Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Before Bruce Davis put the finishing touches on the lineup for the district meet last week the Liberty High head coach ran his plan by Drake Woody to make sure the workload wasn’t too heavy for the junior.
The plan that Davis had in place called for Woody to run four different 400-meter races in Liberty’s first crack at a Class 4A district.
As Davis expected Woody quickly said he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“He did four events last year at districts so he’s had a steady diet of carrying a big load for us,” Davis said. “We asked him, we made sure he was up for it and we talked about the turnaround for those events and he was excited for the challenge.”
Woody didn’t just handle the four-event schedule at the 4A, District 5 meet he crushed it, qualifying for the state meet in all four events while winning a pair of titles.
“I was definitely a little bit nervous but it was the same as the conference meet so I think that helped having a similar schedule,” Woody said. “I definitely was excited about all of those events and was looking forward to it.”
Woody won an individual title in the 400 hurdles and anchored the Liberty High 4x400 relay team to a win.
He added a runner-up finish in the 400 and ran the 400-meter anchor leg on the Liberty High sprint medley relay team that finished fourth and earned an additional qualifier spot at the 4A state meet that opens Thursday afternoon at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
“He embraces competition,” Davis explained. “It drives and motivates him to compete at an even higher level.”
The busy district performance for Woody started with the anchor leg on the sprint medley team that was fourth in 3:28.62.
It only got better from there for the junior who secured automatic state qualifying spots in each of his final three events.
He was runner-up to West High senior Gabe Caruthers in the 400 to earn an automatic qualifying spot in the 400 in a time of 50.92.
“It’s about placing but I was happy with my times for the most part,” Woody said. “I thought my 400 time could have been better but I just wanted to get that second spot.”
Woody closed his day with back-to-back titles.
He won his signature event, the 400 hurdles in a time of 54.97 and then turned around to anchor the Liberty High 4x400 relay team to a come from behind win in a time of 3:27.27.
“It was a situation where we could kind of bet on our guys and ultimately they embraced the challenge and they carried through,” Davis said of the 4x400 win. “It was something we considered going into it if it was too much (for Woody) and the more we talked about it the more we liked our chances and thought it was worth a shot.”
Woody was a three-event state qualifier last season as a sophomore in Class 3A.
In his first season competing in the biggest class in the state he added another event to his state meet schedule.
A year older and stronger, Woody has taken more than three seconds off his 400 hurdle time from last season.
“A lot of the improvement was just working hard with my dad (Iowa track coach Joey Woody), he has helped me a lot and my coaches here have always helped me,” Woody said. “Working on the 400 hurdles, I worked at the Iowa indoor track and that helped me. That helped me with my technique and my start.”
Woody enters the state meet with the seventh best time in the 400 hurdles in 4A this spring and will join the top competitors in the state in the final heat of the event.
Competing in that final heat was a goal for Woody who has the goal of cracking 53 seconds in the event.
“I wanted to be in the fast heat because I know those guys can push me,” Woody said. “It’s hard if you are in one of those slower heats so that is something I really wanted to work for.”
Woody has four chances at earning his first state medal this week and will attempt to become the first state medalist in program history.
“I’m not sure he has a ceiling,” Davis said. “As far as goals go he’s put himself in a position to go out and compete with the best in the state and I think that he has earned the right to be in that conversation and he’s ready to go show it. “
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