Your Prep Sports
The start of the state track and field meet looms a little more than a week away.
Before athletes fill Drake Stadium in Des Moines for the three-day state track and field meet that is schedule for May 18-20 those athletes need to earn their spots at state.
That comes on Thursday with co-ed state qualifying meets being held across the state in all four classes.
In Class 4A the top two finishers in each event at each of the six qualifying meets secure automatic spots at the state meet along with the next 12 best performances in each event.
Classes 2A and 3A the top two finishers in each event from all eight qualifying meets earn automatic spots with eight additional qualifiers in each event.
In Class 1A it is the event winner at all 10 qualifying meets that are automatically in along with the next best 14 performances that qualifying for state.
Before the focus shifts to the state meet we take a look at what to watch at the state qualifying meets that feature teams from the Your Prep Sports area.
Class 4A Qualifier No. 2
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: Dalzell Field in Dubuque
Teams: West High; Liberty High; Cedar Falls; Clinton; Dubuque Hempstead; Dubuque Senior; Waterloo East; Waterloo West
Athlete to watch: West High junior Izaiah Loveless has emerged as one of the best sprinters in the state this season.
Loveless enters the state qualifying meet with top-10 times in the state this season in both the 100 (9th) and 200 (4th) and is a big part of the sprint relay success for the Trojans this season.
Loveless is a member of the West High 4×100 team that owns the fourth fastest time in the state at 42.19 and the Trojans’ 4×200 team that ranks second at 1:27.41.
Like every athlete Thursday for Loveless is about getting to state so an uneventful day for Loveless will be a good day as he enters with the top qualifying time in both the 100 and 200.
Event to watch: Da’Shon Fisher is coming off a strong all-around performance at the Mississippi Valley Conference divisional meet last week and the Liberty High senior will look to get off to a good start at his first state qualifying meet with a strong showing in the field events.
Fisher should be in the mix for an automatic qualifying spot in both the high jump and long jump but keep an eye on the high jump where Cedar Falls senior and Drake Relays champion Jacob Kieler is the favorite.
Kieler cleared 6-10 at Drake while Fisher has cleared 6-5 this season and Waterloo East senior Jameel Montgomery has cleared 6-4.
Breakdown: West High should be in the mix for a 4A team title at the state meet but the first step is a strong day on Thursday.
The Trojans showed their strength a week ago with a win at the MVC Valley Division meet and enter Thursday with the top seed in 12 events.
West High has the top time in six of seven relays, all but the 4×400 where the Trojans are second to Cedar Falls, and will look to lock up automatic bids across the board in the relay events.
With sprinters Todd Rent and Loveless, middle distance star Moustafa Tiea and standout junior Aidan Jacobsen the Trojans have top-end talent to match its depth.
Liberty High junior Aidan Decker has top-five qualifying times in both the 1,600 (5th) and 3,200 (4th) and should push for auto spots at state.
The Lightning have a number of individuals that should push for top-two finishes and auto bids to state.
Maxwell Thompson is seeded third in the 400 hurdles, Brady Cannon is third in the discus and Fisher is fourth in the long jump.
Class 4A Qualifier No. 4
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: North Scott High School in Eldridge
Teams: City High; Bettendorf; Burlington; Davenport Central; Davenport North; Davenport West; North Scott; Pleasant Valley
Athlete to watch: This comes with the disclaimer that with only two meets remaining in the prep career of Ford Washburn, the City High senior distance ace is always an athlete you want to watch.
However, the City High standout to keep an eye on Thursday is Matt Schaeckenbach.
Schaeckenbach enters with the top qualifying time in the 110 hurdles, 400 hurdles and high jump and should have no problem locking up automatic spots at state in all three events.
However, those are three events where a lot of things can happen.
A smooth day for Schaeckenbach on Thursday is a good thing for the Little Hawks and their team title chances in Des Moines.
Event to watch: Let’s say events to watch and include all four field events.
The strength for City High is on the track where the Little Hawks are going to rack up points next week on the Blue Oval inside Drake Stadium.
City High can get a big boost on Thursday and at the state meet with some solid field event efforts and the Little Hawks have the talent to get it done.
Senior Michael Etuma ranks sixth in 4A in the discus with a toss of 162-0 and Ronnie Major is fifth in the long jump with a leap of 22-1 ½.
Shamar Benton has cleared 6-3 in the high jump this season and would be a big boost for City High as a qualifier along with Etuma in the shot put.
Breakdown: Last year’s Class 4A state runner City High will look to contend for the 4A crown once again next week at the state meet.
Any championship run for City High must start with a solid effort on Thursday.
City High is the top seed in 11 events on Thursday including seven individual events.
Washburn is the top seed in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and Ammon Smith is the top seed in the 800.
City High has the top time among state qualifying meet teams in four relays (4×200, 4×400, 4×800 and distance medley) and has the second fastest time in two others (shuttle hurdle, sprint medley).
The Little Hawks can earn multiple individual qualifiers in the 110 hurdles, 1,600 and 800 and with a strong field event should set themselves up well for a title run next week.
Class 3A Qualifier No. 6
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: Mapleleaf Athletic Complex in Mount Pleasant
Teams: Clear Creek Amana; Solon; Fairfield; Fort Madison; Keokuk; Mount Pleasant; Washington; West Burlington/Notre Dame
Athlete to watch: Expect Clear Creek Amana senior Andrew Schlemme to be busy on Thursday.
Schlemme enters with the second fastest time in the 110 hurdles and will attempt to lock up an individual trip to the state meet with a top-two finish in that event.
Then will likely be a busy relay day for Schlemme who has helped the Clippers post top-four times among state qualifying meet times in three other relays.
Schlemme is part of the Clipper shuttle hurdle relay team that enters with the second fastest time at 1:02.38 trailing Mount Pleasant by a little more than half a second.
The sprint medley and 4×200 are possibilities for Schlemme as the Clippers have top-four times in both.
Event to watch: Solon junior Brick Kabela will attempt to secure automatic spots in both distance events on Thursday and to do so will need to battle through what will likely be a competitive 1,600 field.
Kabela has the second fastest time among state qualifying meet participants in the 3,200 at 9:56.29 trailing only Washington junior Micah Rees.
Kabela has the best 1,600 time at 4:33.37 just .51 seconds faster than Rees.
Clear Creek Amana sophomore Brock Hilsman enters with the third best time at 4:38.1 and should be in the thick of the 1,600 race.
Breakdown: A year ago Solon qualified seven events, including three relays for the state meet.
This season the Spartans enter their state qualifier the top seed in seven events including three relays.
While winning the WAMAC Conference meet in impressive fashion last Thursday Solon proved last it could be a factor in the 3A team race next week.
First the Spartans must put together a complete performance on Thursday.
Look for Solon to do damage in the field events where Ben Kampman has the top qualifying mark in the discus (174-5) and Oaken Foster enters the top seed in the high jump (6-5).
Senior Adam Smith is second in both the shot put (53-10) and discus (171-0).
In addition to Kabela in the distance events Michael Yeomans has the top time in the 800 (1:59.85) and Jeremy Bachus ranks second in the 400 (50.71).
Solon owns the top time in 4×400 (3:25.38), sprint medley (1:33.44) and distance medley (3:38.6) relays and is second in the 4×200 and 4×800.
Clear Creek Amana enters with the top time in the 4×800 (8:19.96) and has the third fastest time in the distance medley relay.
Class 2A Qualifier No. 7
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: Tipton City Park
Teams: West Branch; Camanche; Cardinal; Central Lee; Durant; Louisa-Muscatine; Mediapolis; Mid-Prairie; Tipton; Van Buren; West Liberty; Wilton
Athlete to watch: West Branch senior sprinter Evan Striegel has enjoyed a stellar final season and will look to end things with a bang next week at the state meet.
First, Striegel and his West Branch teammates need to take care of business at the state qualifier.
Striegel has the third best 200 meter time among state qualifying meet participants at 22.8 which ranks 15th in the state this spring.
Mediapolis senior Anthony Isley is the 2A leader in the 200 at 22.33 and will be tough to beat for the top spot but Striegel could be in additional qualifier territory.
Striegel anchors the West Branch 4×100 and 4×200 relays that both enter with top 14 times in 2A this season.
Event to watch: There may not be an event (outside of hurdles) that has track coaches holding their breath in the postseason any more than the 4×100 relay.
West Branch showed at the RVC meet last week it can contend at state in the 4×100 when it ripped off a season best 43.57 to win the conference title.
The West Branch foursome of Carver Boelk, Zach Walker, Wyatt Fiderlein and Striegel enter with the top time at the qualifier and the fourth fastest time in 2A this season.
West Branch has challengers for the top spot in the 4×100 namely RVC rival Camanche (44.21) and Isley-anchored Mediapolis (44.5) but should be moving on to state if it handles business with a clean run on Thursday.
Breakdown: Last season West Branch had just one relay among the four events it sent to the state meet.
That should change this season.
Led by its 4×100 squad West Branch has five relays with top 25 times in Class 2A this season and depending how the Bears structure their lineup on Thursday most of those should be in contention to secure a spot at state.
The 4×200 team of Boelk, Walker, Fiderlein and Striegel rank 14th in 2A this season and are third among teams at the state qualifier with a time of 1:32.75.
The West Branch 4×400, 4×800 and distance medley teams are all ranked fourth among teams at the state qualifiying meet and have top-25 times in 2A this season
Junior thrower Reese Trepanier enters in the top five in both throwing events and is 31st in 2A in the discus this season and 32nd in the shot put.
Class 1A Qualifier No. 10
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: WACO High School in Wayland
Teams: Regina; Columbus; Danville; Highland; Hillcrest Academy; Keota; Lone Tree; Moulton-Udell; New London; Pekin; Sigourney; WACO; Wapello; Winfield-Mount Union
Athlete to watch: Regina junior Drew Streb should contend for a state tournament spot in both the shot put and the discus, entering the state qualifying meet as a top-three seed in both throwing events.
Streb enters third among state qualifying participants in the shot put with a toss of 45-8 which ranks 32nd in 1A this spring.
The discus is the strength for Streb who has the 13th best mark in 1A this season with a toss of 146-8 at the River Valley Conference meet in Tipton last Thursday.
Streb will have his hands full earning an auto spot at the state meet with WACO senior Oleh Shtefanchuk the favorite in the discus.
Shtefanchuk ranks third in 1A this season with a toss of 160-2 but with a strong effort on Thursday Streb can put himself in a solid spot for an additional qualifying spot.
Event to watch: The 800 could be one of the most enjoyable races of the night with Regina sophomore Samuel Welter in the hunt for a title and an automatic qualifying spot at the state meet.
Welter enters with the 14th fastest time in 1A this season at 2:03.16 but is just third among state qualifying participants trailing New London senior Rylan Martin (1:59.86) and Winfield-Mount Union sophomore Kohlby Newsom (2:00.24).
Breakdown: Regina drops down to 1A this season and will look to improve on the five events it qualified for the 2A state meet last season.
Streb and Welter each enter with top-15 efforts in Class 1A this season and the Regina 4×100 team has the 11th fastest time in 1A this season.
The Regal 4×100 foursome of Alex Jensen, Colin Olney, Levi Daniel and Jackson Naeve is seeded second at the state qualifying meet with a time of 44.93 and will get to gauge itself against the odds on favorite to claim the 1A title in the event on Thursday.
Columbus enters with the top 4×100 time in 1A this season at 42.79 which is nearly half a second faster than any other 1A team and ranks ninth in the state in all classes.