DES MOINES — With a wild season full of weather cancellations and sporadic competitions finally coming to a close, the Newton track teams can look back and feel a sense of accomplishment.
The Cardinals had 18 qualifiers competing under the red and black at the state meet in Des Moines this past weekend, with nine competing on Friday and Saturday.
The highest finishing Cardinal at the state meet was not surprisingly senior Derrick Hurt. Hurt was the runner-up in the shot put to fellow class 4A thrower Shaquille Wells of Urbandale back in April at the Drake Relays. Coming into the state meet, Hurt had his sights set on finally getting his coveted state title. Even though Hurt took second with a throw of 55 feet, .75 inches, it was still a tremendous way to cap off his athletic career for the Cardinals.
“I’m pretty satisfied with how I threw,” Hurt said. “Throwing 55 feet on any day is a pretty good day. I was hoping for a PR, but you can’t throw a PR every single time. I’m pretty happy with getting 55 and getting second. Shaquille is just a really good thrower. He’s really strong and really fast. He works really hard just like everyone else here. It’s kind of cool to see a person, especially one I know and have competed with, get a 59 and win it. The only other thing that I wanted to get in my career was a state title, and I wasn’t able to do that. Other than that, I achieved everything I wanted to in my career.“
Hurt threw at several state meets and Drake Relays over his four years as a Cardinal. After throwing at Drake Stadium six times in all, it’s no wonder Hurt felt comfortable on Friday.
“I’ve grown to be very comfortable throwing at Drake Stadium just because this is my sixth time throwing here, so it’s become a pretty regular thing,” he said.
The second-highest finishing Cardinal competing in Des Moines was freshman Grace Coen’s fourth place finish in the 1,500 final. Coen has had a terrific season for Newton, and after a tough race in the 800 earlier on Saturday, she was able to pull it together for a strong finish of 4:44.28 in the 1,500.”
“I really wanted to get top four, and it was a hot, windy day, so I’m happy with the result,” Coen said. “I saw most of the other runners at Drake, but that was really the only time I’ve seen them. I sort of had to memorize what their tactics were at Drake and hope they stayed the same this time. My first couple races weren’t the best, but I’m glad I could pull myself together to get this one.”
Coen had hoped to do the same in the 800 a few hours earlier. She had a tough race in which she was shuffled back and forth in a very fast and tightly packed field. Her time of 2:18.27 placed her 13th. Even so, Coen was very pleased with her year when given the chance to reminisce on the season.
“That wasn’t as nearly as fast as I had hoped for,” Coen said. “I’m not really sure what I expected coming into the season to be honest. As a freshman, I just wanted to come out and do my best. This season as a whole has been pretty decent. I’m happy with it. My parents, family and coaches just kept pushing me during practice. That’s what helped me in the long run, having more practices where I could make my body stronger. This season has gone by so fast. It’s phenomenal. I don’t want to plateau. I want to keep getting better.”
The Cardinal boys had four more events take place on the second day of the state meet. Sophomore Deonne Harris ran the 110-meter hurdles for Newton. Harris had been one of the best hurdlers in Class 4A this season, but being the youngest runner in the field and its only sophomore may have been too much competition for him to handle. Harris finished 17th overall in the event with a time of 15.72 seconds. Compare that to his season-best time of 14.86. The wind as well as a clipped hurdle had something to do with Harris’ slower than usual time. He will look to improve in what he hopes is a return to state next season.
Senior Dakota Hills competed in three events for the Cards over the weekend. After finishing 15th in the 400 on Thursday, Hills was all set to hit the long jump pit on Friday. He finished 14th in the event with a jump of 20-2.25 coming on what turned out to be his final jump as a Cardinal. Hills also ran the second leg for the Cards’ 16th-placing 4x400 team, which also consisted of seniors Andrew Clements and Cody Maxwell as well as sophomore Jarom Williams. That team finished with a time of 3:28.10.
As for the remaining three qualifiers for the Cardinal girls, junior Michaela Bleeker fell short of her goal of a 40-foot throw, and she was unable to match her throw of nearly that far at districts. Bleeker’s throw of 35-8 placed her 12th and was about a foot short of making the finals. Despite her throws at state, Bleeker had an outstanding season for Newton, and she will, in all likelihood, be returning to Des Moines next year for the Drake Relays as well as the state competition.
The final qualifiers for Newton were the distance medley team and the 4x400 team. The distance team of junior Amber Karsten, shophomore Taylor Fisher, Coen and freshman Leela Spencer finished 12th overall with a final time of 4:14.36. Meanwhile, the 4x400 team took 20th with a time of 4:10.37. It consisted of freshman Sydney Jenkins, Fisher, senior Alexis DesPlanque and Karsten.