What to watch on Thursday on the Opening Day of the State Track and Field Meet
Your Prep Sports
The 2023 state track and field meet gets underway on Thursday morning at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Once again the Your Prep Sports area will feature some of the best individuals and teams in the state.
The three days at Drake Stadium will be filled with outstanding individual efforts and several area teams should be in the thick of the team race.
Here are five things to watch on the opening day of what will be a busy and exciting week.
Washburn Back to Defend His Title
One of the best distance runners in state and City High history City High senior Ford Washburn will look to add another state title to his already stellar career resume.
Washburn will open what is expected to be an emphatic end to a brilliant career in the Class 4A 3,200 on Friday.
The Northern Arizona recruit is the defending champion in the event winning last year by more than eight seconds in a time of 9:05.35.
Washburn enters with the fastest time in the state this season, setting a City High school record with the third-fastest time in state history at 8:54.04.
The state meet record in the 3,200 is 8:50.43 set by Thomas Pollar of Gilbert in 2014 and the 4A record is 9:00.97 held by Josh Evans of Linn-Mar.
City High Seeks Strong Team Start
Defending 4A runner-up City High will look to be right back in the thick of the 4A team race this week.
If the Little Hawks are going to make a serious push at the 4A title a strong start on Thursday is a must.
There are five event finals on Thursday and City High has top-10 qualifying times in four of them.
Washburn is the favorite in the 3,200 and City High will look to add a title in the 4×800 where it has the fastest time in 4A this season at 7:47.84.
The City High 4×800 foursome of Truman Thompson, Washburn, Ayman Noreldaim and Ammon Smith won Drake Relays gold last month finishing in front of runner-up Johnston which has the second best time at 7:52.46.
A strong field event start for the Little Hawks would be huge.
Senior Matt Schaeckenbach is second in the high jump and has cleared 6-10 ¼ this season, good for second best in the state, and senior Michael Etuma has the sixth best mark in 4A in the discus this season.
Tate Seeks High Jump Title
One of the better stories of the track and field season has been the emergence of West High senior Meena Tate in the high jump.
An all-state basketball player headed to play at Dartmouth next season, Tate has made the most of her first season of prep track and field, qualifying for the state meet in both the high jump and long jump.
Tate can be a real factor in the 4A high jump competition.
The senior has cleared 5-5 this season which is fourth best in 4A this season and just an inch off of the second-best effort.
Waukee senior Josie Moreland is the 4A leader clearing 5-8 this spring.
Solon Girls Start Title Defense
The Solon girls are steadily approaching juggernaut status in Class 3A.
The defending 3A champion Spartans qualified every event for the state meet and will look to continue a dominant run this season.
Another title will start with a strong day on Thursday.
Junior Gracie Federspiel has emerged as star and will look to secure the first individual title of her career in the 400.
Federspiel enters with the top time in 3A this season at 56.67 while Reese Brownlee of Clear Lake has the second fastest time at 57.31.
Solon’s chances to defend its team title would get a big boost on Thursday if the Spartans can defend their 4×800 crown.
Federspiel anchors a Solon 4×800 squad that enters with the second fastest time in 3A this season at 9:41.9.
Open 800 state qualifier Anna Quillin, Grace Hoeper and Ashlyn Williams join Federspiel on the Spartan 4×800 squad that trails on Gilbert (9:37.22) for the top time in 3A this spring.
Senior Kayla Young has the seventh fastest time in the 3,000 (10:44.14) this season and will look to add points on a big opening day for Solon.
Solon Throwers Set the Tone
Following the state qualifying meet solon senior sprinter Blake Timmons praised the Spartan field event athletes for setting the tone on an outstanding day.
One of the strengths all season for the Spartans has been its throwers and Adam Smith and Ben Kampman will have a chance to again get the Spartans off to a strong start on Thursday in the discus.
Kampman has the fourth best mark in 3A this season at 174-5 while Smith has the sixth best effort at 171-0.
A big day from its throwers and a strong effort in the 400 from senior Jeremy Bachus who was fourth in the event a year ago would be a stellar start for Solon which has big goals this week.
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