Breaking Down the Girls Conference Track and Field Meets

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

MVC Mississippi Divisional

When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: West High

Teams: West High, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Linn-Mar, Dubuque Wahlert, Waterloo East, Waterloo West, Cedar Rapids Xavier

Team Title Chase: West High easily outdistanced runner-up Linn-Mar and third-place Dubuque Wahlert last season for its second straight divisional title and 16th MVC crown in the past 20 years. West High is the favorite on its home track on Friday but a third straight title will be anything but easy.

Linn-Mar is the top challenger, and the Lions are capable of knocking off West High but Dubuque Wahlert will score its share of points.

West High and Linn-Mar each enter with the top qualifying mark in seven events but it’s the Women of Troy’s depth and ability to double place in individual events that give them the edge.

Athlete to Watch: West High senior Bailey Nock won the distance trifecta at the divisional meet last season winning the 3,000, 1,500 and 800.

Nock is a heavy favorite in both the 3,000 and 1,500 on Friday but would likely have to battle Linn-Mar standout Payton Wensel for a second consecutive 800 meter crown.

Event to Watch: With individuals like Nock and Wensel in the field there may be events with better winning performances than the discus but few events could mean as much to the outcome.

West High enters with the top two qualifying marks from sophomore Alexie Little and senior Chandler Haight. The throwing events can be tough to predict but a 1-2 finish in the discus would give West High a big boost in the team race.

Don’t Miss This: Any time there is a chance to watch Wensel its something that shouldn’t be missed. The most outstanding female performer at the Drake Relays last week, Wensel enters the MVC meet with the top time in the state in both the 400 hurdles (1:00.25) and 800 (2:11.08) and the second best time in the 400 (55.55).

Breakdown: The Mississippi Valley Conference routine produces some of the state’s top teams but no MVC squad can match what West High has done in conference postseason meets for the past two decades. That postseason pedigree along with home field advantage and top-end talent across the board from the likes of Nock, Kitra Bell, Deniz Ince and Chandler Haight make West High the favorite for another MVC crown.

MVC Valley Divisional

When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Cedar Rapids Prairie

Teams: City High, Cedar Falls, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Cedar Rapids Washington  

Team Title Chase: Cedar Falls emerged from a balanced field to win the Valley Division title a year ago and enters as a favorite to make it two straight.

The Tigers will have plenty of competition to fend off for a second consecutive crown.

At last year’s meet runner-up Dubuque Senior and seventh-place Cedar Rapids Washington were separated by less than 40 points. Friday should be another balanced field with City High and Cedar Rapids Prairie among the teams poised to press for top two finishes.

Athlete to Watch: In her first year of track City High sophomore Caroline Schaeckenbach has become standout for the Little Hawks. Schaeckenbach enters with the top qualifying time in the 400 hurdles, the second-best time in the 100 hurdles and is a member of the City High 4x400 relay team that enters as the top seed.

Event to Watch: The final event of the night should be a battle between City High and Cedar Falls and it should be worth the wait.

The Little Hawks enter with the top 4x400 relay time at 4:04.06 but the Tigers are just off that pace at 4:04.31.

Don’t Miss This: Dubuque Senior senior sprint Stevie Lambe could chase the sprint title trifecta on Friday. Lambe enters with the top qualifying time in the 100 (12.61), 200 (25.84) and 400 (58.91).

Breakdown: City High was sixth last season with 68 points but was just 31 points out of the runner-up spot.

The Little Hawks should improve on that performance this season in what expects to be another balanced field from top to bottom.

All seven teams have at least one top seed with Cedar Falls entering with the top qualifying performance in eight events.

The Tigers have the top mark in five relays which gives them the edge in the team race.

WAMAC East Division

When: Monday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Solon

Teams: Solon, Anamosa, Dyersville Beckman, Central DeWitt, Maquoketa, Mount Vernon, West Delaware, Western Dubuque

Team Title Chase: The runner-up at the WAMAC Super meet each of the past two seasons, Solon was a legit contender to earn super meet gold.

With the change to the divisional format the Spartans become the clear-cut favorite in the East Division and boast home track advantage to boot.

Solon enters as the top seed in 10 events but it’s balance that makes the Spartans a heavy favorite.

Athlete to Watch: The strength of the Solon team is its balance and depth but if the Spartans are to win a team title they will need a big day from junior Erin Kerkhoff. The versatile Kerkhoff has the top qualifying time in the 400 (59.24) and 200 (26.27) and is also a big part of the Solon relay success.

Event to Watch: Solon sophomore Khaylor Fleck is the only athlete to go over 17-0 in the long jump this season and will have some competition in her quest for gold on Monday

Teammate Taylor Ryan has the second best qualifying mark at 16-9 ½ and two others have jumps of better than 16-7.

Don’t Miss This: The Solon 4x400 relay team has become a must watch over the past two seasons.

The Spartan foursome set a school record at the 3A state meet last year and clocked a seasons-best 3:59.63 while finishing fifth at the Drake Relays last week.

Breakdown: Weather concerns forced the postponement of the schedule co-ed Super Meet set for Thursday and the conference elected to go to divisional formats on Monday.

Solon is the heavy favorite in the east division with Mount Vernon and Anamosa chasing the Spartans.

There is no weakness in the Solon lineup. The Spartans are contenders in every relay and enter with the top time in the 4x400.

Solon has four individual top seeds in Emily Troyer (shot put), Khaylor Fleck (long jump), Erin Kerkhoff (200,400) and Gabbi Bullard (400 hurdles).

WAMAC West Division

When: Monday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Benton Community High School in Van Horne

Teams: Clear Creek Amana, Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Independence, Marion, Vinton-Shellsburg, Williamsburg, South Tama

Team Title Chase: Benton Community becomes a heavy favorite to claim the West with the switch to the divisional format.

The Bobcats were third at the Super Meet last season and with the top teams to finish in front of them (Mount Vernon and Solon) both headed to the East Division meet Benton becomes the team to beat.

Athlete to Watch: Clear Creek Amana sophomore Karsyn Stratton enters as the top seed in the long jump with a leap of 16-11 ½ and will play a role in the Clippers relay lineup.

If Clear Creek Amana is to improve on its 12th place finish and 28.5 points from a year ago it will be in part thanks to a big day from Stratton.

Event to Watch: Benton Community was the Drake Relays runner-up in the shuttle hurdle relay which makes the Bobcats a big favorite to win that event at the WAMAC meet.

The race is for second where Clear Creek Amana (1:13.11), South Tama (1:14.06) and Williamsburg (1:15.21) are all in contention.

Don’t Miss This: Clear Creek Amana sophomore Ainsley Schrock has the top qualifying mark in the discus and is the top candidate for individual gold for CCA.

A Drake Relays qualifier, Schrock has a toss of 127-9 this season, better than 17 feet further than the next best among WAMAC West competitors.

Breakdown: Clear Creek Amana won’t factor into the team race but the Clippers should improve on their 12th place finish and 28.5 points from a year ago.

Benton Community is the top seed in seven events including four relays.

Benton Community has a distinct advantage in the sprint events thanks to sisters Ellie and Elizabeth Masten and has the favorite in the 110 hurdles in Grace Martensen.

River Valley Conference

When: Friday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: West Liberty

Teams: Regina, West Branch, Bellevue, Camanche, Cascade, Durant, Mid-Prairie, Monticello, North Cedar, Northeast, Tipton, West Liberty, Wilton

Team Title Chase: Cascade pulled away to win the team title by more than 40 points over North Cedar last season.

No team should be able to break away from the pack this year in a team race that expects to be crowded at the top.

Defending runner-up North Cedar and Mid-Prairie expect to battle for the top spot while Cascad and Monticello can never be counted out of a RVC race.

Athlete to Watch: Regina junior Jaedynn Evans shouldn’t have a problem keeping busy on Thursday. Evans has top-three qualifying marks in both the 100 (13.11) and high jump (5-2) and could add the 200 as well as several different relays to her RVC workload.

Event to Watch: West Branch sophomore Jaylen Votroubek has the top qualifying time in the 400 hurdles at 1:08.9.

To pick up her first individual conference title Votroubek will likely need to hold off North Cedar senior Tessa Fields and Regina freshman Annie Gahan who has surged in the 400 hurdles over the past several weeks.

Don’t Miss This: The final conference meet in the brilliant prep career of Mid-Prairie distance star Anna Hostetler offers a final chance for RVC fans to see one of the state’s best.

Hostetler enters with the top time in the 800 (2:15.99), 1,500 (4:32.1) and 3,000 (9:52.49) as she attempts to add three more individual RVC titles to her career resume.   

Breakdown: It will be the depth and relay strength of North Cedar against the individual star power of Mid-Prairie in the race for the team title.

North Cedar has the top qualifying time in four relays and eight total events while Mid-Prairie sisters Anna and Marie Hostetler are the top two seeds by a wide margin in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000.

West Branch was sixth last season while Regina was 11th a year ago.