word last Wednesday that he would indeed be competing after another athlete dropped out. It’s fair to say he made the most of the opportunity.
Van Dyke used a strong kick down the final straightaway to take sixth in the 800-meter run and earn a personal-best time of 1:58.95. After battling an illness earlier in the season and having plenty of meets called off, Van Dyke proved why he’s considered a contender for the Class 2A 800 title.
“It was awesome. I know a lot of the guys I raced against, so it was just good to come out here and compete,” Van Dyke said. “We’ve had a couple track meets get canceled and I only have about three 800s under my belt, so it was fun to come out and actually get a good race in.”
Fellow C-M senior Connor Hainer has been on a mission in the long jump this season after missing nearly all of last year with an ACL injury. Hainer also reaffirmed his contender status on Friday morning, taking eighth in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet, 11.75 inches.
Although Hainer fell just short of his goal distance of 22 feet, his top-eight finish more than made up for it. After hitting 21-10.25 in his first jump of the day, Hainer appeared primed for a top spot. He reached his eventual best jump on his third attempt, but Manson-Northwest Webster’s Josh Markert took the flag with a jump of 22-8.25.
“I was ranked 11th and I finished eighth, so I’m pretty pumped. These guys are all really good,” Hainer said. “I wanted to have fun, but also compete. There are people better than me, so competing with them is my main goal. I just need to work on doing better and better.”
Following his fourth-place finish in the shot put on Thursday, CMB junior Zach Samson returned to the throwing area for the discus on Friday. Samson ended up 20th in the competition with a top throw of 141-6. Samson will likely return to Drake for state in the shot put and possibly the discus, but his first attempt at the Drake Relays appeared to leave a mark on him.
“It was a great experience. There was a really good vibe down here and a lot more people than at the state meet,” Samson said. “It’s different down here compared to a normal meet setting, so you have to get used to that, but I would say I threw pretty well for what I was going into.”
Competing less than an hour before Samson was his teammate, sophomore Bryce Kemp, in the 110 hurdles. After going stride-for-stride with the rest of the runners in his heat, Kemp clipped a hurdle right near the end of the race and finished sixth in his heat and 15th overall with a time of 15.64. Whether it was nerves or just a minor slip, the first-time qualifier already has his sights set on the future.
“I felt really good until I hit the ninth hurdle and stumbled a bit, and that’s when everyone passed me,” Kemp said. “It was a good field and everyone was neck-and-neck, so that one hurdle just hurt me. Hopefully I’ll be back here at state and I’ll try not to hit any hurdles.”
Perhaps the toughest miss of the finals for area competitors went to Lynnville-Sully junior Meliek Meyer in the 100. Coming into the event as the state leader, Meyer battled a head wind and finished third in his heat with a scoreboard time of 11.51.
Although the time appeared to be good enough to advance, Meyer was edged out by just .04 seconds by Iowa Falls-Alden’s Brandon Norman, who recorded a 11.501 to Meyer’s 11.5105.
“This truly was a great race,” Lynnville-Sully coach Mike Parkinson said. “Meliek competed at the highest level and the difference between between him and first was literally the blink of any eye. We are very proud of Meliek and this experience is invaluable for him as he prepares for conference, districts and the state track meet.”
Rounding out the area’s competitors were a pair of 4x100 relay teams. Consisting of senior Malin Meyer, junior Jacob Walker, junior Bailee Samson and Meliek Meyer, the Hawks’ second qualifiers finished second in their heat and set a season-best time of 44.35, but were left out of the finals in an extremely competitive field.
The lone girls team from the area to qualify for Drake was PCM’s 4x100 team of sophomore Mackenzie Clarke, senior Kelsey Townsend, freshman Emily Hugen and junior Lexi Kain. The Mustangs finished 65th overall in the event, but dropped their seed time from 53.03 to 52.95.