Your Prep Sports
Of all the high school athletic events in Iowa none offer the non-stop action of the state track and field meet.
The numbers tell the story at the state meet that opens Thursday morning and concludes Saturday afternoon at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Three days, four classes, 19 event titles up from grabs on both the boys and girls sides.
That is a lot of running, jumping and throwing to process in less than 72 hours so here are the first of three guides to help navigate the meet for fans of area athletes.
Leading into each day of the state track and field meet Your Prep Sports will take a look at five events, athletes, or storylines to follow on that day.
Up first is Thursday, the first of two days at the state meet divided into two sessions.
Classes 1A and 4A open things up in the morning with 2A and 3A following in the evening sessions.
There are three finals on the track in each class on Thursday (3,000 or 3,2000, 4×800 and 400) and two field event titles up for grabs in each class for both boys and girls.
Here are five things to pay attention to on Thursday.
Brinkman Chases His Title
Brinkman has posted career-best performances in each of his previous two trips to Drake Stadium but has come up short of a title each time.
First Brinkman launched a then career-best toss of 61-1 at last year’s state meet but was edged by ¾ of an inch by Kingsley-Pierson/Woodbury Central’s Nick Phelps for the 2A title.
At last months’ Drake Relays Brinkman unleashed a throw of 65-2 1/4, sixth best all-time in state history, but settled for a second straight runner-up finish behind Mount Vernon’s Tristan Wirfs.
Brinkman is intent on finishing the final meet of his high school career with his first state title.
The Regina senior and Northern Iowa football recruit enters with the top performance from qualifying meets (64-1) by more than three feet.
It figures to be Phelps and Brinkman battling for the title for the second straight season.
Phelps has the top effort in 2A this season at 65-10 ½ though Brinkman won the only head-to-head meeting between the two the Drake Relays.
Strong Start for Nock, West High
West High will need a strong weekend from junior distance stud Baily Nock to win the 4A title and Nock won’t have to wait long for a chance to get off to a good start.
Don’t read into her sixth-place qualifying time from last week’s state qualifier, this is an event West High expects Nock to win and she is more than capable of doing that.
Nock has run the fastest time in 4A this season at 10:00.13, more than 19 seconds faster than the next 4A competitor.
Teammate Gabby Skopec enters with the fourth best time in 4A this season giving West High the possibility of snagging a big double place and some huge team points in the first track final of the meet.
City High 4×800 Saving Best for Last
Last season the City High 4×800 relay team entered the state meet with a sub-eight-minute time under its belt but failed to duplicate that time in a seventh-place state finish.
City High is hoping to reverse that scenario this season.
The Little Hawks haven’t cracked eight minutes in the 4×800 this season but ran a season-best 8:02.41 at the state qualifying meet and head coach Mike Moore sees the potential for significant drop this week.
“There’s a high probability of them doing that next week,” Moore said of going under eight minutes. “Our coaches do a great job with those guys, they are trained right and have their best performance waiting for them.
Last year City High clocked its fastest time of the season at 7:57.9 on April 21 but ran an 8:00.36 to finish seventh at state.
The foursome of Jim McMillan, Jimmy Momberg, JP Rethwisch and Daniel Brown enter with the third best qualifying time and plan to drop that significantly on Thursday.
Greiner and Ali Set the Pace for West High
The West High boys have their own distance duo with the task of setting the early pace in the team race.
Sophomore Kolby Greiner and senior Ali Ali will try to get the Trojans off to a strong start with a double placing performance in the 3,200.
Ali and Greiner have proved this season they are capable of setting the table for a strong weekend for West High.
Greiner has the fifth fastest time in 4A this season at 9:19.75 and Ali is just more than a second back with the sixth fastest time at 9:20.9.
The West High duo is familiar with the two favorites in conference rivals Sam Schillinger of Cedar Falls (9:06.04) and Ryan Murphy of Linn-Mar (9:11.4).
Dusterhoft's Quest For An Unbeaten Season
Leah Dusterhoft got her breakthrough last month.
A three-time state place winner, Dusterhoft got her first win at Drake Stadium last month winning the Drake Relays discus title.
The West High senior will try to keep her winning streak alive on Thursday.
Dusterhoft is unbeaten in the discus this season and enters with the second-best throw in 4A this season after a career-best 134-8 toss at the state qualifier last week
Indianola senior Anna Hoyman did not compete at the Drake Relays and enters with the top throw in the state this season at 151-1.