116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
There will be pressure at Thursday’s Iowa high school state-qualifying track and field meets.
And there will most definitely be heat.
“I’m afraid of this heat,” Solon High School girls’ coach Brent Sands said. “We might need extra people available to get everything through that we want.”
A season trademarked by cold, windy conditions through April is forecast to transform into a hot, humid, sweaty swamp Thursday. The projected temperature in Cedar Rapids at 4 p.m. (start time for the first event) is 91 degrees with a heat index of 95.
“Heat is going to be a factor,” Iowa City High boys’ coach Mike Moore said. “We’ve got some guys in four events. We’ll have our hands full.”
The mission Thursday is to advance as much as possible to next week’s state meet — May 19-21 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines — and place those entrants in favorable heats.
“We have top-level athletes, and I feel they can score in some individual events,” Moore said. “And we have enough horses that we can do some damage in three or four relays.
“If we can get the field events through, we should have an advantage. But first and foremost, we want to get everything through.”
City High has emerged as the top Class 4A boys’ team. Solon and Mid-Prairie are the girls’ favorites in 3A and 2A. Lisbon is a 1A boys’ co-favorite.
“We had years in which we were able to put up a fight,” Sands said. “This is one of those years, if we do our business, we have a good shot of getting it done.”
Nobody will win a state championship Thursday. But a false start, a disqualification, a spill in the hurdles ... any of that can derail a team’s dream next week.
Here’s who qualifies:
Class 4A: Top two finishers in each event from each site, plus 12 at-large berths in each event statewide, based on time/distance.
Class 3A and Class 2A: Top two finishers in each event from each site, plus eight at-large berths in each event statewide, based on time/distance.
Class 1A: Winner in each event from each site, plus 14 at-large berths in each event statewide, based on time/distance.
Here are the five area teams most equipped to make a title chase next week at Drake Stadium:
Solon girls (Class 3A)
The Spartans, who stormed to the Wamac Conference championship last week, take their act to Van Horne on Thursday. Solon has quality individuals, for sure, led by middle-distance stars Emma Bock and Kaia Holtkamp, as well as freshman sprinter Aly Stahle.
But the difference between the Spartans and the other 3A contenders lies in the relays. Heading into the state-qualifying meets, they are ranked in the top three in all seven of them, including No. 1 in the 4x400 (which it won at the Drake Relays) and the 4x800.
“I feel pretty good. Depth has been a strength for us all year,” Sands said.
Mid-Prairie girls (Class 2A)
The return of sophomore distance ace Danielle Hostetler, who missed the first month of the season due to a stress reaction in her shin, makes the Golden Hawks the favorite to snag their fourth straight 2A girls’ crown.
With Hostetler and senior Mitzi Evans, Mid-Prairie has the pacesetter in any individual event which it so chooses between 200 meters and 3,000. Expect one (or both) of them in either (or both) of the medley relays. The Golden Hawks will compete at Eddyville on Thursday.
Iowa City High boys (Class 4A)
From the sprints (Jovan Harris) to the middle distances (Ammon Smith) to the long distances (Ford Washburn), the Little Hawks have all of the bases covered on the track.
They also have cornerstones in Matt Schaeckenbach (hurdles and high jump) and TaeShon McDaniels (throws), won the Drake Relays distance medley and are ranked No. 4 in the 3,200-meter relay.
Throw that all together, and the Little Hawks are favored to snag their first state-championship trophy since 2004. They’ll attempt to enhance their chances at the Dubuque district.
“We hope to be that team that takes City High from 58 (state championships) to 59,” Moore said
Lisbon boys (Class 1A)
The Lions are expected to duel with New London for the 1A boys’ title next week. A reigning state champion in four events, Kole Becker certainly is capable of repeating that feat. He is likely to compete in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles and the long jump Thursday in his final appearance on his home track, and his fourth event could be the open 400 or the anchor leg on the shuttle hurdle relay.
Becker can’t win a title by himself, though. Luke Czarnecki is one of the best small-school high-jumpers, and the Lions are ranked No. 2 in the 400- and 800-meter relays.
Clear Creek Amana boys (Class 3A)
Competing at Mount Pleasant on Thursday, the Wamac-champion Clippers are one of about a half-dozen teams with a legitimate shot at the 3A boys’ title (defending-champion Pella probably rates as a slight favorite).
CCA makes its mark in the hurdles and sprints behind seniors Harrison Rosenberg and Gavin Zillyette, and is ranked in the top three in three relays.