Newton will be senior Derrick Hurt, who returns to state in the shot put and the discus. Hurt has been not only one of the best in his class, but also in the state this year in the shot put, and he won his regional discus event as well.
There will also be two Cardinal relay teams competing in Des Moines. The 4x400 team of Hills, Andrew Clements, Jarom Williams and Cody Maxwell is ranked 19th in the state with a time of 3:29.48, and with three seniors, it brings much needed experience when competing on the big stage in front of so many spectators.
‘The final boys’ qualifier is the shuttle hurdle team of Harris, Brandon Fisher, Jacob Bennett and Maxwell, whose best time of 1:01.97 occurred at Oskaloosa in late April.
The Cardinal girls will compete in 11 events at state, and much of the reason is a sensational crop of freshman girls.
Grace Coen has been one of the fastest girls in the 800 and the 1,500 all season long, and she will be one of the favorites to bring home a top-six finish in both events. Coen is one of just four freshmen in the Class 4A 1,500 meter finals. She is ranked third in the state in the 1,500 and 11th in the 800.
Another freshman competing this weekend for the Cardinals will be Sydney Jenkins.
On a team that is mostly represented in distance events, Jenkins has been a bright spot in the sprints. She qualified for state in both the 400 and the 200-meter dash. Jenkins has a season best time of 27.37 second in the 200, and her strong performance in Johnston for districts shows she can compete when the pressure is on. Her time of 1:00.10 in the 400 is 11th among 4A competitors in the state, and she will look to lock up a top-six spot this weekend as well.
Throwers Sarah Kalkhoff and Michaela Bleeker will both be competing in the discus. Kalkhoff has been one of the best discus throwers all season. She took sixth place at Drake Relays with a PR that day, and she has been on a fantastic pace ever since with PRs and nearly each meet since. She, like many of her male counterparts, is returning to state this year with the experience under her belt.
“I just really want to throw a PR again,” Kalkhoff said. ”The most important thing is to come out and just do as well as I possibly can because it’s the last meet of the year. It’s the time to let it all hang out. Last year at state, I was a little nervous. Drake was kind of a pre-state for me, so now I feel like I can throw well at state. Not being a freshman anymore gives me a lot more confidence. I just want to build on what I’ve done and keep performing.”
Bleeker also qualified for the shot put. Her throw at the district meet in Johnston was a PR for her, and gave her a ton of confidence going into state, where she hopes to set another personal best with a throw of at least 40 feet.
The rest of the qualifiers for the girls will be relay events. The 4x100 shuttle hurdle team, the 4x400 team, the distance medley team and the 4x800 team round out the qualifiers for the Cards.
The 4x100 shuttle hurdle team of Anna Barr, Taylor Graff, Baily Zaruba and Victoria Walton qualified with a time of 1:10.85 as did the 4x400 team of Jenkins, Alexis DesPlanque, Fisher and Amber Karsten. The 4x800 team (Karsten, Hailey Coy, Jenkins and DesPlanque) made it with a qualifying time of 10:06.59.
Events will kick off at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning.