Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
Four classes with 19 events each over a span of three days.
That’s the numbers for the state track and field meet that opens on Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines and runs through Saturday afternoon.
With so much going on in and around Drake Stadium during those three days here is a quick breakdown of the area teams competing this week.
Individual events qualified: Seven (200, 800, 1,500, 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, long jump, shot put)
Relays qualified: Three (4x200, 4x800, shuttle hurdle relay)
Athlete to watch: After narrowly missing a Drake Relays title in the 100 hurdles Peyton Steva returns to Drake Stadium with her sights set on state gold.
A four-event state qualifier Steva has been among the most improved athletes in the state this season.
Steva was 15th in the 100 hurdles last season but enters with the second fastest time in the state this season at 14.33.
She also has the sixth fastest 200 time from state qualifiers and is on the third-seeded West High shuttle hurdle relay team.
Relay team to watch: West High was fourth in the shuttle hurdle relay a year ago and will look to improve on that finish this season with three members of last year’s team returning.
Steva anchored West High to a title in the event at the state qualifier last week in a season-best time of 1:03.93 that ranks third best among state qualifiers.
Freshman lead off runner Ella Woods missed time with an injury but ran a personal best time in her return at the state qualifier.
Outlook: Injuries hit two-time defending 4A runner-up West High hard this season but the Trojans are still in position for another strong finish at the state meet.
West High qualified 10 events for state and has top-six seeds in five of those events.
Steva is a title contender in the hurdles while junior Salima Omari should be in the title hunt in the shot put entering with the third best mark in 4A this spring at 42-1.
Katie Severt returned from injury to post the sixth best long jump performance at state qualifying meets and the Women of Troy have a pair of top-10 relays with its shuttle hurdle and 4x800 squads.
Individual events qualified: Five (3,000, 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, high jump, long jump)
Relays qualified: Seven (4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800, shuttle hurdle relay, sprint medley relay, distance medley relay)
Athlete to watch: Over the past year junior Caroline Schaeckenbach has emerged as one of the top hurdlers in the state.
The Drake Relays runner-up in the 400 hurdles, Schaeckenbach enters the state meet with the top time in 4A this season in the event at 1:04.5 and also owns the eighth best time in the 100 hurdles at 15.01.
A four-event qualifier for the first time, Schaeckenbach is a member of a pair of Little Hawk relay teams that enter with top-six seeds.
Schaeckenbach is a part of the City High shuttle hurdle relay team that had the fourth best time at state qualifying meets and the Little Hawk 4x400 team that enters seeded sixth.
Relay team to watch: City High brings all seven of its relay teams to the state meet and has three ranked in the top six off state qualifying meet performances.
The Little Hawks’ distance medley relay team is one that is set up to score points for the Little Hawks.
Emma Cooper, Emma Clark, Ayana Lindsey and CeCe Kelly-Harvey teamed up to clock a 4:14.87 at the state qualifier good for fourth fastest among state entries.
Outlook: City High won the team title at the state qualifier last week finishing in front of Liberty High and West High.
The Little Hawks will look to give outgoing coach Terry Coleman a proper sendoff with a strong three-day showing at the state meet.
City High qualified 12 events for the state meet and has top-10 seeds in half of those events.
The Little Hawks will look to do most of their damage in the relays with all seven teams qualified.
The City High 4x400 relay team is seeded sixth while the distance medley and shuttle hurdle relay teams each have the fourth fastest time from state qualifiers.
Individual events qualified: Seven (400, 800, 1,500, 3,000, 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, discus)
Relays qualified: Six (4x100, 4x400, 4x800, shuttle hurdle relay, sprint medley relay, distance medley relay)
Athlete to watch: Ashlyn Keeney announced her presence on the state-wide seen last month with an impressive Drake Relays debut.
The freshman phenom returns to Drake Stadium this week planning to punctuate what has already been an impressive season.
Keeney has the top time in the state in both the 1,500 and 3,000 this season and won the Drake Relays in the 3,000 last month.
She ranks second in in the 800 and runs the 800-leg on a Liberty High distance medley relay team that enters with the second fastest qualifying time.
Relay team to watch: Having one of the top 800 runners on the state on the back end can turn any distance medley relay team a contender but the Liberty High foursome is coming together at the right time.
Chaise Lange, Tayshauna McGee, Carlie Schroeder and Keeney clocked a 4:13.11 at the state qualifying meet, second only to the 4:11.15 run by Southeast Polk.
Outlook: The addition of Keeney and a strong group of supporters has Liberty High threatening to push into the trophy conversation in its first season in Class 4A.
Keeney has shown the ability to rack up points in individual events but has help.
Liberty High qualified an impressive 12 events in its second varsity season including six relays.
Sophomore Cami Mac was a state medalist in Class 3A last year and enters with the sixth fastest qualifying time in the 1,600.
Miranda Jones enters with the eighth best qualifying mark in the discus and junior Taylor Cannon is a Drake Relays finalist with the third fastest time in the 100 hurdles this season.
Individual events qualified: Two (3,200, discus)
Relays qualified: One (Shuttle hurdle relay)
Athlete to watch: Defending 3A state champion Ainsley Schrock needed an at-large bid to reach the state meet after placing fourth at the state qualifying meet but has shown the ability to come up big at the right time.
Schrock unleased a career-best throw of 132-4 on her way to winning the 3A title last season, more than four feet further than her previous career best.
This season Schrock has the sixth best throw in 3A this season at 128-8. Oskaloosa freshman Faith DeRonde has the top mark in 3A this season at138-9.
Relay team to watch: For the second straight season the Clippers qualified a relay team for the state meet with the shuttle hurdle relay team getting a bid as an additional qualifier.
The foursome of Emma Mathis, Kayla Jiras, Meghan Cullen and Cileigh Smiddy rank 22nd entering the state meet.
Outlook: The Clippers qualified three events for the state meet behind Schrock in the discus and senior Kaylie Barker in the 3,200.
Barker enters with the 20th fastest time from qualifying marks while Schrock’s toss of 116-1 from last week’s state qualifier was 16th best.
Individual events qualified: 10 (100, 200, 400, 800, 3,000, 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, high jump, long jump, discus)
Relays qualified: Seven (4x100, 4x200, 4x400, 4x800, shuttle hurdle relays, sprint medley relay, distance medley relay)
Athlete to watch: Erin Kerkhoff has been a cornerstone of the Solon program for four seasons and will attempt to end her high school career with a team trophy.
Kerkhoff is seeking a third consecutive state medal in the 400 and enters with the fifth fastest time in 3A this season.
She will be key in the Solon relay success, running on the Spartans’ 4x100, sprint medley and 4x400 relay teams.
Relay team to watch: Don’t be fooled by the time from the state qualifier the Solon 4x400 team is fully capable of winning a 3A title.
The Spartans have been runner-up in the event each of the past two seasons and enter with the 20th best time from state qualifying meets but will be in the title chase on Saturday.
Solon has run a 4:01.79 in the event this season, just .40 off the top time in 3A this season by Sioux City Heelan.
Outlook: It has been five years since Solon earned a state tournament team trophy but the Spartans have the depth to be in the thick of the 3A title chase all the way into Saturday.
Solon qualified an impressive 17 events for the state meet, including all seven of its relays, and has seven events with top-eight qualifying marks.
Relay points will be a key for the Spartans.
The sprint medley relay enters third, the 4x100 and 4x200 are both fifth and the shuttle hurdle is seventh off state qualifying times.
Solon also expects big things from its 4x400 relay team and can get individual points from Erin Kerkhoff in the 400, Emma Bock in the 800, Kiersten Conway in the 3,000, Gabbi Bullard in the 400 hurdles.
Keep an eye on the field events where the Spartans have Elli Becicka and Ava Conrad in the discus, Makinley Levin and Khaylor Fleck in the long jump and senior Abby Smith in the high jump.
None of the field event qualifiers are seeded better than 13 but Solon has the talent to add valuable points in those events.
Individual events qualified: Three (3,000, 400 hurdles, high jump)
Relays qualified: One (Sprint medley relay)
Athlete to watch: Senior Jaedynn Evans has picked the perfect time to hit the peak of her prep track and field career.
After a runner-up finish in the high jump at the River Valley Conference meet Evans cleared a career-best 5-5 on her way to the title at the state qualifying meet last month.
By clearing 5-5 Evans enters tied for the performance from state qualifying meets joining Southeast Valley freshman Kiersten Fisher and Panorama senior Morgan Johnk in clearing the bar at 5-5.
Relay team to watch: The Regals only bring one relay team to state but it is a group capable of picking up a medal.
The sprint medley team of Madeline Adam, Hope Simpson, Evans and Annie Gahan posted the eighth fastest state qualifying time at 1:52.61 last week, a full second faster than its previous best time.
Outlook: Regina has four events qualified and all four of them enter with top-12 qualifying times.
Evans and the Regals’ sprint medley relay team both have top-eight qualifying marks along with Gahan who enters with the ninth fastest time in the 400 hurdles form qualifying meets.
Sophomore Annalee Bartles has the 12th fastest time in the 3,000 this season.
Individual events qualified: Three (High jump, 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles)
Relays qualified: Three (4x100, shuttle hurdle relay, distance medley relay)
Athlete to watch: It will be a busy week for junior Jaylen Votroubek who qualified for the state meet in four events.
Votroubek has the sixth-best qualifying time in the 400 hurdles at 1:06.9 and is a member of three Bear relay teams including the shuttle hurdle squad that is seeded fourth.
Relay team to watch: Bringing home state hardware in the shuttle hurdle relay has become tradition at West Branch and the Bears once again have a team capable of picking up medals.
The foursome of Jaylen Votroubek, Sasha Koenig, Chloe Sarver and Kaiya Luneckas have the fourth fastest time from state qualifiers at 1:08.54.
Votroubek, Koenig and Luneckas were all members of the West Branch shuttle hurdle team that placed fifth at state last season in 1:09.5.
Outlook: West Branch had a strong state qualifying meet performance pushing six events through to the state meet including three relays.
Votroubek was fifth in the 400 hurdles last season as a sophomore and will attempt to improve on that this year while Luneckas qualified in both the 100 and 400 hurdles.
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