By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – The schedule at the state track and field meet can get a little bit chaotic.
For City High senior Emily Bywater the hustle and bustle of Thursday’s opening day at the state track meet was a walk in the park compared to what she did leading up to the meet.
“Yesterday was actually really crazy,” Bywater explained with a smile. “I had a presentation in English yesterday, a presentation in math, I turned in a German project three days early, I finished another German project, I had a choir concert and I got here at midnight. It was a big day yesterday.”
None of that could stop Bywater from turning in the best performance of her career in her final race in a City High uniform.,
Bywater placed fifth in the Class 4A 3,000 in a career-best time of 10:33.48, the seventh best time in City High history.
“That was awesome, just awesome,” City High coach Joe Graf said. “She put a lot of sunlight in our day today.”
Bywater entered the meet with the 15th best qualifying time at 10:54.94 and H=her previous career-best time was the 16th fastest in Class 4A this season.
The senior entered the final race of her career with the hope but not the expectation of a top-10 finish and a time of 10:39 or better.
She easily exceeded both.
“I honestly had no idea I would do this,” Bywater said. “I had a few goals going into the race. One of my goals was to get 10:39 or under and I did that and I thought it would be really cool to get into the top 10 or place but I had no idea I could be fifth.”
The race of her life came after a less than ideal pre-meet day for Bywater who didn’t arrive at the team hotel until after midnight after taking part in a choir concert.
Rather than use it as an excuse, Bywater saw her busy Wednesday as an advantage, keeping her mind of her pending career-ending race.
“It definitely helps to take my mind off of things for a little bit,” Bywater said. “Last night after the concert was when I started to concentrate on the race. It was good yesterday to have something else to think about.”
West High junior Bailey Nock ran away from the pack to win the event in 10:03.22 but Bywater established herself as a contender early and didn’t go away.
She held off Bettendorf senior Ally Gallagher by more than a second to finish fifth.
“There was nothing to lose for her she just went after it and I am really proud of her,” Graf said. “It sets a really good example for the younger girls who can see that leadership because she is our leader, she is a great leader that has done so much for our team.”
The fifth-place finish by Bywater accounted for all four team points for City High on Thursday and sends the Little Hawks into the final two days with a boost.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Graf said. “I thought eighth maybe but it was great for her to accomplish that and we will take that momentum and keep going.”