Perhaps this is an exercise in futility.
The only sure thing about the Iowa high school track and field season is that there will be no practice until April 13. The Drake Relays have been postponed, and it’s anything but a long shot that the championship season of May — conference, state-qualifying and state meets — will be moved back or canceled altogether.
But as of today, everything is on, and we’ll proceed as such.
When — OK, if — we have a girls’ track and field season, here are five things to keep an eye on:
1. Marie Hostetler's final go-round
Mid-Prairie’s Marie Hostetler very nearly was a Class 2A state quadruple-winner last year. Hostetler captured the 3,000- and 1,500-meter races and anchored the Golden Hawks’ victorious distance medley relay.
Her only setback was in the 800-meter run, in which she was edged by Aplington-Parkersburg’s Sophia Jungling, who also returns this spring.
A Liberty University signee, Hostetler has accumulated five state track titles (three in individual events, two in relays), plus five second-place finishes (three in which she finished behind older sister Anna Hostetler), a third and a fifth.
Hostetler is a three-time individual state cross country champion.
She helped lead the Golden Hawks to 2A state titles in 2018 and 2019. They were second in 2017.
2. Liberty's Lightning-quick growth
This didn’t take long.
Now in its third year, Iowa City Liberty has grown into a legitimate Class 4A state-championship contender.
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Led by distance ace Ashlyn Keeney and hurdler Taylor Cannon, Liberty finished fourth in the 4A race last year with 48 points.
All 48 return this spring.
Keeney won the 4A 3,000- and 1,500-meter races last year, was second in the 800 and distance medley relay. Cannon was second in the 100-meter hurdles and was a member of the sixth-place shuttle hurdle relay.
If one more state-level weapon emerges, look out.
3. Mount Vernon is intriguing
Mount Vernon finished seventh in Class 3A last year, and the Mustangs might be poised for a leap under new coach Kory Swart.
Of last year’s 29 state-meet points, 27.5 are projected to return.
Senior thrower Lily Meester is the headliner. She is the defending champion in the discus and finished fourth in the shot put.
Mount Vernon also brings back three legs of the third-place shuttle hurdle relay, including Annie Leopold, who was fourth in the 100-meter hurdles.
Quality depth will make the Mustangs a strong invitational team, and the headliners make them a threat to bring home a state trophy.
4. Freshmen to watch
Freshmen commonly make a major impact in girls’ track and field, far more frequently than on the boys’ side.
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Who is the next wave of stars? One way to locate them is to look at the eighth-grade results at last year’s middle-school state meet.
Clear Creek Amana’s Silvana Kabolo was the large-school champion in the 100-meter hurdles, while Sigourney’s Macy Fisch won the small-school title in the shot put.
Iowa City Northwest was the large-school runner-up in the team race, and that bodes well for Iowa City West, which hopes to improve on an 11th-place finish in Class 4A.
5. State track favorites
Best-case scenario, the state meet is two months away. The most sure bet for a championship is Dubuque Wahlert in Class 3A. If everybody comes back, the Golden Eagles return all 64.5 points from last year. They finished a half-point behind Glenwood in last year’s race.
Defending champion Waukee is the team to beat again in 4A, but the Warriors figure to be challenged by Liberty and Southeast Polk. All three teams return between 44 and 49 points.
In addition to Hostetler, Mid-Prairie returns a strong core of sprinters, and that makes the Golden Hawks the favorite to gather its third straight 2A title, with Aplington-Parkersburg the chief challenger.
Last year’s 1A co-champions, Alburnett and Lansing Kee were hit hard by graduation, and that shifts the focus to Nodaway Valley and Montezuma, who return virtually intact.
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