By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – For the better part of three seasons Valerie Welch got bits of advice, tips or motivation from West High head coach Mike Parker before each race.
Sometime during her senior season the pre-race talks began to get shorter before Welch lined up for the 100 hurdles.
By the time the final race of her prep career came on Saturday at the Class 4A state track and field meet at Drake Stadium the speech was as short as ever.
“My coach has pretty much stopped giving me advice before 100 hurdles, he just says ‘you know what to do go have a good race’,” Nock explained. “When it comes to this race I just run.”
Welch followed Parker’s instructions and just ran in the 100 hurdles on Saturday and in the process cemented her status as one of the best to ever wear a West High uniform.
The Colorado recruit won her third state title of the meet, blazing a 14.48 to become the first 100 hurdle champion in West High history.
Welch finished .23 seconds in front of runner-up Hannah Schau of Waukee to claim her fourth straight state medal in the 100 hurdles.
The 14.48 was just off the time of 14.43 that Welch won to win the Drake Relays title last month.
“I gave her the same instructions I gave her at Drake,” Parker said. “I said ‘those girls can’t beat you, you are too good, go do your thing’.”
Welch certainly did her thing at the state meet this weekend.
She added titles in the distance medley relay and long jump and finished third in the 400 hurdles.
“Honestly it was the best I could have hoped for,” Welch said. “After all the work I have put in the last four years to get three straight state championships and third place in the 400 hurdles out of the 2nd heat, it’s awesome.
Friday was the heavy lifting day for Welch.
She clocked a 14.73 in the 100 hurdle prelims in between her long jump title, 400-meter leg in the distance medley and her third-place finish in the 400 hurdles.
Welch admitted she was a little sore and very nervous for the final event of her prep career on Saturday but lost both of those sensations just a few meters into the race.
“I was really nervous and my muscles were kind of tired from yesterday,” Welch said. “I knew when I got to that first hurdle it was going to be a good race.”
The 100 hurdle title capped a brilliant career for Welch that has included 14 state medals and five school records.
She leaves West High as the school record holder in the long jump, 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles and was a member of record holding shuttle hurdle and distance medley relay teams.
“She has meant so much to our program,” Parker said. “I am just so happy for her.”
The 100 hurdles offered a fitting end for Welch.
It is the lone event she has earned a medal in all four years, finishing no worse than sixth in the event in four tries.
Welch was third at state in the 100 hurdles last year and runner-up as a sophomore in 2015.
“It’s safe to say I would have been more than disappointed if I didn’t end with a championship,” Welch said. “After winning at Drake and getting third last year I was really looking forward to winning this race so it was a great way to end it.”