Prep Track and Field

North Cedar girls' track hoping 'new approach' pays off in May

Knights near the top of 2A in 9 events

North Cedar’s Darby Hawtrey attempts a jump at 5 feet, 3 inches at the Denny Gruber Relays at Solon on Tuesday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
North Cedar’s Darby Hawtrey attempts a jump at 5 feet, 3 inches at the Denny Gruber Relays at Solon on Tuesday. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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SOLON — A tricky part of track and field is learning to pace oneself.

In practice. In a race. In a season.

The North Cedar girls are taking the approach this season that it’s a distance race, not a sprint.

“In the past, we’ve gone hard, hard, hard,” senior Grace Proesch said. “We were really good early in the season, and we seemed to plateau and taper off at the end.”

The Knights entered May last season as a Class 2A contender, then stumbled somewhat at the state meet and settled for a 10th-place finish.

Thus, “we’re taking a new approach,” Proesch said.

Rest is more plentiful, she said. After winning two invitationals last week (at Tipton and at home), the Knights backed off a bit Tuesday and finished third at the Denny Gruber Relays.

It’s not as if the Knights are slacking.

“We go hard in practice,” Darby Hawtrey said. “We practice Saturdays. A lot of core work, we lift a lot. The hard practices suck, but they really pay off.”

North Cedar is ranked in 2A’s top five in nine events, No. 1 in three. Proesch (1:00.02) and Cassie Cox (1:00.83) are 1-2 in the 400 and run on the Knights’ top-rated 1,600-meter relay (4:08.56). Hawtrey is a member of North Cedar’s 2A-leading shuttle hurdle relay (1:08.77).

Proesch signed a national letter of intent last week to run for the Air Force Academy.

“It’s been a long process,” she said. “I really wanted to run at the Division-I level.”

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Veterans like Proesch, Hawtrey, Cox and Tessa Fields have elevated North Cedar’s program. The Knights finished 39th at state in 2015, then rose to 18th in 2016 and 10th last year.

Sights are set higher for the next month.

“If we keep working hard and get the right events put together, I think we can be right toward the top,” Hawtrey said.

Who's No. 1?

Area competitors are all-class state leaders in 13 events, including four by Linn-Mar’s Payton Wensel.

A senior and a University of Iowa signee, Wensel leads the state in the girls’ 400-meter dash (55.55) and 400-meter hurdles (1:01.45). She also is a member of the Lions’ 400-meter and sprint medley relays, which have run 48.99 and 1:44.90, respectively.

Jamie Kofron of Tipton is the leader in the girls’ discus at 142-1, and Iowa City West is tops in the 3,200-meter relay at 9:32.78.

On the boys’ side, Austin West of Iowa City West is No. 1 in the 400 hurdles (53.03) and long jump (23-3), and is a member of the Trojans’ top-ranked 1,600-meter relay (3:23.08).

Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s boys lead the way in the 400- and 800-meter relays at 42.31 and 1:28.81. Tanner Iske of West Liberty has blazed to a 10.68-second 100, and Marion’s Blair Brooks and South Tama’s Keith Keahna have cleared 6 feet, 8 inches in the high jump.

Thursday is last-chance day

The field for the Drake Relays will be determined following Thursday’s results. Times and distances for Drake qualification must be submitted to Quik Stats by 11:59 p.m.

Among Thursday’s major meets is the Forwald/Coleman Relays at Iowa City High.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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