DES MOINES — On a warm, summer-like day with the harsh sun beating down on Drake Stadium, some of Newton’s best athletes shined brightly as well. The Cardinals had nine representatives competing on Day 1 of the state meet, and several solid performances were the result.
To start off the day, sophomore Sarah Kalkohff took second place in the girls Class 4A discus finals. She returned to Drake following a sixth place finish at the Drake Relays last month, and it was clear she took comfort in throwing in a familiar setting. Kalkhoff’s throw of 133 feet, 1 inch edged out Chloe Miller from Pleasant Valley by two inches to cap off a spectacular sophomore season for the Cardinal thrower.
“First would have been better, but second is still great,” Kalkhoff said. “I haven’t thrown in the 130s very many times, so to come out to state and do it is really nice. I had good footwork, and if I could have put my footwork with my second one and the release with the first one, they would’ve been much stronger throws.”
Also competing in the discus was Newton junior Michaela Bleeker, who finished 24th in the event. Kalkhoff will undoubtedly be one of the contenders to take home the state title next season. She credited her experience these last two years for her outstanding performance on Thursday.
“Last year I was really nervous at state, and Drake this year,” Kalkhoff said. “But when I performed well there, I told myself that this would be just another meet.”
Competing at the same time as Kalkhoff was the girls shuttle hurdle relay team of junior Taylor Graff, sophomore Anna Barr, senior Victoria Walton and junior Bailey Zaruba. The team had a time of 1:11.70 and finished 18th overall among the 24 teams.
The next competitors to represent the Cardinals were the girls on the 4x800-meter team. That team consisted of senior Alexis DesPlanque, sophomore Hailey Coy, junior Amber Karsten and freshman Grace Coen, and it was also able to finish 18th out of the 24 teams.
Those two teams lose a combined two athletes coming in to next season, which indicates that they may be back at Drake next season to represent their school once again.
Following the girls 4x800, senior Derrick Hurt stepped into the discus circle for the Cardinals following his win at the district meet in Johnston. Hurt finished in 12th place in the Class 4A finals for Newton with a throw of 146-01. Hurt will end his career in the shot put circle on Friday. That event will kick off at 11:30 a.m.
Freshman Sydney Jenkins had the next two events for the Cardinals. She qualified for the 200 and the 400. In the 200 prelims, Jenkins ran a 27.45 and finished in eighth place in her heat. Her time placed her 22nd out of the 24 runners. Jenkins had a more impressive showing in the 400, where she ran a tad over one minute at 1:00.34, good for 16th. She was one one-hundredth of a second behind 15th place and less than one second behind 12th. Jenkins did not quite reach her goal for the day, but was still very encouraged with her performance, especially after what she considered a disappointing 200.
“I was going for under one, but I’m still really happy with the time I got,” Jenkins said. “At first I was really nervous with everyone here, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. I knew I couldn’t let how I did in the 200 affect how I did in the 400, so I had to shake that one off.”
Newton senior Dakota Hills was the next Cardinal participant as the seasoned veteran took to the track for the 400 finals. Hills finished in 15th place (50.58 seconds) in one of the most tightly-run races of the day. He finished second in his heat and was a half-second behind a top-8 finish.
The final competition involving Newtonians on the day was the Class 4A shuttle hurdle relay prelims. The team of senior Cody Maxwell, junior Brandon Fisher, freshman Jacob Bennett and sophomore Deonne Harris finished third in its heat with a time of 1:01.39. That time placed the team 13th overall.
Newton will send seven more competitors to the state meet today, which kicked off with Michaela Bleeker in the girls shot put, Hills in the long jump and the girls distance medley team all starting at 9 a.m.