Designed to Win, West High Distance Medley Team Follows the Plan


Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – A lot goes in to putting together a lineup to try to win a team title at the state track and field meet.

There is strategy, conjecture and planning.

Some events are designed to place and add small points others are expected to win.

When West High coach Mike Parker began to put together his postseason plan he assembled a distance medley relay that was pegged as a winner.

The West High foursome of Valerie Welch, Kitra Bell, Peyton Steva and Bailey Nock did what they were designed to do on Friday winning the 4A title in a school-record time of 4:03.21.

“Coach put it together thinking that we could win this,” West High senior Valerie Welch said. “We have fast 200 runners, a great 800 runner and we said right away this is going to be a winning relay.”

The foursome ran together for the first time at the state qualifier last week and clocked the top time in the state this season at 4:06.39.

West High dropped more than three seconds off that time on Friday on its way to the ninth best time in state history.

“Prior to this Val was in shuttle (hurdle relay) and I was in 4x800 and we knew we could score from that but we also knew that we could definitely win this and hopefully get some points in those other two events,” Nock said. “When we all ran together last week we knew we could come here and win.”

Steva ran the opening 200 meters and Bell handed off to Welch for the 400-meter leg with West High in fourth place.

By the time Welch passed the baton to Nock she was just off the pace of leader Waukee.

I said it last year but Bailey is our finisher,” Welch said. “She is not going to back down and she is going to give it everything so I knew that even if I handed off to her and we weren’t in first it would be o.k.”

Nock clocked a 2:12.4 split to hold of Logan Akason of Waukee as the Warriors finished second in 4:03.49.

It was the first win in the event for West High since 2004.

“I knew that I had to bring it home,” Nock said. “If they were going to work their butts off to get me into position then I needed to do the same for them.”

It was the first career title for both Steva a sophomore and Bell a junior.

“This is my first state title and I’ve been thinking of this since I was a little kid,” Steva said. “I’m so proud of my teammates, this makes me so happy I can’t stop smiling.”

The win in the distance medley was the start of a strong day for West High which ended with West High on top of the Class 4A team standings.

Chandler Haight earned a runner-up finish in the shot put and West High double placed in both the long jump and 400 hurdles to push its leading 4A total to 62 points.

Defending state champion Waukee is second with 52 points entering the final day of competition.

“I know that the team needed points from me today,” Haight said. “I knew that I had to get team points today and that makes it even more special knowing that I’m helping the team.

Haight earned a medal in the shot put for the second straight season, finishing second with a toss of 42-3 ½.

Moe Nealey of Waukee won the title with a mark of 43-5.

“If I had to lose to someone I would definitely pick Mo because we have gotten so close over the last couple of years and I’m sad to see her go,” Haight said. “I wish I could compete with her one more year.”

West High got a double placing performance in the 400 hurdles as Welch finished third in 1:03.21 and Micaela Gravelin was eighth in 1:06.65.

The Women of Troy also had two placers in the long jump as Welch won with a mark of 18-5 ¾ and Kitra Bell was sixth at 17-0 ¼.

“When I made the finals all I was thinking was that’s points,” Bell said. “That’s what I am most happy for is us as a group, I really want us to win.”