DES MOINES — Taking a glance at the top boys’ individuals and team contenders at the state track and field meet, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Drake Stadium:
Individuals to watch: Iowa State football recruit Darien Porter of Bettendorf is a track star, too. He heads to Drake Stadium as the big-school favorite in the 100, 200 and 400, and he was clocked in 47.84 in the latter of those three. He will anchor the Bulldogs’ sprint medley relay. Trent Davis of Linn-Mar claimed the 110-meter hurdles title at Drake, and Davis’ Lions will battle West Des Moines Valley and Cedar Rapids Kennedy for shuttle-hurdle relay supremacy. Joe Schaefer of Johnston was the Drake most outstanding male performer and is an 800/1,600 ace. Kolby Greiner of Iowa City West is seeded No. 1 in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Tracking the team race: West Des Moines Valley won the 4A title by three points last year, and it isn’t projected to be nearly that close this weekend. The Tigers are just too deep. They’re seeded to score in 12 events, including No. 1 billing in the high jump, shot put, shuttle hurdle relay and 1,600-meter relay. Western Dubuque and Ames figure to battle for the second-place spot, and Porter could help push Bettendorf into that mix, as well. Strong performances by Greiner, Gabe Caruthers and defending shot-put champion Landon Green could put Iowa City West in contention for a top-five spot.
How they’ll finish: 1. West Des Moines Valley, 2. Western Dubuque, 3. Ames, 4. Bettendorf, 5. Waukee
Individuals to watch: Sergeant Bluff-Luton junior Jorma Schwedler is the man to beat in the 100, 200 and 400, and is slotted to run in the Warriors’ sprint medley relay. Trey Engen of Atlantic figures to run at or near the front of the pack in the 1,600 and 3,200. Tighten the focus toward the Metro and area, and you find Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Nathan Skala as the No. 1 seed in the 800, and Matt Vislisel of Mount Vernon as the favorite in the discus. South Tama’s Keith Keahna is the defending high-jump winner, and is seeded No. 2 in that event Thursday.
Tracking the team race: A four-event stretch during the middle of Saturday’s program is likely to separate Sergeant Bluff-Luton from the field. The Warriors are projected to score 42 points in the shuttle hurdle relay, 100, 110 hurdles and 200, which run consecutively, and that should lift SBL to the top after finishing third last year. Atlantic and Dubuque Wahlert appear to have the inside track to the other two trophies. Atlantic should close strong Saturday in the 200, 1,600 and 1,600 relay.
How they’ll finish: 1. Sergeant Bluff-Luton, 2. Atlantic, 3. Dubuque Wahlert, 4. Algona, 5. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley
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Individuals to watch: Williamsburg has a strong sprinting crew, led by Kaden Wetjen. The junior is the favorite in the 200 and one of the top contenders in the 100. He also is on the Raiders’ top-seeded 400- and 800-meter relays. Parker Kiewiet of Dike-New Hartford was the Drake Relays long-jump champion, and keys the Wolverines in three relays. New Hampton’s Noah Fenske is a good bet to sweep the throws; he was the Drake champ in the shot put. Reece Smith of Garner GHV is among the favorites in the 800 and 1,600, and Grant Brouwer of Sibley-Ocheyedan cleared 6-10 in the high jump at districts.
Tracking the team race: Led by Kiewiet, Dike-New Hartford is seeded in the top two in six events, and that makes the Wolverines a solid bet to claim the title; they were 30th last year. Williamsburg has some weapons in the sprints, particularly Wetjen and Gage Hazen-Fabor. South Central Calhoun should score well in the distance events; The Titans are projected for a 1-3 finish in the 800.
How they’ll finish: 1. Dike-New Hartford, 2. Williamsburg, 3. South Central Calhoun, 4. Camanche, 5. Treynor
Individuals to watch: Jack Garber of Conrad BCLUW is the top hurdler in the class; he is seeded No. 1 in the 110-meter highs and second in the 400-meter lows. He will anchor the Comets’ top-seeded shuttle hurdle relay and is a contender in the 100-meter dash. Tyson Vander Linden of Lynnville-Sully is favored ahead of Garber in the 400 hurdles, and is seeded second in the open 400 and fifth in the 200. Le Mars Gehlen’s Will Roder has a chance to sweep the 1,600 and 3,200.
Tracking the team race: Led by three top-seeded relays, Council Bluffs St. Albert is a slight pick to repeat. The Falcons are tops in the 800- and 1,600-meter relays and the sprint medley, and are in line to score big Saturday. Garber’s prowess makes BCLUW the Falcons’ top threat, especially if the Comets can pick up some good points in the distance events. Lynnville-Sully has the inside track for the other trophy, but will be pushed hard by Tri-Rivers Conference hopefuls Calamus-Wheatland and Maquoketa Valley, along with Wapsie Valley.
How they’ll finish: 1. Council Bluffs St. Albert, 2. Conrad BCLUW, 3. Lynnville-Sully, 4. Calamus-Wheatland, 5. Maquoketa Valley
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