Your Prep Sports
The high school track season is flying right along.
Conference meets on Thursday across the state mark the start of the postseason which ends with the state track and field meet May 19-21 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Before moving on to state qualifiers next Thursday and the state meet the week after there are conference titles to be won and several area teams should be in the hunt for hardware on Thursday.
Here is a quick breakdown of the conference meets featuring teams from the Your Prep Sports area.
MVC Mississippi Divisional
Where: Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids
Teams: City High, Liberty High; Cedar Falls; Cedar Rapids Washington; Cedar Rapids Prairie; Linn-Mar; Dubuque Wahlert; Western Dubuque
Team title chase: This week opens what City High hopes is a memorable May stretch that ends with a 4A state title.
The Little Hawks have shown this season they are more than capable of making that a reality.
City High is loaded with individual talent across the lineup evidence by its six individual top qualifying marks and enters as the favorite to claim the team title after a third-place finish a year ago.
To get the title City High has to go through a pair of perennial powers in defending Mississippi Division champion Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Linn-Mar was fifth a year ago but has a solid lineup top to bottom that should put the Lions in position for a spot in the top two with a strong meet.
Athlete to watch: City High senior Jovan Harris has shown throughout a stellar senior season why City High coach Mike Moore calls Harris one of the best track and field athletes in the state.
Harris has the top qualifying time in both the 200 (22.07) and 400 (49.91) and owns the second fastest time among divisional athletes in the 400 hurdles (55.3).
The senior standout is also a part of the City High distance medley team that owns the fastest qualifying time at 3:28.7 and has been a part of two other relays that have posted top three times among divisional squads.
Event to watch: Few things in track and field are more exciting than a good 100-meter showdown.
That is what should be on tap for Thursday night as Cedar Rapids Washington standout Miles Thompson and Liberty High senior Luke Meyers square off.
Thompson has the fastest time in the state this season at 10.56 and Meyers isn’t far off with a top time of 10.71.
At the Drake Relays last week Thompson ran 10.95 in a runner-up finish while Meyers was fourth in 11.08.
Cedar Rapids Washington junior Michael Blank has also gone under 11 seconds this season at 10.91.
Breakdown: City High has state title hopes this season and the March through May begins with a conference title quest on Thursday.
With Harris and junior stars Ammon Smith and Ford Washburn the Little Hawks have the top time in every event from the 200 to the 3,200.
There is even more talent with the likes of Matt Schaeckenbach, Truman Thompson, Ronnie Major and TaeShon McDaniels.
The field is strong with Linn-Mar and Cedar Falls and don’t forget Liberty High which was fourth with 89.5 points last season.
Meyers is a sprint stud and Eric Lucas has the top qualifying time in the 110 hurdles at 14.43.
MVC Valley Divisional
When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Cedar Rapids Xavier High School
Teams: West High; Cedar Rapids Jefferson; Cedar Rapids Kennedy; Cedar Rapids Xavier; Dubuque Hempstead; Dubuque Senior; Waterloo West; Waterloo East
Team title chase: Last season we called this the tightest conference race to call heading into the meet and it lived up to the hype with the top three teams separated by just 8.5 points.
This season it should be another tight battle at the top with mainly the same squads battling it out.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy edged Dubuque Hempstead and West High for the title a year ago and the Cougars will be very much in the mix again.
West High has the most balanced roster and an advantage in the relays makes the Trojans the slightest of favorites.
Athlete to watch: West High junior sprinter Christian Janis has emerged in a big way this spring with a breakthrough season.
Coming off a broken collar bone in the football season Janis has been exceptional this spring and enters with the top time in the 200 (22.18) the second fastest time in the 100 (11.17) and anchors the West High 4×100 and 4×200 relay teams that both own the fastest time among divisional teams.
Event to watch: Conference meets often offer previews of matchups to come in state qualifiers or even the state meet and that could be the case in the 400 hurdles where two of the best in the state square off.
West High sophomore Aidan Jacobsen and Dubuque Senior’s Matthew Kruse have posted the top two times in Class 4A this season.
Jacobsen has clocked a 54.78 and Kruse is right behind with a season-best 54.9.
Kruse edged Jacobsen in a head-to-head meeting at the Drake Relays last week finishing fifth in 54.9 while Jacobsen was sixth in 55.12.
Breakdown: Once again the Valley Divisional shapes up as one of the most intriguing team races around.
West High has the roster to claim the title behind Janis, Jacobsen and senior distance ace Alex McKane.
Those three athletes have a combined four top qualifying times and the Trojans also have the top time in both the 4×100 and 4×200 relays and have the second fastest time in three other relays.
Defending champion Cedar Rapids Kennedy does much of its heavy lifting in the field events where the Cougars have the top qualifying mark in three events (high jump, discus, shot put) and have the second best qualifying mark in the long jump.
Dubuque Senior could be in the mix as well behind a big meet from Kruse.
WAMAC Conference Meet
When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Dyersville Beckman High School
Teams: Clear Creek Amana; Solon; Dyersville Beckman; Benton Community; Center Point-Urbana; Independence; Maquoketa; Marion; Mount Vernon; Vinton-Shellsburg; West Delaware; Williamsburg; South Tama
Team title chase: Clear Creek Amana pulled away from a crowded field to win the first WAMAC title in program history last season.
The Clippers have their sights set on back-to-back titles and have a roster capable of pulling it off.
Led by senior standouts Gavin Zillyette and Harrison Rosenberg the Clippers are the favorites but will have to outlast a solid group of contenders that includes 2021 runner-up Marion, Solon and Benton Community.
Athlete to watch: With his ability to run the 400 and 800 at a high level Zillyette will be a key relay piece for Clear Creek Amana somewhere on Thursday and throughout the postseason.
However the Illinois State recruit is also a threat to win a couple of individual titles with the top time in both the 800 and 400 hurdles.
Zillyette has clocked a 1:59.38 in the 800 good for sixth in 3A this season and his 55.48 in the 400 hurdles is the second fastest in Class 2A.
Event to watch: Every team has a different strategy when it comes to putting together a lineup for a conference meet.
Take a quick glance at the 4×200 lineup for this one and if the top seeds have loaded their squads make sure you don’t miss it.
Four of the top seven 4×200 times in Class 3A this season are out of the WAMAC conference including 3A leader Benton Community which finished 11th at the Drake Relays and has run a 1:29.78 this season.
Mount Vernon in second in 3A this season with a 1:31.06.
Clear Creek Amana was a Drake Relays qualifier in the event, ranks fourth in 3A at 1:31.37 and can be a major factor with its top lineup as can Solon which ranks seventh in 3A this season running a 1:31.67.
Breakdown: Clear Creek Amana and Solon should once again push for top three spots and again the strength for both is the team element.
The Clippers have top-end talent with Zillyette, Rosenberg, Gage Freeman and Ben Swails but rely heavily on their relays to do the heavy lifting.
The Clippers have four relays (shuttle hurdle, sprint medley, 4×100 and 4×200) ranked in the top five in Class 3A this season.
Solon uses a similar formula.
The Spartans aren’t going to win a bunch of individual events but they have the depth and strength across the lineup to push for another strong finish.
River Valley Conference Meet
When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m.
Where: Dean Nelson Field in Monticello
Teams: Regina; West Branch; Anamosa; Bellevue; Camanche; Cascade; Durant; Mid-Prairie; Monticello; North Cedar; Northeast; Tipton; West Liberty; Wilton
Team title chase: A year ago this was perhaps the toughest race to call and it should be wide open again at the top.
Bellevue edged Monticello for the team title last season but this year’s race expects to come down to the teams that finished fourth and fifth last season.
On paper Mid-Prairie is the favorite over Tipton.
Athlete to watch: Regina senior Carson Jensen earned three medals at the RVC meet last season and will look for an even better performance in his final conference meet.
Jensen was runner-up in the 400 last season and enters with the second fastest qualifying mark in his signature event this season.
Jensen has run a 50.75 in the 400 this spring which ranks fifth in 2A and trails only Cole Miller of Cascade (50.24) among RVC competitors.
A RVC medalist in the 100 and 200 a year ago, Jensen has run a 23.51 200 and a 2:06.06 800 this season giving him the ability to help Regina across a wide variety of relays during the postseason.
Event to watch: With three of the top eight runners in Class 2A separated by just more than three seconds the 3,200 should be one of the most entertaining races of the day.
Tipton freshman Clay Bohlmann, Mid-Prairie senior Thaddeus Shetler and Regina sophomore Aidan O’Neil all rank in the top eight in 2A this season.
Bohlmann has the top qualifying time at 9:55.21 followed by Shetler at 9:57.86 and O’Neil with a season-best time of 9:58.51.
Breakdown: Mid-Prairie and Tipton should battle for the title in what figures to be another tight team race.
The objective for West Branch and Regina on Thursday will be climbing the conference ladder.
Regina was 12th last season with 16 points and West Branch was 13th with 10.5.
With the RVC well known as one of the top 2A conferences in the state moving up won’t be easy but both teams have rosters capable of putting up points with strong performances.