Prep Track and Field

Records secure, Valerie Welch chasing championships

Girls' track and field: Iowa City West star broke 4 school marks in 2016

Iowa City West’s Valerie Welch clears a hurdle as she anchors the winning shuttle hurdle relay at the Mississippi Valley Conference indoor girls’ track and field meet at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on March 14. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa City West’s Valerie Welch clears a hurdle as she anchors the winning shuttle hurdle relay at the Mississippi Valley Conference indoor girls’ track and field meet at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on March 14. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — She has the records.

Now, Valerie Welch is chasing proverbial rings. It’s all that separates her from the top athletes that have gone through one of the state’s top track and field programs.

“The school records are nice, but I want to be a state champion, and I want to be a state record-holder,” said Welch, a senior at Iowa City West.

Welch was a high placewinner in four events at the state meet last year. She was third in the Class 4A long jump, 100- and 400-meter hurdles, and fourth in the shuttle hurdle relay.

A fine performance, to be sure. But not quite what she wanted.

“It was a good state meet, but it wasn’t a great state meet,” West Coach Mike Parker said. “She expected to win things, and that’s what drives her today.

“She has the records. One thing she doesn’t have is the state titles. I feel good about her chances.”

The championships part is the only void in an otherwise glowing resume.

Welch started crossing off West records on a windy day at her home track, when she reset the school mark in the long jump — 19 feet, 4 inches.

“From that point on, her belief and her confidence sky-rocketed,” Parker said.

Welch wasn’t done. Before the end of the season, she also eclipsed school records in both individual hurdles events, and was on the record-setting shuttle hurdle relay.

And thus, part of Parker’s prediction had been fulfilled.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We were at the MVC Indoor meet at the UNI-Dome when Val was a freshman,” Parker said. “We had only seen her compete twice.

“After we had talked and she walked away, I told our assistants: ‘If Valerie Welch isn’t one of the best we’ve ever had, then we’ve failed.’”

Despite the lack of championships, the major colleges took note. Welch finally decided on the University of Colorado, which also matched her academic needs.

The owner of a 4.0 grade point average and a 34 ACT score, Welch intends to major in engineering.

“On my visit, I really liked it. I felt comfortable,” Welch said. “When I was in the airport, I thought, ‘This is a place I’d really like to be.’”

Despite her elite status, Welch doesn’t act like a big-timer. She helps load and unload the bus when the Women of Troy travel out of town, usually a task for the freshmen.

Girls track and field: Individuals to watch | Teams to watch

Last fall, she ran cross country, though she was a middle-of-the-pack JV runner, just to stay in shape.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

“She’s a unique girl,” Parker said. “A great thing is watching her develop leadership and knowledge of the sport.

“Arguably, she’s one of the best we’ve ever had. Now she’s just got to add the (championships).”

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

MORE Prep Track and Field ARTICLES TO READ NEXT ...

DES MOINES - An unofficial list of Drake Relays qualifiers, from information taken from Quik Stats after the deadline (11:59 p.m. Thursday). Area athletes and relays projected as top-eight seeds are noted as such. Drake will post ...

IOWA CITY - His team followed a superb season with a state meet that was, frankly, a bit of a downer. Austin West blamed himself. "I was a team leader, and I didn't do a good job making sure the guys were ready," West said of Io ...

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.