Marion, Mount Vernon boys after the same prize

Track & field: Class 3A heavyweights collide in district Thursday at Marion

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Marion has the jumper. Mount Vernon has the thrower.

Marion has the distance duo. Mount Vernon has the middle-distance pack.

“We have two different makeups,” Marion boys’ track coach Chad Zrudsky said. “Our strengths lie in different places.”

The Indians and the Mustangs are in the midst of a three-act script that could ultimately determine the Class 3A state championship. Conference last week, state next week.

In between, they go head-to-head Thursday in a 3A district at Thomas Park Field in Marion.

State-qualifying meets — “districts” for boys, “regionals” for girls — are scheduled throughout the state in all four classes.

The top 24 in each event (first- and second-place finishers in 4A, 3A and 2A earn automatic bids, as do champions in 1A) advance to Drake Stadium in Des Moines May 18-20.

Barring injury, illness or some other freaky occurrence, Mount Vernon and Marion will be among the top 3A boys’ contenders.

“I think you put both of us right up there, along with Sergeant Bluff-Luton,” Mustangs Coach Ryan Whitman said. “It’s going to be a close, tight race.”

The Mustangs and the Indians finished second and third at the Wamac meet last week behind Western Dubuque (a 4A squad). They’ll be the class of an eight-team meet Thursday.

Both are top-seeded in seven events.

“Obviously, the conference meet was a measuring stick to see where things are at,” Zrudsky said. “It’s a guessing game, who to put where, so you can maximize kids at districts and state.”

The team race Thursday is not priority No. 1. It’s a matter of advancement, with a bonus of earning premium heats and lanes at state.

“Whatever happens with the team score, happens,” Whitman said. “If we come out on top Thursday, great. If not, no big deal.”

Marion is led by Myles Bach (the defending 3A state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200) and Jeremy Fopma in the distances, plus jumper/hurdler Blair Brooks. Mount Vernon counters with Tristan Wirfs, one of the best throwers in state history, along with a middle-distance crew led by Jeremy and Zach Krogmann.

In Class 4A, most of the Metro/Iowa City teams will compete at City High. The exceptions are Linn-Mar and Cedar Rapids Washington, which will go to Dubuque.

Cedar Rapids Prairie is the defending 4A boys’ state champion. Iowa City West is one of the top girls’ contenders.

The River Valley Conference is loaded with strong girls’ programs, led by defending 2A champion Cascade. The Cougars will compete at West Union, along with Monticello. North Cedar is at Tipton; Mid-Prairie is at Eddyville.

Lisbon is the two-time defending 1A boys’ champion and is a heavy favorite at the Central City district.

Start times for all meets are 4 p.m. (field events) and 4:30 (running events).

Thursday’s forecast calls for a temperature of 68 degrees in Cedar Rapids at 4 p.m., with cloudy skies and a 20-percent chance of rain.

Thursday's state-qualifying meets

Qualifiers advance to Drake Stadium, Des Moines, May 18-20

CLASS 4A

First- and second-place finishers automatically qualify in each event, as well as the next 12 best efforts statewide

At Dubuque — Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids Washington, Dubuque Hempstead, Dubuque Senior, Linn-Mar, Waterloo East, Waterloo West, Western Dubuque.

At Iowa City High — Burlington, Cedar Rapids Jefferson, Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Cedar Rapids Prairie, Iowa City High, Iowa City West, Newton, Ottumwa.

CLASS 3A

First- and second-place finishers automatically qualify in each event, as well as the next 8 best efforts statewide

At Marion — Cedar Rapids Xavier, DeWitt Central, Dubuque Wahlert, Maquoketa, Marion, Mount Vernon, Solon, West Delaware.

At Mount Pleasant — Davenport Assumption, Fairfield, Fort Madison, Keokuk, Mount Pleasant, Washington, West Burlington-Notre Dame, West Liberty.

At Pella — Benton Community, Clear Creek Amana, Grinnell, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, Pella, South Tama, Williamsburg.

At Waverly — Center Point-Urbana, Charles City, Crestwood, Decorah, Independence, Union, Vinton-Shellsburg, Waverly-Shell Rock.

CLASS 2A

First- and second-place finishers automatically qualify in each event, as well as the next 8 best efforts statewide

At Eddyville — Albia, Centerville, Central Decatur, Central Lee, Clarke, Davis County, Eddyville EBF, Mid-Prairie, Monroe PCM, Pella Christian, Pleasantville, Van Buren.

At Hampton — Aplington-Parkersburg, Baxter CMB, Conrad BCLUW, Denver, Dike-New Hartford, East Marshall, Hampton-Dumont, Jesup, Roland-Story, South Hardin, Waterloo Columbus, West Marshall.

At Tipton — Camanche, Columbus Community, Highland, Iowa City Regina, Louisa-Muscatine, Mediapolis, North Cedar, Northeast, Tipton, Wapello, West Branch, Wilton.

At West Union — Anamosa, Bellevue, Cascade, Dyersville Beckman, MFL MarMac, Monticello, New Hampton, North Fayette Valley, Oelwein, South Winneshiek, Sumner-Fredericksburg, Waukon.

CLASS 1A

First-place finishers automatically qualify in each event, as well as the next 14 best efforts statewide

At Belle Plaine — Belle Plaine, BGM, Colo-Nesco, Garwin GMG, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Grundy Center, HLV, Iowa Valley, Lynnville-Sully, Meskwaki, Montezuma, North Mahaska, North Tama, Tri-County, Twin Cedars.

At Central City — Alburnett, Bellevue Marquette, Calamus-Wheatland, Central City, Clinton Prince of Peace, Don Bosco, East Buchanan, Easton Valley, Hudson, Lisbon, Maquoketa Valley, Midland, North Linn, Springville.

At Edgewood — Clarksville, Clayton Ridge, Dunkerton, Edgewood-Colesburg, Elkader Central, Janesville, Lansing Kee, Postville, Starmont, Tripoli, Turkey Valley, Valley Lutheran, Wapsie Valley, West Central.

At Wayland — Cardinal, Danville, Durant, English Valleys, Iowa Mennonite, Keota, Lone Tree, Moravia, Moulton-Udell, New London, Pekin, Sigourney, WACO, Winfield-Mount Union.

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

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