DES MOINES — Unleashing a throw on her second attempt of the Iowa Class 4A discus competition Thursday, Newton junior Sarah Kalkhoff achieved three goals — personal-best throw of over 140 feet, a new NHS school record and a state championship.
Kalkhoff’s throw of 140 feet, 11 inches on that second attempt put her out in front of the field. The pressure was off of Kalkholf and on the girls chasing her on an overcast morning at Drake University.
Kalkhoff’s throw stood up through the finals. She allowed herself a smile or two before she stepped into the throwing ring one last time.
“I’m just really happy,” Kalkhoff said winning the 2014 Iowa Class 4A State discus championship. “I love the tough competition, and to come in here as the third-best and coming out No. 1 feels so good.”
At about the same time Kalkhoff was setting the tone in the discus just outside of Drake Stadium, Newton teammate sophomore Grace Coen was setting her own school mark on the Blue Oval. Coen, who qualified for state in all three distance races, began her quest for medals in all three Thursday.
Coen collected the sixth-place medal in the 4A girls 3,000-meter race. She did so in a NHS school-record time of 10 minutes 12.18 seconds. Coen runs the 800 meters and the 1,500 meters on Saturday.
Newton’s boys had just one event Thursday. The Cardinals came up short of qualifying for the finals of the Class 4A 4x110-meter shuttle hurdle relay. Juniors J.T. Thongvanh, Jarom Williams and Deonne Harris and senior Levi Michener ran the race in 59.91 seconds, finishing 13th overall. The top eight teams moved on into Saturday’s final.
Also on the track, Newton’s senior Amber Karsten and sophomore Sydney Jenkins were in the same preliminary heat of the girls’ 200-meter dash Thursday. Karsten ran the race in 26.03 seconds and Jenkins finished in 27.15 seconds, placing ninth and 21st overall, respectively.
Kalkhoff said after not throwing well in the same ring during April’s Drake Relays, her father, Dave Kalkhoff, told her to make a vow to herself that she was not going to beaten the rest of the season. Kalkhoff finished the season undefeated and along the way she earned a Little Hawkeye Conference championship, a district championship and a state championship in the discus.
“That was my ultimate goal. To come out and accomplish it is tremendous,” Kalkhoff said. “This morning we went out with Coach (John) Patterson and we threw well. Michaela Bleeker did awesome today, too. I’m so glad I could spend one last state with her.”
Michaela Bleeker, a senior, concluded her season with a 16th-place finish in the discus with a throw of 103’2”. The two Newton girls have had back-to-back state trips together in the event.
Bleeker competes in today’s Class 4A shot put event.
“At the moment I released it, I could tell it was going to be a pretty good throw,” Kalkhoff said of her 140’11” heave. “I didn’t know how good but I knew. I’m glad I could do it soon in the competition then I was relaxed the rest of the way. Coming in here I wanted to be relaxed and chill and let my technique do the work.”
In her third consecutive state track meet, Kalkhoff was relaxed over her next four throws in the event. Second place went to Hope Koerperich of Dubuque-Hempstead at 134’4”. The 2013 champion, Erin Bramble of Waukee, finished fourth at 125’4”.
“I want to thank Coach Patterson and my dad for all the hard work they did with me this season. Also, my teammates have been great supporters and I love being around them,” Kalkhoff said. “This is such an amazing feeling. I took second here last year, My freshman year I didn’t place but I got the feel for it.”
Also today at the state meet, Newton’s girls will be competing in the 4A distance medley relay, the shot put, the 400-meter hurdles, the 4x200-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay. Newton’s Deonne Harris is the final competitor for the boys and he goes after a place in Saturday’s 110-meter high hurdles, running in preliminaries today at Drake Stadium.