Relays have Cascade rolling again

Track & field notes: Cougars strong all across the board

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Tim Frake believes this girls’ track and field team at Cascade High School could be his best yet.

And that’s saying something.

“I don’t really like comparing one year to the next,” Frake said. “But top to bottom, through all 19 events, this has the potential to be the best. I think we can maybe score in more events at state than in the past.”

Again, that’s saying something, considering Cascade has won three of the last five state titles in Class 2A.

But early-season results justify Frake’s optimism. The Cougars are loaded in the relays, which shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Last year, Cascade scored 46 of its 50 state points in events that feature a fast foursome and a baton.

“We’ve built our program around the relays,” Frake said. “We take a lot of pride in them, and it has really developed a team concept.”

Cascade is rated No. 1 in 2A in four relays. Molly McElmeel, Anne Ryan, Annie Meyer and Rachel Trumm have run 51.14 in the 400-meter relay, 1:47.66 in the 800-meter event.

Ryan and Meyer join Celine Rickels and Rebecca McDermott on a sprint-medley unit that has run 1:53.51, and the shuttle-hurdle quartet of Brittany Koppes, Noelle Green, Rachel Recker and Lisa Tucker is tops at 1:08.05.

Cascade’s other three relays are ranked third in 2A. River Valley Conference rival Monticello leads the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays and the distance medley.

If Cascade has an individual star, it’s Tucker. The four-sport athlete leads 2A in the 100-meter hurdles (15.79), is a 5-1 high-jumper and a 70-second 400-meter hurdler.

“She’s been tremendous,” Frake said. “She didn’t even start hurdling until her junior year. As she matured strength-wise, we thought it would be a good fit. By the second or third time she tried it, she was three-stepping.”

A three-time state runner-up in cross country, McDermott is ranked fifth in the 2A 800.

“One thing I’m proud of is how well-rounded of a team we are ... hurdles, sprints, distance,” Frake said.

BANNER DAY FOR WIRFS

Mike Jay, track expert and voice of the Drake Relays, called it the “best single-day throwing performance in state history ... and it’s not even close.”

Mount Vernon’s Tristan Wirfs moved up the state’s all-time leaderboard in both the shot put and the discus Tuesday at the Saber Relays in DeWitt, posting career-bests of 187-6 and 65-10 1/2.

A senior bound for the University of Iowa, Wirfs is now tied for the season lead with KP-WC’s Nick Phelps in the shot. They are tied for No. 3 all-time in the state.

Wirfs is 18th all-time in the discus.

THE FINAL LAP

• Assignments for state-qualifying meets May 11 have been released.

Area Class 4A teams are divided among Iowa City High and Dubuque, 3A at Marion, Mount Pleasant, Pella and Waverly, 2A at Eddyville, Hampton, Tipton and West Union, 1A at Belle Plaine, Central City, Edgewood and Wayland.

• The deadline for Drake Relays qualification is 11:59 p.m. next Thursday.

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

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