PELLA — Alyssa Shannon handled everything that was thrown at her during a Class 3A state qualifying meet on Thursday night.
From rallying her team in the 4x800 relay to getting boxed in and almost tripped in the 800-meter run, the Newton junior was up to the task.
Shannon claimed a pair of individual wins and anchored the 4x800 relay to a runner-up finish, leading a stellar night on the oval for Newton’s girls track and field team.
The Cardinals locked up four automatic state berths on Thursday and then was awarded two more state entries on Friday as part of the at-large selections.
The top two finishers in each event at every 3A state qualifier earned auto bids to the state meet. The next eight best times or distances also clinched berths.
“It was a stellar night of competition. Almost every girl had a season-best or personal-best,” Newton girls track and field coach Rachel Tomas said. “That was the goal coming into the night. We wanted to leave it all out there with no regrets. I couldn’t be prouder of the way they competed.”
Shannon will run in her first state meet in both the 800 and 1,500 and the Cardinal foursome of Ashay Malow, Kate Muckler, Grace Benson and Shannon also qualified in the 4x800 relay.
The fourth automatic qualifier came from the shuttle hurdle relay team which finished second.
Addy Terpstra anchored the shuttle hurdle relay team to a state berth then got good news on Friday when she learned she would be competing in two other events at state.
She’ll anchor the shuttle hurdle relay team on the blue oval and Newton also received an at-large state berth in the sprint medley relay.
The Cardinals finished fifth in the team race with 82 points. Pella won the meet with 154 points while Oskaloosa (126), Bondurant-Farrar (115) and Grinnell (93) completed the top five.
The rest of the eight-team field included South Tama County (59), Benton (57) and Knoxville (40).
The 4x800 relay team locked up the first guaranteed state meet entry.
The Cardinals were in third or fourth throughout the first three legs of the race, but Shannon rallied the group into second and then coasted around the track to conserve energy for her final two events. The relay team finished in a season-best time of 10 minutes, 20.58 seconds.
“I gave it more when I started because I knew I needed to catch her,” Shannon said. “I went hard but not my hardest at the end because I knew I had more races to go. We did what we needed to do to get to state.
“It feels even better to go with my teammates in a relay. That’s the best. And we are happy to get Ashay there in her senior year.”
Benson did her best to keep the Pella runner close on the third leg.
“I was just trying to hold on to the girl in front of me the best I could,” Benson said. “I was scared more for me because I wanted to get (Shannon) in a good position. When she’s out there, I have total confidence in her. She’s so good.”
Tomas said the 4x800 team did exactly what they needed to do to advance.
“I knew when she got the baton we were fine. She loves the chase,” Tomas said about Shannon. “The others’ jobs were to make sure we were still in it when she got it. We couldn’t give her the baton and expect her to do something amazing. They had to uphold their end. They did that and Alyssa sealed the deal.”
Shannon was equally impressive in the 800 later in the night. She got boxed in around turn 3 on the first lap and was nearly tripped by another runner shortly after.
She came all the way from the back of the field to take the lead at the beginning of the second lap. No one was catching her at that point as she won the race in 2:27.64.
“That was the first time that’s happened to me. It threw me off a little bit, but I knew I could catch them before the end of the race,” Shannon said about being boxed in and nearly tripped.
Shannon ran the 1,500 for the first time in her career three days prior to the state qualifier. That time was second among the rest of the field. That’s one of the reasons Tomas and co-head coach Rachelle Tipton put Shannon back in the event on Thursday.
“She also wanted to run it. There was a desire to do it,” Tomas said. “She has such speed endurance and she’s the queen of negative splits. She gets faster every lap.”
Shannon’s win in the 1,500 was clocked in a season-best 5:12.15.
The Newton girls had plenty of season-best times on the night.
It started with a season-best time in the sprint medley relay as the foursome of JaQuay Priest, Kynnedei Terpstra, Addy Terpstra and Chassidy Henwood finished third in 1:54.48.
The shuttle hurdle relay team included Alyssa Beerends, Priest, Chloe Rorabaugh and Addy Terpstra and their season-best time was clocked at 1:10.13. They were second in the event.
“We felt like we had a good shot,” Addy Terpstra said. “I think we knew this could have been our last meet so we stayed focused on what we had to do and gave it our best.”
The Cardinals were third in two events and both of them qualified for the state meet.
Addy Terpstra ran a season-best 16.27 in the 100 hurdles to qualify. She ran the 200 leg of the sprint medley relay that also earned an at-large bid.
Newton was fourth in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays and Gracie Clayton finished fourth in the 400 hurdles.
The 4x100 relay team of Priest, Kynnedei Terpstra, Libby Shores and Addy Terpstra finished in a season-best 52.17 but missed a state berth by .35 seconds.
The 4x400 relay foursome of Malow, Henwood, Muckler and Taylor Schilling ran a season-best time of 4:28.23.
Clayton’s fourth-place finish in the 400 hurdles was clocked in a season-best time of 1:13.35.
Willow Oswalt (season-best 12:58.29) and Kelsey Church (13:09.88) were 5-6 in the 3,000 and Jayden Lukefahr (season-best 100 feet, 3 inches) placed sixth in the discus.
The Iowa High School State Track and Field Championships will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
The Cardinals will compete twice on Thursday. The shuttle hurdle relay team runs in a preliminary at 9 a.m. while the 4x800 relay competes in a timed final at 11:20 a.m.
The shuttle hurdle team had the 12th fastest qualifying time while the 4x800 team comes in 18th.
The lone event for Newton’s girls on Friday is Addy Terpstra in the 100 hurdle prelims at 10 a.m. She enters the state meet with the 11th best qualifying time.
The sprint medley relay team competes in a timed final at 9 a.m. on Saturday. That foursome comes in with the 21st best qualifying time.
Shannon runs in the 800 at 9:40 a.m. on Saturday and then takes part in the 1,500 at 11:55 a.m. on Saturday. She has the 19th best qualifying time in both events.