Your Prep Sports
The girls state track and field meet begins Thursday morning and concludes Saturday afternoon at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
In between 76 first-place finishes will be earned in 19 events across four classes.
Before the events get rolling on Thursday morning here is a breakdown of the qualifiers for each of the area teams.
Individual events qualified: Eight (800, 1,500, 3,000, 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, long jump, discus, shot put).
Relays qualified: Six (4×100, 4×200, 4×400, 4×800, distance medley, shuttle hurdle).
Athlete to watch: With five school records to her credit Valerie Welch is already one of the best ever at West High. A four-event qualifier for the fourth consecutive season, Welch will try to end her career on a high note this week. The Colorado recruit enters with the second best qualifying marks in the 110 hurdles and long jump and ran on the top-seeded distance medley relay team at districts.
Relay team to watch: Welch and junior distance ace Bailey Nock have helped West High on several different relays this season. At last week’s state qualifier the two teamed with Peyton Steva and Kitra Bell to help West High post the top time in the state this season in the distance medley at 4:06.15.
Outlook: West High posted its best finish and highest point total at state since 2011 last season, finishing fourth with 57 points. The Women of Troy return this season as legitimate title contenders prepared to push defending champion Waukee for the 4A crown. Led by Welch and Nock the Women of Troy have nine events that enter with top-five qualifying marks. Nock has top-six qualifying performances in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 while Chandler Haight (shot put) and Leah Dusterhoft (discus) both enter seeded second. Even without Welch, the shuttle hurdle team posted the third best qualifying time at districts and senior Gabby Skopec has top-9 qualifying times in both the 1,500 and 3,000.
Individual events qualified: Seven (800, 1,500, 3,000, 400 hurdles, high jump, discus, shot put).
Relays qualified: Five (4×100, 4×200, 4×800, sprint medley, distance medley).
Athlete to watch: Senior Luci Murphy couldn’t have picked a better time for the best performance of her career. Murphy posted the best throw of her career at the state qualifying meet with a toss of 40-9 in the shot put, fifth best among state meet qualifiers. Also, a qualifier in the discus, Murphy enters with the ninth best qualifying mark and will attempt to finish her career with her first state medal.
Relay team to watch: The foursome of Emma Clark, Azzura Sartini-Rideout, Tiara Green and Emma Cooper will be busy this week, qualifying in three different relays. The best chance for a top-eight finish for the Little Hawks could come in the 4×100 where City High enters with the 14th best qualifying time at 49.99.
Outlook: Murphy is the only City High qualifier seeded in the top 10 but the Little Hawks are still poised to surpass last year’s 3.5 points. Sophomore Merryl Green has the 11th best qualifying time while Emily Bywater enters with the 15th best time in the 3,000. The Little Hawks’ 4×800 team is the highest seed among the five state meet teams, entering with the 10th best time from qualifying meets.
Individual events qualified: Five (400, 110 hurdles, 400 hurdles, high jump, discus).
Relays qualified: Five (4×100, 4×200, 4×400, shuttle hurdle, sprint medley).
Athlete to watch: Sophomore Erin Kerkhoff will be busy in her second state meet appearance and first as a four-event qualifier. Kerkhoff enters with the fifth best qualifying time in the 400 and is a member of three Solon relay teams including the Spartans third-seeded 4×400 team.
Relay team to watch: The Solon 4×400 team of Taylor Ryan, Cayley Annis, Abby Smith and Kerkhoff has already set a new school record with a time of 4:01.87 and enters with the third best qualifying time from last week’s regional meets at 4:05.04.
Outlook: The Spartans are seeking a third consecutive top-10 finish and have the lineup to make it happen. Solon has six events with top-10 seeds including a pair of relays that enter with top-five qualifying times. Josie Durr is tied for the second best mark in 3A this season in the high jump clearing 5-6, freshman Gabbi Bullard has the fourth best time in the 400 hurdles and the 4×200 relay team of Taylor Ryan, Bryn Hanrahan, Abby Smith and Khaylor Fleck has the fifth best qualifying mark.
Individual events qualified: One (400).
Relays qualified: One (Sprint medley).
Athlete to watch: Senior Grace Swenning qualified in the 400 for the second consecutive year and will run the 400-meter anchor leg on the Regals sprint medley relay team.
Relay team to watch: The Regal sprint medley foursome of Madeline Adam, Elizabeth Klesner, Emma Corkery and Swenning clocked a season-best time of 1:54.75 to punch its ticked to the state meet.
Outlook: Last season Swenning was the lone qualifier for the Regals who added the sprint medley relay team to its list of qualifiers this season. Swenning enters with the 15th best qualifying time in the 400 while the Regal sprint medley team has the 24th best time from qualifying meets.
Individual events qualified: Two (400 hurdles, long jump).
Relays qualified: Three (4×200, 4×400, shuttle hurdle).
Athlete to watch: The final state track meet for Paige Miller will be a busy one for the West Branch senior. A four-event qualifier, Miller holds the top qualifying time in the 400 hurdles and is a member of all three West Branch relay teams.
Relay team to watch: The shuttle hurdle relay has become a tradition at West Branch over the past several years and Miller has been a big part of building that tradition. Miller has been a member of three consecutive top-four finishes for West Branch in the event including a state title in 2015. The foursome of Miller, Tatum Koenig, Kaiya Luneckas and Jaylen Votroubek enter with the third fastest qualifying time at 1:08.51.
Outlook: It’s quality over quantity for the Bears which have three of their five event entries seeded in the top four. West Branch likely won’t match its 31 points or sixth-place finish of 2015 but should well exceed the six points it scored at last season’s meet. The fourth-seeded 4×400 relay team joins Miller and the Bears’ shuttle hurdle team as top-four seeded entries.