DES MOINES - It wasn’t the place (12th) nor the points (22) Glenwood track coach Mark Starner hoped for coming out of the Iowa State Track Meet but there is one thing his team did take away from its three days at state that excites the coach.
Of the 12 events the Glenwood boys qualified for at state, all but one of the athletes in those spots will be back next season.
“We took two freshmen and we had just one senior at state,” said Starner. “We scored 22 points and we have a lot of those kids coming back. Fortunately for us we have just one kid to replace. Now hopefully some of our young kids can come in and improve and help us compete next year at the state meet.
“Any experience you get on the blue oval is always good. We had higher expectations than we finished and I thought we missed some opportunities this year but we’re pleased with what we did.”
Sioux City Heelan was the Class 3A state champion with 51 points. Algona was second with 45 and Waverly-Shell Rock was third with 37 points.
Leading the pack for Glenwood with three medals at state was long-distance runner Johnny Fuller. Fuller, a star at the Drake Relays earlier this season, winning both the 3,200 and 1,600 among all-classes in April, qualified for both at state. While he was nipped at the finish line by Boone’s Austin Brogan in a rainy and cold 3,200 and placed third to first place Brogan and second place Evan Selsor in Saturday’s 1,600, the junior still grabbed 14 crucial points by himself.
Fuller also ran a leg on the Rams’ 4x800-meter relay team that placed seventh for his third medal. Fuller is the first Ram since Matt Jens in 2000 to win three medals at the same state track meet.
Starner said Fuller is disappointed but counseled his star runner not to be disappointed with coming back from state with medals.
“When you go in with some of the hype we had its hard not to disappointed,” Starner said. “Johnny felt like he had some pressure on him. We tried to explain there’s no pressure at all, the thing is you just have to come out and do your best. Johnny will tell you that (1,600) wasn’t his best race.”
Ian Eflin qualified in three events at state. The junior ran a 15.59 in the 110-meter high hurdles to earn third place and ran a leg on the Rams’ distance medley relay that just missed qualifying for a medal, placing ninth. Eflin, the Hawkeye 10 Conference champion in the high jump, failed to get out of the second round of the that event. After clearing 6-foot-2 most of the season, Eflin couldn’t top 6-feet on Thursday.
In the 800-meters, Kyle Wheeler, a two-time Hawkeye 10 champion, placed sixth. Wheeler got boxed in early in a crowded field that included teammate Mark Abrams, just had too much ground to make up over the final 300 meters to place in the top
three, said Starner.
Abrams finished 22nd in the 800.
Freshman Derek Jones was 18th in the 400-meter hurdles and Cole Darrow was 21st in the long jump.
Junior Eliot Lincoln grabbed a 16th place finish in the 400-meters.
On the girls’ side, Glenwood got medals from sophomore Shaniece Nott in the 100-meters and its shuttle hurdle relay team and placed 29th as a team. Mount Vernon/Lisbon was the Class 3A champions with 92 points.
The shuttle hurdle team of Abby Brown, Devin Jackson, Kassie Finn and Mercedes Liparoto, the Hawkeye 10 champions in the same event, ran a 1:10.33 to qualify for the finals and then ran a 1:07.65 in the finals to place fourth. The finals’ time was the Rams’ season-best.
“Some people around southwest Iowa thought they were too far out to qualify for the finals because of their performance at the regional meet,” said Glenwood coach Brad Rasmussen. “We knew if they ran their race, they would get into the finals.”
Nott entered state with the 14th best qualifying time. But the sophomore bettered that performance in the preliminaries and placed seventh in 12.86.
“Shaniece ran one of her best races of the year,” said Rasmussen. “She came out of the blocks better and ran solid throughout the race.”
Lexi Fisher, a two-time state qualifier in the 400-meter hurdles, ran a 1:10.2 but was disqualified following a judge’s decision.
The Rams’ 4x800-meter relay team of Megan McKern, Ashley Grave, Emily Blum and Katie Larsen placed 23rd.