DES MOINES — Taking a glance at the top girls’ individuals and team contenders at the state track and field meet, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Drake Stadium:
Individuals to watch: Darby Thomas of Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln was the Drake Relays girls’ most outstanding performer. She’s the favorite in the long jump, will battle Waterloo East’s Kerris Roberts in the sprints and will be among the top contenders in the 100-meter hurdles. Iowa City Liberty’s Ashlyn Keeney is one of the nation’s top freshman distance runners, and makes her state debut as the one to beat in the 1,500 and 3,000. She’ll battle in the 800 with Drake champ Mackenzie Michael of Cedar Falls.
Tracking the team race: Waukee has been the 4A team of the decade, with five titles since 2012, including three in a row. The Warriors might not hit triple digits like they did in 2017 (116 points) and 2018 (122), but their firepower in the field events and the relays sets them apart from the field. Linn-Mar is seeded to score in 11 events, and is projected to battle Cedar Falls for the runner-up trophy. A number of teams are top-five candidates, including all three Iowa City schools.
How they’ll finish: 1. Waukee, 2. Cedar Falls, 3. Linn-Mar, 4. Southeast Polk, 5. Iowa City Liberty
Individuals to watch: If they aren’t already, Davenport Assumption’s Carly King and Dubuque Wahlert’s Libby Wedewer will become well-acquainted by the end of the weekend. They are seeded 1-2 in the 100 and 200, and both are scheduled to anchor their respective sprint medley relays. King also is the favorite in the 400. Grace Martensen of Benton Community pursues her third straight title in the 100-meter hurdles. Janette Schraft of Glenwood is among the favorites in the distance events and the 400-meter hurdles.
Tracking the team race: Behind Wedewer and King, Wahlert and Assumption are the top contenders. Wahlert has a slight advantage because Aliyah Carter figures to score well in the high jump and long jump, and because the Golden Eagles should close strong in the 1,600-meter relay. Pella is the defending champion and won’t surrender its crown quietly, and Iowa Falls-Alden could score a bunch in the distance events from the Juhl triplets.
How they’ll finish: 1. Dubuque Wahlert, 2. Davenport Assumption, 3. Pella, 4. Iowa Falls-Alden, 5. Solon
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Individuals to watch: Like last year, Tipton’s Jamie Kofron was a double champion at the Drake Relays (shot put, discus). But two titles (or even one) this weekend isn’t a sure thing. Brylie Zeisneiss of South Hardin is another elite thrower; she and Kofron are the two best in the state, regardless of class. Marie Hostetler of Mid-Prairie is the top distance runner in 2A; she’s likely to win the 800, 1,500 and 3,000, and will anchor the Golden Hawks’ distance medley relay. Anna Winterrowd of Ida Grove OABCIG is the star sprinter in the class; Dyersville Beckman’s Heather Boeckenstedt ranks No. 2 in the 100 hurdles and will run on the Blazers’ top-seeded shuttle hurdle relay.
Tracking the team race: The presence of Hostetler alone would make Mid-Prairie a prime contender. Add in a good sprint crew (seeded in the top four of the 400-meter relay and sprint medley), and that figures to put the Golden Hawks over the top for the second straight year. If they falter, there is a pack of teams ready to pounce. Chief among them is Panorama, which is seeded to score in nine events, but higher than fifth in just two. If the Panthers can outshine their seeds, they’re dangerous. Cascade has won four state titles since 2012, and is seeded in the top five in five relays. Ida Grove OABCIG, Jesup and KP-WC are other potential contenders.
How they’ll finish: 1. Mid-Prairie, 2. Panorama, 3. Cascade, 4. Ida Grove OABCIG, 5. Jesup
Individuals to watch: Lots of local star power here. Katie Brennan of Lansing Kee is seeded No. 1 in the 800, as well as three relays (1,600- and 3,200-meter and distance medley). Alburnett’s Madison Osborn is the favorite in the 100 and 200, and anchors a pair of top-three relays. Sigourney’s Summer Barthelman is projected to score in four events (she’s No. 3 in the long jump and the 400 hurdles). Montezuma’s Shateah Wetering leads the field in the 400 and anchors the Bravettes’ top-seeded sprint medley relay. Kaitlyn Wilder of Dunkerton is a good bet to sweep the throwing events.
Tracking the team race: It’s wide, wide open, and the team that can exceed 40 points is probably the team that takes home the title. Lansing Kee is projected to get to 40 behind four No. 1-seeded events (see Brennan above), but there’s no room for error. Alburnett (Osborn), Montezuma (Wetering) and Ackley AGWSR (Aubrie Fisher in the distances) all have a hammer that can lead them into contention. Other teams that could crash the party include Nodaway Valley, Central Decatur, Central City and Avoca AHSTW. Worth noting — if it comes down to the final event, Kee and Montezuma are seeded 1-2 in the 1,600 relay.
How they’ll finish: 1. Lansing Kee, 2. Alburnett, 3. Montezuma, 4. Ackley AGWSR, 5. Nodaway Valley
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