116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — The Iowa high school state track and field meet begins at 9 a.m. Thursday at Drake Stadium and runs through Saturday.
Here are the top individuals and teams in the girls’ field, along with The Gazette’s championship picks:
Top individuals: Mackenzie Carney of Waukee Northwest was the Drake Relays most outstanding performer among high school girls. Carney figures to sweep the three hurdling events and will run in a sprint relay. Holly Duax of Sioux City West is the favorite in four events (100, 200, long jump and 400-meter relay). Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Gabby Cortez won the Drake 400 and will be at or near the top in three other events; at regionals, she ran on the winning 400- and 1,600-meter relays and the sprint medley. Julia Gehl of Dubuque Hempstead highlights the distance field.
Scouting the team race: Waukee has become the epicenter of big-school girls’ track and field power, and the central-Iowa suburban town’s split to two schools has changed nothing. First-year school Waukee Northwest enters as a heavy favorite to give the city its sixth consecutive 4A state title behind Carney and Natalie Harris. The race for second place carries intrigue, and three Mississippi Valley Conference teams (Cedar Rapids Prairie, Iowa City High and Dubuque Hempstead) should be in the mix, along with Ames, Sioux City West, Pleasant Valley and Norwalk. Prairie should score extremely well in Cortez’s four events, while City has a rising star in freshman Ani Wedemeyer.
Projected points leaders: Waukee Northwest 72, Iowa City High 50, Cedar Rapids Prairie 46, Ames 44, Sioux City West 42.
Our trophy picks: 1. Waukee Northwest, 2. Cedar Rapids Prairie, 3. Iowa City High.
Top individuals: Audrey Biermann of Western Dubuque won four events (100, 200, 400, sprint medley relay) last year, and is back as the top seed in all four of them. Biermann will go head-to-head with Carlisle ace Ainsley Erzen in the 400 in what should be one of the most compelling 3A girls’ races of the weekend. Erzen also is slated to compete in the 800, 1,500 and 3,200-meter relay. State cross country champion Paityn Noe of Ballard is the favorite in the 3,000 and will duel with Erzen in the 1,500.
Scouting the team race: Adel-DeSoto-Minburn is riding a wave of momentum after a remarkable regional performance, and the Tigers have stormed into the role of favorite. ADM is the top seed in the high jump, long jump, 4x100 and 4x200, and the Tigers are top-three seeds in nine events total and projected to double-place in four events. Spencer also had a big regional run and brings the top-seeded distance medley to Des Moines. Western Dubuque has Biermann and a couple of good throwers. Defending-champion Dubuque Wahlert can’t be overlooked. Nor can relay-heavy Solon, which won the Drake 4x400.
Projected points leaders: Adel ADM 98, Spencer 57, Western Dubuque 51, Dubuque Wahlert 43, Ballard 37.
Our trophy picks: 1. Adel ADM, 2. Solon, 3. Western Dubuque.
Top individuals: Jaidyn Sellers of Panorama is the top sprinter in the field and is one of the 100- and 200-meter favorites. Ellie Rickertsen of Northeast is capable of sweeping the hurdles races. Mid-Prairie boasts a pair of stars in Mitzi Evans and Danielle Hostetler. Evans will contend in the 400 and 800, Hostetler will do the same in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000, and both will figure into the Golden Hawks’ relay scene.
Scouting the team race: It’s a four-team title chase that includes three-time defending champion Mid-Prairie. The Golden Hawks’ hopes got a big boost when Hostetler returned from a nagging stress reaction, and with Hostetler and Evans, Mid-Prairie will be a factor in every race from 400 to 3,000 and should score well in a couple of relays (maybe both medleys). The Golden Hawks will be challenged by Denver, Van Meter and KP-WC. Denver has the top seed in three events (Sydney Eggena in the shot put, Natalie Demai in the 200 and the 1,600 relay), Van Meter’s Clare Kelly will battle Hostetler in the 1,500, and the Bulldogs have the top distance medley relay. KP-WC has reliable top-three seeds in five events.
Projected points leaders: Denver 51, Van Meter 47, Mid-Prairie 46, KP-WC 45, Unity Christian 30, Underwood 30.
Our trophy picks: 1. Mid-Prairie, 2. KP-WC, 3. Denver.
Top individuals: Madrid boasts a multitude of speed. Lilly Ostert and Ella Santi are seeded 1-3 in the 100, Jillian Dodds is No. 1 in the 200, and that trio comprises three-fourths of the Tigers’ top-seeded 400- and 800-meter relays. Jalyssa Blazek of Turkey Valley is the top seed in the 800 and 1,500. She’ll be challenged in the latter by Calamus-Wheatland freshman Noelle Steines, who also is the favorite in the 3,000. Maddax DeVault of Nodaway Valley will be a factor in both hurdles races as well as the shuttle hurdle relay.
Scouting the team race: Led by its sprinting stable, Madrid is a slight favorite to win its second straight championship. The Tigers are top-seeded in the 100- and 200-meter races, and the 400- and 800-meter relays. DeVault’s hurdles prowess — with some sprint-relay points sprinkled in — makes Nodaway Valley a threat, and Nashua-Plainfield is a contender in both medley relays, as well as the 400 (Kadence Huck) and the discus (Breanna Hackman). Those three teams should be the trophy recipients; the order of finish is the mystery.
Projected points leaders: Madrid 52, Nashua-Plainfield 48, Nodaway Valley 45, Grand View Christian 31, Algona Garrigan 31.
Our trophy picks: 1. Madrid, 2. Nodaway Valley, 3. Nashua-Plainfield.