116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Casey Baxa steps out of the school and looks down the hill.
It’s really there. A home track facility.
“I can’t even explain it,” said Baxa, head coach for the boys and girls teams at Lisbon High School. “It’s so awesome. It’s like heaven.”
Lisbon will host its first competition — the Lisbon Relays — on its eight-lane oval Thursday, starting at 4:30 p.m. It’s a 10-team meet, boys and girls.
“The kids are excited. The community is excited,” Baxa said. “I hope we can get it off the ground without too many mishaps. We’ve got more than 30 volunteers, so I think that says how this community feels about it.”
Track and field has become a priority at Lisbon. The boys won three consecutive Class 1A state championships from 2015 to 2017, with the 2017 team accumulating 89 points. A few years back, the school restarted its own girls program (previously combined with Mount Vernon for decades), which has steadily improved.
Baxa is the head coach of both programs, which consist of 45 boys, 21 girls and three assistants.
The boys’ team is ranked No. 2 in the Varsity Bound 1A power index, and has an ace in junior Kole Becker, who stands atop the 1A leaderboard in the 400-meter hurdles (56.03 seconds) and the long jump (21 feet, 10 inches).
“He’s a basketball player, and he’s been playing a lot of spring ball,” Baxa said. “It’s crazy to think what he can do on fresh legs.
“He’s a good athlete, just starting to hit his stride.”
Gabby Cortez’s Drake options
Drake Relays qualification closes Thursday (11:59 p.m., to be precise). And while many are scrambling to cut time or add distance to get into the field, the staff at Cedar Rapids Prairie is working to find the best way to maximize Gabby Cortez.
“I know the coaches are thinking about our best possibilities,” Cortez said.
The junior is ranked in the top seven statewide in six events (two individual, four relays). She can run in four.
“I think it’s going to be the 4x800, the sprint medley, the 800 and the 400,” Cortez said Monday at the Eastern Iowa Track and Field Festival at Iowa City West.
She is ranked No. 1 in the 400 (56.87) and No. 7 in the 800 (2:20.00).
The Hawks’ 3,200-meter relay is No. 1 (9:33.61), and the sprint medley relay is No. 6 (1:51.69). She also has run on the 400-and 1,600-meter relays, both of which are in the top five.
Teammates Lily Johannes (2:18.50) and Alexis Moses (2:19.65) are third and fifth in the 800, and will join Cortez in the 3,200 relay.
“We’ve always had a good middle-distance group, but this year, I think we’ve gotten a lot better,” Cortez said.