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Local Sports

Newton's Coen posts best time in 3,000 meters at Drake Relays

Bleeker, Samson come up short in throws

DES MOINES — Overcast and damp were the conditions on the first day of high school competition at the 105th Drake Relays. Three area high school athletes were finding different results Thursday at Drake Stadium.

Newton sophomore Grace Coen, who qualified in three distance races for the 2014 Drake Relays, posted her personal-best time in the 3,000-meter run. Newton senior Michaela Bleeker and Collins-Maxwell/Baxter senior Zach Samson had tough times in the throwing rings.

Coen finished 14th in the 3,000 meters in 10 minutes, 26.22 seconds, which Newton girls’ head coach Rachel Tomas said was 11 seconds faster than her qualifying time in the event. Coen ran in a record-setting race as Linn-Mar sophomore Stephanie Jenks won the race in a new Drake Relays’ time of 9:26.87, breaking Katie Flood’s 2010 mark of 9:43.39.

“Grace ran a solid race today,” Tomas said.

Coen is back at Drake Stadium today run the 800-meter race at 1:38 p.m. Coen placed 12th in the 800 a year ago at Drake. Then on Saturday, Coen takes on the 1,500-meter field at 12:55 p.m. Coen set the NHS school record in the 1,500 meters, placing fourth at Drake last year.

Bleeker and Samson did not give any excuses for their sub-par performances Thursday in their respective throwing events. All the competitors had to deal with the wet conditions of the ring areas following rain most of the day.

Bleeker went into the girls’ shot put with a lot of momentum for success so far this season. She just “didin’t have it today” as she threw in her flight. Bleeker’s best throw of the day was 37 feet, 6 inches, placing her 15th overall.

“It just didn’t click today. I felt really good in warm-ups, throwing in the 39-foot range,” Bleeker said following not advancing to the finals of the shot put. “The weather wasn’t a factor and they had the ring dry, so, I just didn’t have it today.”

Shelby Gunnells of Solon won the girls’ shot put with a personal-best throw of 42’4 1/4”.

Samson wasn’t able to keep the discus from sailing out of bounds on each of his preliminary flight throws. He didn’t have fair toss in three attempts.

“It was an off day for me. I can’t blame it on the wet conditions because everybody had to throw in it,” Samson said. “I just didn’t look good in the circle. I could feel it, but couldn’t correct it.”

Samson said he would put the discus event behind him and focus on today’s shot put event. Samson is one of the top throwers in the state coming into the Drake Relays’ shot put competition, which began at 8:30 a.m.

Athletes from Newton, CMB, Prairie City-Monroe and Pella Christian compete today on the track in preliminaries and finals. Coen runs Saturday as does CMB’s Jordan Coughenour in the 400-meter hurdle final.

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