BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – A cold, misty day didn’t stop the Fort Madison track teams from putting up some lofty numbers at the state track meet in Des Moines Friday afternoon.
After a Thursday afternoon that saw Sierra Howardson put up a personal best in the 3000, the Hounds took off again on Friday, starting with senior Brittiney Harris, who aside from a remarkable 37’9″ heave in district’s shot put, threw two of her highest throws all season.
The conditions were a stark comparison to the balmy districts in Mt. Pleasant. With a constant mist to slow rain and temps in the 50s were a bit different for the senior.
“It was cold and windy and it was harder to get warmed up,” she said after the event.
Harris’ first throw sailed just a bit to her right and landed at 33.1 which is right in the area where she had been throwing for most of the year. But her second throw sailed 35’3, a throw that earned her a 14th place finish. Her third attempt landed at 35′.05″, her third best throw on the year.
Harris, who’s still entertaining offers from Kirkwood and Iowa Lakes community colleges to play basketball and possibly volleyball, said she was a little more apprehensive in her first appearance at state.
“I was really nervous, a little bit more than districts,” Harris said.
Junior Elijah Barnes competed in the shot put for boys. Barnes had to use a borrowed shot because the state wouldn’t allow his regular shot due to some slight dings. Barnes scratched on his first attempt. Then regrouped and threw 41’6″ on his second toss and 44’9.5″ on his third attempt.
The girls distance medley team of Kamryn Bailey, Maddy McVey, Sierra Howardson and Brett Schneider finished 7th in their heat with a time of 4:29.72, which placed the team in 22nd in the state in that event.
Schneider said the splits were good on that run, the competition was just fierce.
“I thought our splits we’re really good, our sprinters did really good off the marks,” Schneider said.
Head Coach Brian Mendez agreed.
“You know 4:29’s a pretty good time. There’s just some really fast teams up here,” he said.
Schneider also ran in the 400-meter hurdles for just the sixth time and qualified for state on her fifth attempt at the event. On Friday she posted at 1:08.76 which was just outside the top 15 by .03 seconds.
“She was just really passionate about running that event. She wanted to compete in that because her mom did and she really ran well,” Mendez said.
“Everyone says their event is the toughest, but that 400 hurdle is a tough event.”
Schneider said she felt good off the gun.
“I thought my form was really good at the start, but then…I just got tired,” she said with a chuckle catching her breath. She said her mom ran the event at about 1:05 so she was about three seconds off.
She said running at Drake is a bit different due to the environment and surface.
“The track’s a little different but really there’s just a lot of noise and that’s unusual. But it really kind of helps keep you going,” she said.
In the final event of the afternoon for the Hounds, the boys distance medley team finished at 3:52.71 in 23rd place overall.
The team of Alex Gully, Joseph Grabowski, Quentin Schneider, and Aaron Steffensmeier ran in the first heat of the Class 3A.
Gully said he felt good about the race and the day.
“I felt really good and had good energy,” he said about the race. But he said he was more excited about gaining the experience.
“I was really happy when we made it. This has given me the experience and energy to come back next year,” the junior said.
Schneider, just a freshman, said he was really happy the team was able to come up. Schneider is Brett’s brother and neither of the two is ever short of a smile after a race and said track is generational for them.
“My mom and dad both ran track. Both of my sisters run and it’s just a lot of fun for our family,” he said.
Steffensmeier said it was exciting to race at the state meet. He said the surface is a bit different running on it.
“This track has a rail on the inside and that was different for me.”
The meet concludes on Saturday with Brett Schneider running in the girls 800-meter run, Sierra Howardson in the 1500-meter run, and Caleb Gehle in the wheelchair shot put, and wheelchair 100-meter and 200-meter races. Head girls coach Brian Mendez will also be honored in the afternoon for his years of service to the FMHS track program.