Iowa City West's Valerie Welch doubles her fun

State track, 4A girls: Colorado recruit runs on distance medley, then comes up with clutch effort in long jump

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DES MOINES — So much for easing onto the championship scene.

Shut out of the title picture throughout her career before the day began, Iowa City West’s Valerie Welch struck gold twice at the state track and field meet Friday at Drake Stadium.

The senior ran the 400-meter leg on West’s winning distance medley relay, then came up with a clutch leap to claim the long jump crown.

Best day ever as an athlete?

“Yeah, I would say yes,” beamed Welch, a University of Colorado signee.

West remains atop the Class 4A girls’ standings with 62 points. Defending champion Waukee is next with 52.

The final nine events will be contested Saturday.

Welch trailed Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln’s Darby Thomas in the long jump as her last attempt awaited. Before her final leap, she consulted with Coach Mike Parker.

“He told me to move up a fourth the length of my foot, then do the same thing I’d been doing,” said Welch, who came through with a leap of 18 feet, 5 3/4 inches. Thomas scratched her last try and settled for second at 18-3.

Peyton Steva, Kitra Bell, Welch and Bailey Nock won the distance medley in 4:03.21, holding off a late charge by Waukee (4:03.49).

Welch ran the 400 leg in 57.4 seconds, then Nock anchored in 2:12.4.

“I was very, very nervous, to be honest,” Nock said. “I didn’t want to let the other girls down. I couldn’t get outkicked. I remember the feeling after the 4-by-8 at Drake, and I knew I had to finish.”

Bell transferred from Waterloo West after last season. She joined Welch and Steva as first-time champs.

“I’ve never been part of such a great team,” Bell said.

Welch also placed third in the 400-meter hurdles in a busy day.

“It was kind of hectic,” she said. “Usually I’m kind of tired, but I guess the adranalin kicked in.”

But still ...

“I’m going to go back to my room and go to bed,” she said.

Chandler Haight gave West another scoring boost with a second-place finish in the shot put. Haight threw 42 feet, 3 1/2 inches; Moe Nealey of Waukee won it at 43-5.

The Drake Relays champion in the 400-meter hurdles, Payton Wensel of Linn-Mar settled for second Friday, finishing second to Pleasant Valley’s Addie Swanson (1:01.76 to 1:02.27).

Linn-Mar is in third place with 28 points.

STATE TRACK & FIELD: 4A GIRLS

Teams (through 10 events) — 1. Iowa City West 62, 2. Waukee 52, 3. Linn-Mar 28, 4. Cedar Falls 23, 5. West Des Moines Dowling 22, 6. Johnston 21, 7. Southeast Polk 20, 8. Indianola 18, 9. (tie) Pleasant Valley and North Scott 17.

Results (top 3 and area placewinners)

Distance medley relay — 1. Iowa City West (Steva, Bell, Welch, Nock), 4:03.21; 2. Waukee, 4:03.49; 3. West Des Moines Dowling, 4:05.51; 6. Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 4:14.46.

Shot put — 1. Moe Nealey (Waukee), 43-5; 2. Chandler Haight (Iowa City West), 42-3 1/2; 3. Katy Jones (Lewis Central), 40-6.

800 relay — 1. Southeast Polk (Woodard, Hersom, Hartz, Milani), 1:41.27; 2. Waukee, 1:41.93; 3. Dubuque Senior, 1:42.23; 8. Western Dubuque, 1:44.76.

Long jump — 1. Valerie Welch (Iowa City West), 18-5 3/4; 2. Darby Thomas (Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln), 18-3; 3. Kenna Sauer (Ankeny Centennial), 17-10 3/4; 4. Vanessa Eniola (Cedar Rapids Washington), 17-6; 6. Kitra Bell (Iowa City West), 17-0 1/4; 7. Ariana Rolle (Linn-Mar), 16-11 3/4.

400 hurdles — 1. Addie Swanson (Pleasant Valley), 1:01.76; 2. Payton Wensel (Linn-Mar), 1:02.27; 3. Valerie Welch (Iowa City West), 1:03.21; 6. Amara Taylor (Cedar Rapids Washington), 1:05.72; 8. Micaela Gravelin (Iowa City West), 1:06.65.

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

Video: Iowa City West wins 4A distance medley

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