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State track experiment pays off for Gabby Cortez and Cedar Rapids Prairie
Hawks own the lead in the Class 4A girls’ race heading into the final day
DES MOINES — It didn’t result in any gold medals, but The Cortez Shuffle had its desired outcome in the team race.
Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Gabby Cortez was moved out of two relays and into two others for the state track and field meet. She anchored the Hawks to second place in the 800-meter relay and third in the distance medley Friday morning at Drake Stadium.
“We ran the (sprint medley) really well at (the) Drake (Relays), and we were hoping both of these two relays could get to the top three,” Cortez said.
The Hawks pulled it off. And as a result, they will take the Class 4A girls’ team lead into the final day.
Through 10 events, Prairie has 34 points. Ames and West Des Moines Valley are tied with 32.
The final nine events are Saturday.
Cortez ran in the 400- and 1,600-meter relays at the state-qualifying meet last week. But she said the shuffle was in the works all along.
Prairie didn’t run in the fast heat of either the sprint medley or the 4x200, but competed well beyond its seed.
Running in Heat 2 and Lane 7, Asia Russell, Sarah Jordan, Catie Reittinger and Cortez blazed to a school-record 1:43.26. Only Ames (1:43.13) ran faster in the final heat.
“I thought it was nice that we were in Lane 7,” Jordan said. “It gave us a push to stay out front.”
About two hours earlier, Jordan, Kamryn Grissel, Lily Johannes and Cortez picked up third in the distance medley in 4:07.96. Ankeny won it in 4:05.44, and Iowa City High (4:07.10) was second, thanks to a 2:10.4 anchor by freshman Ani Wedemeyer.
Ruby McDonough, Eva Reynolds and Mia DePrenger ran the first three legs for the Little Hawks.
“We knew coming in that we would be one of the top teams. We have a strong freshman anchor,” DePrenger said. “These girls are so fast on the front side, but not many of them have a 2:12 girl at the end.”
DePrenger said she “was 90-percent sure I handed off last (to Wedemeyer). I was on the ground dying, and I heard (PA announcer Mike Jay) saying that (Wedemeyer) was in the middle of the pack already on the backstretch and I was thinking, ‘How did she get there?’”
Wedemeyer said, “I wanted to win. The field was very fast. There’s a point in the race in which you want to go faster, but physically cannot.”
Prairie’s Taylor Lee (long jump) and Linn-Mar’s Kennedy Evans (shot put) earned third-place finishes.
Lee sailed 16 feet, 9 inches; Evans heaved the shot 39-4 to move up a spot on her last throw.
“That was all or nothing,” she said. “I knew I had to go as fast as I could through the ring. I had nothing to lose, and it worked out.”
Friday results: Class 4A girls
Top 10 teams (through 10 events) — 1. Cedar Rapids Prairie 34, 2. (tie) Ames and West Des Moines Valley 32, 4. Ankeny 28.5, 5. Norwalk 25, 6. (tie) Waukee and Waukee Northwest 22, 8. Iowa City High 21, 9. (tie) Dubuque Hempstead and Pleasant Valley 19.
Shot put — 1. Caitlyn Cox (West Des Moines Valley), 40-7 1/4; 2. Kendra Winfrey (Ankeny), 39-11; 3. Kennedy Evans (Linn-Mar), 39-4.
Long jump — 1. Holly Duax (Sioux City West), 18-6 1/2; 2. Marin Randall (Norwalk), 17-2; 3. Taylor Lee (Cedar Rapids Prairie), 16-9; 4. Emily Arling (Iowa City High), 16-8; 6. Kaylee Bunn (Linn-Mar), 16-7 1/4.
Distance medley relay — 1. Ankeny (Smith, Shadravan, Fulk, Macke), 4:05.44; 2. Iowa City High, 4:07.10; 3. Cedar Rapids Prairie, 4:07.96.
800 relay — 1. Ames (Buss, Deardorff, Moon, Lynch), 1:43.13; 2. Cedar Rapids Prairie, 1:43.26; 3. Waukee Northwest, 1:43.62; 8. Linn-Mar, 1:45.53.
400 hurdles — 1. Mackenzie Carney (Waukee Northwest), 1:03.14; 2. Abby LaSale (Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln), 1:04.59; 3. Ali Frandsen (Ames), 1:05.39; 5. Erinn Varga (Iowa City West), 1:05.89; 7. Eva Reynolds (Iowa City High), 1:06.49.