Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – Luke Ira wasn’t sold on the hurdles in junior high.
Ira gave the event a try at the urging of Solon coaches but didn’t know if he’d stick with it.
Then he watched Connor Ham win a few state titles in the event and he was hooked.
“In eighth grade I was hurdling and it was going o.k. but when I was a freshman Connor kind of took me under his wing,” Ira said. “He was the one that really got me going.”
Ham was just finishing up a stellar prep career that saw him win three consecutive 3A 110 hurdle crowns when Ira was a freshman.
Now a member of the Northern Iowa track team, Ham took the time to work with Ira on a daily basis in an attempt to continue the hurdling tradition when he left.
After missing the state finals last year Ira got the Spartans back into the 110 hurdle hardware with a fifth place finish on Saturday at the Class 3A state meet at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
“When you set up a program that is what you want them to build those relationships that help each other go a long ways and do the right things and make the right choices,” Solon coach Mark Sover said. “They had that kind of relationship.”
The fifth-place finish was the first medal for Ira in his third trip to state.
He was a member of the Solon shuttle hurdle relay team in 2015 and qualified in the 110 hurdles last year finishing 16th.
On Saturday, Ira gave Solon a medal in the event for the fourth time in five seasons.
“He taught me a lot and it’s helped me a ton,” Ira said of Ham. “I don’t think I would be where I am if he didn’t teach me what he knew.”
Ira spent his entire season trying to break the 15-second barrier.
He finally did that with a career-best time of 14.88 at the district meet, the second best qualifying mark in Class 3A.
“That is what it was, a confidence boost for him because he has the ability to do some really good things,” Sovers said. “He made all the right choices and did everything that we asked him to do and the process paid off for him and that is what I was most excited about.”
Ira followed that up with a 14.87 in the prelims on Friday before clocking a 15.27 to place fifth.
Boone senior Lantz Reed won the title in 14.68.
“It’s a technical event and as long as you are willing to spend the time on it and work on that technique part you are going to be a good hurdler,” Sovers said. “Not everyone is willing to do that and that’s what separates Luke from everyone else is he is a detail oriented person.
West High didn’t get the top-three finish it was seeking this weekend but it was still a weekend of great progress for the Trojans.
The Trojans finished ninth in the 4A team standings with 35 points, cracking the top ten for the first time since 2014.
West High was 29th in 2015 and 18th last year with 15 points.
Sophomore Kolby Greiner finished seventh in the 1,500 in 4:21.06 and senior Derek Nugent was seventh in the 800 in 1:56.53.
The West High sprint medley relay team of Kimball Henstrom, Trumell Roberts, Gabe Caruthers and Austin West finished sixth in 1:33.09.
Going Out On a High Note
Paige Miller ended her career with a state medal on Saturday.
Miller anchored the Bears’ 4×400 relay team to a sixth-place finish in a season-best time of 4:06.33.
It was the second medal in as many days for Miller who finished third in the 400 hurdles on Friday.
She joined freshman Jaylen Votroubek and Kaiya Luneckas and junior Tatum Koenig on the 4×400 team.
Perfect Time to Peak
The West High shuttle hurdle relay team picked the perfect time to turn in its best times of the season.
West High’s foursome of Cole Mabry, Max Hill Caden Fedeler and Javonte Williams ran season-best times in each of their final three races to end the season, finishing sixth on Saturday in 58.82.
The group ran a then season-best time of 59.28 at the district meet and lowered that to 59.01 in the Class 4A prelims on Thursday.
West High took it a step further on Saturday, dropping below 59 seconds to earn a state medal.
Ankeny Centennial won in 56.23.