Surprise! Kennedy earns a title share

Girls' track & field: Cougars, Dubuque Senior top field at Linn-Mar

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MARION — Maybe, someday, in the not-so-distant future, Cedar Rapids Kennedy will be equipped to make a run to glory on a big stage in May.

If so, the seeds of success are being planted now.

The Cougars were a surprise co-champion at the Lion Relays girls’ track and field meet Tuesday evening at Linn-Mar Stadium, sharing the crown with Dubuque Senior.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” Kennedy Coach Duane Wampole said. “For this program, this team, it’s going to be a huge confidence builder.”

Kennedy and Senior scored 126 points apiece. Linn-Mar was third with 111.

The Cougars aren’t yet at the level of the state’s elite programs. Don’t expect them to score a bundle of points at the state meet.

But they’re moving forward.

They won just two events Tuesday, but depth carried them to a share of the title.

“The kids are starting to learn what it feels like to reap the benefits of hard work,” said Wampole, in his second year.

Both of Kennedy’s first-place finishes came in the hurdles. Natalie McAllister captured the 100-meter hurdles in 16.34 seconds, and led the Cougars’ shuttle to a 1:10.06 clocking.

Linn-Mar won seven events, Senior five.

Jill Bennett and Payton Wensel both were triple-winners for the Lions, and both set a meet record.

Bennett eclipsed the old 100-meter mark in 12.30 seconds; Wensel is the new 200 record-holder in 25.60.

“I was pretty nervous before the 100; I’m always nervous at our home meet, with all the people here watching,” Bennett said.

“I had a good start, a good race. It felt really good.”

Bennett and Wensel both were in the Lions’ victorious sprint medley and 800-meter relays, which were timed in 1:48.71 and 1:45.80, respectively.

“It’s amazing running with Payton,” Bennett said. “I love it. She hypes me up.”

And Wensel picked Bennett up emotionally after a faulty handoff foiled the Lions’ bid in the 400 relay, taking her aside and whispering a lengthy pep talk.

“We were so close to winning it,” Bennett said. “I felt like I let the team down. We’re definitely going to work on handoffs, and get ready for (the) Drake (Relays).”

Linn-Mar also won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays, and Cha’ White was the 400-meter champion.

Cedar Rapids Washington captured three golds — Vanessa Eniola in the long jump, Amara Taylor in the 400 hurdles and Reagan Gorman in the 1,500.

Marion’s Haley Blazek was the discus champion.

GIRLS’ TRACK & FIELD: LION RELAYS

At Linn-Mar

Teams — 1. (tie) C.R. Kennedy and Dubuque Senior 126, 3. Linn-Mar 111, 4. Marion 75, 5. C.R. Washington 61, 6. Davenport Central 36, 7. C.R. Xavier 24, 8. Davenport West 15.

Shot put — 1. Jenna Steen (DW), 36-9; 2. Alicia Steepleton (Mar), 34-4; 3. Tonee Lafayette (DS), 34-1; Discus — 1. Haley Blazek (Mar), 112-11 1/2; 2. Sydnee Atwater (DC), 95-11 1/2; 3. Alicia Steepleton (Mar), 94-9; High jump — 1. Grace Gudenkauf (DS), 5-2; 2. (tie) Megan Renner (LM) and Caitlyn Smith (Mar), 4-6; Long jump — 1. Vanessa Eniola (CRW), 16-9 1/2; 2. Katie Beer (CRK), 16-8; 3. Livvy Draves (Mar), 16-4.

Sprint medley relay — 1. Linn-Mar (Bennett, Hubler, Saville, Wensel), 1:48.71; 2. C.R. Washington, 1:57.76; 3. Marion, 2:00.40; 3,000 — 1. Mackenzie Gaherty (DS), 10:45.13; 2. Katie Tallett (CRX), 10:50.64; 3. Hallie Kephart (Mar), 10:54.45; 3,200 relay — 1. Linn-Mar (Hicks, Bohnenkamp, Kelley, Van Rheenen), 10:31.62; 2. Dubuque Senior, 10:50.48; 3. C.R. Xavier, 10:51.51; Shuttle hurdle relay — 1. C.R. Kennedy (Beer, McAllister, Peterson, Lovell), 1:10.06; 2. Dubuque Senior, 1:14.40; 3. Marion, 1:18.56; 100 — 1. Jill Bennett (LM), 12.30*; 2. Stevie Lambe (DS), 12.76; 3. Cheyenne Mitchell (CRK), 13.16; Distance medley relay — 1. Dubuque Senior (Redmond, Cook, Miller, Rampton), 4:32.95; 2. Linn-Mar, 4:40.07; 3. C.R. Kennedy, 4:43.33; 400 — 1. Cha’ White (LM), 1:05.18; 2. Libby Arnold (CRX), 1:07.32; 3. Maddy Holmstedt (CRK), 1:07.48; 800 relay — 1. Linn-Mar (Bennett, Saville, Hubler, Wensel), 1:45.80; 2. Dubuque Senior, 1:47.24; 3. C.R. Kennedy, 1:52.09; 100 hurdles — 1. Natalie McAllister (CRK), 16.34; 2. Amara Taylor (CRW), 16.51; 3. Anna Morris (DS), 17.04; 800 — 1. Lauren Miller (DS), 2:25.71; 2. Olivia Hamblin (CRK), 2:29.09; 3. Abby Van Rheenen (LM), 2:32.79; 200 — 1. Payton Wensel (LM), 25.60*; 2. Cheyenne Mitchell (CRK), 27.11; 3. Sophie Feahn (CRK), 27.11; 400 hurdles — 1. Amara Taylor (CRW), 1:10.38; 2. Alexis Peterson (CRK), 1:13.81; 3. Ashley Donovan (DS), 1:14.01; 1,500 — 1. Reagan Gorman (CRW), 4:58.35; 2. Mia Rampton (DS), 5:06.93; 3. Hannah Fusselman (CRK), 5:07.52; 400 relay — 1. Dubuque Senior (E.Lambe, Boleyn, Cook, S.Lambe), 50.84; 2. C.R. Kennedy, 50.87; 3. Linn-Mar, 51.70; 1,600 relay — 1. Linn-Mar (Saville, Huggins, White, Burrell), 4:20.08; 2. Dubuque Senior, 4:26.00; 3. Davenport Central, 4:28.89.

*meet record

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

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