By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
Next week the attention turns to individuals with the focus on qualifying as many events as possible for the state track and field meet.
On Thursday, it’s all about the team title and several area teams will be in the thick of their conference races.
The postseason begins for prep track teams on Thursday with conference meets around the area.
Here’s what to watch as area teams and athletes chase conference titles.
Adding Another one
West High and City High will each attempt to add to their divisional title count on Thursday.
City High has won three consecutive divisional titles and travels to the Kingston Stadium on Thursday for the Valley Divisional where Cedar Falls is the early favorite.
West High heads to Waterloo’s Memorial Stadium for the Mississippi divisional attempting to add an impressive 16th MVC title in the past 20 years.
The Women of Troy won their first divisional crown since 2013 last season following consecutive runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015.
West High enters as a heavy favorite with a talented and balanced lineup highlighted by defending MVC divisional athlete of the year Valerie Welch and junior distance ace Bailey Nock.
Solon missed a conference title by 5.5 points last season finishing runner-up to Western Dubuque at the WAMAC meet.
The Spartans have the talent across their lineup to move into the top spot this season.
Solon should be in the thick of the title race again in what figures to be another balanced WAMAC race at Western Dubuque.
Last year the top five teams all scored between 72 and 94.5 points and reaching a triple digit team total this season could be enough to win.
Solon enters with top-two qualifying marks in five events including Josie Durr in the high jump, Erin Kerkhoff in the 400 and its 4×400 relay team.
Some Help From Her Friends
West Branch senior Paige Miller will try to earn her first River Valley Conference title in the 400 hurdles on Thursday in Bellevue.
Miller has the fastest time in the RVC 400 hurdle field by more than two seconds but will need some help from a trio of teammates to finish her final conference meet the way she likes.
The Bears’ senior leader is a member of three West Branch relay teams that enter the RVC meet with top four times among conference competitors.
Miller joins Tatum Koenig, Kaiya Luneckas and Jaylen Votroubek on the 4×200, 4×400 and shuttle hurdle relays.
The shuttle hurdle team enters with the second best time among RVC teams this season whiel the 4×200 group is third and the 4×400 team fourth.
If you enjoy the hurdle events the MVC Mississippi divisional is your meet.
Both the 100 and 400 hurdles feature the Drake Relays champion and the athlete with the top time in the state this season.
The 100 hurdles features a Drake Relays rematch between the top two finishers at Drake Stadium last week in West High senior Valerie Welch and Cedar Rapids Jefferson junior MiAsia Bergmann.
Welch has the best time in the state this season at 14.34.
Drake Relays champion Payton Wensel of Linn-Mar is the favorite in the 400 hurdles, entering with the best time in the state at 1:01.52.
Welch was fifth at Drake in the 400 hurdles and has run a 1:03.92 this year, third best in the state.