Your Prep Sports
DUBUQUE – A month ago, the West High track and field team could not stay within 30 points of archrival Iowa City High.
But on a night when bids to the next week’s state meet were being handed out, the Trojans nearly pulled off the kind of stunner that served notice to the rest of the Class 4A field that they will be ready to take on all comers.
“To be within six points of a district title, we are very pleased,” West High Coach Travis Craig said after the Trojans were edged in total points by the Little Hawks for the team title, 158-152, at a 4A district meet Thursday at Dubuque Senior High School. “With several qualifiers, as well, in a multitude of events. We are very happy with that.”
City High and West High easily distanced themselves from third-place Cedar Falls, who totaled 133 points.
In addition to the automatic state qualifiers 12 at-large bids will be awarded from the remaining performances in the other state-qualifying meets across the state.
West High junior Christian Janis earned a pair of automatic individual state bids with victories in the 100-meter dash (in 11.21) and the 200.
Janis also anchored a pair of victorious relay foursomes in the 4×200 relay (alongside senior Nate Gudenkauf and sophomores Izaiah Loveless and Todd Rent) and the 4×100 (with sophomore Todd Rent, Loveless and Gudenkauf).
“We weren’t satisfied with how we performed at Drake (Relays),” Janis said. “It is fueling us right now. We came out here, we came ready. We are putting in the work and we were ready to go today.”
Janis’ 200 time of 22.31 was incredibly just a hundredth of a second faster that Loveless.
Both will be in the 200 field when the state meet gets started May 19 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
“Those two guys have been working really hard together,” Craig said. “Obviously in relays, but also pushing each other which also helps Christian and Izaiah get better. The fact that they can push each other and qualify for state together is a special thing.”
Loveless also helped the Trojans to a win in the distance medley relay with Rent, sophomore Aidan Jacobsen and senior Alex McKane.
Jacobsen and McKane also earned automatic bids to state in individual events with a trio of runner-placements.
Jacobsen was second in the 400 hurdles, while McKane equaled the feat in both the 3,200 and the 1,600.
“Alex, unfortunately his sophomore year was canceled by COVID,” Craig said. “I think he has been waiting for this opportunity to come out. It has been a long season with lots of difficult weather and I think he is finally reaching the point where he feels he is at his best.”
As expected, City High will be well represented in Des Moines and likely considered one of the favorites for the 4A team title.
Its district crown delivered the Little Hawks to the state meet having never finished anywhere but first as a team in any competition this season.
“I don’t know if we have ever won a district title,” City High Coach Mike Moore said. “It has been a long time since and we are very proud of the young men for that. We had a few hiccups. We had some things not go well for us, but yet this team keeps persevering and keeps doing their thing and we have enough depth where we could win the meet. Now whether that will happen next week is still up in the air.”
The Little Hawks got the meet started with a win in the sprint medley relay in 1:34.55 using a foursome comprised of juniors Sam Rew, Mike Rew, Ronnie Major and senior anchor Jovan Harris.
A completely separate quartet – junior Truman Thompson, senior Patrick Sarsfield and juniors Ayman Noreldaim and Ammon Smith – claimed the 4×800 relay crown in 8:11.04.
“This is a tough team and they are going to battle next week and give us everything they have got,” Moore said. “We are certainly going to be in the hunt, but whether we have got enough ammunition to get there is another thing.”
City High won a whopping six individual events, highlighted by a pair of wins from junior distance runner Ford Washburn, who overcame cold symptoms that hindered his practice availability and still outran the field in the 3,200 and the 1,600.
“We didn’t even know if he was going to be able to run today,” Moore said. “He stuck around and stayed away, so maybe just having some rest for his legs maybe was not such a bad thing.”
City High senior TaeShon McDaniels also won two individual events with an outstanding shot put throw 51-11.00 and discus toss of 171-10.
It was a performance that has the Northern Iowa football signee eyeing the longstanding school records for each event at next week’s state meet.
“The shot record is 58 (feet), one inch,” McDaniels said. “And the discus record is 180 and a half inch. … (It would mean) a lot. A lot.”
City High junior Matt Schaeckenbach earned a pair of automatic individual state bids after he won the 110 hurdles in 15.32 and was runner-up in the high jump (6-2).
He also helped the City High shuttle hurdle relay team – with sophomore Phillip Kaplan and juniors Ian Moore and Austin Rindels – place second in 1:01.74, just five hundredths of a second behind winner Cedar Falls.
“He is a dude,” Moore said on Schaeckenbach. “He is a very versatile kid. He does a lot of great things for us, as well. So we are looking for him to have a big next week, too. Like he has all year.”
Junior Truman Thompson overcame a knee injury from the Drake Relays and won the 800 in 1:55.96, nearly a full second better than teammate Ammon Smith (1:56.87).
Harris posted a runner-up time of 50.61 in the 400 dash.
The unexpected push from rival West High at the district meet might just be the necessary fuel for City High to capture that elusive state title next week.
“Very excited,” McDaniels said. “Looking for a state championship. … We have just got to work it one day at a time.”