BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – With personal records falling all over the place and medals being thrown around people’s necks, it’s been a pretty darned good day for Fort Madison at the Iowa State Track and Field meet Friday at Drake University.
Senior Elijah Barnes took 4th in the Class 3A boys shotput with a throw of 53′-7.75″, a new personal best for him, while Brett Schneider was just edged by an arm in the second heat of the 400-meter hurdles at 1:06.22 good enough for 6th place overall….and about a half second ahead of her mom Carrie’s state time in the same event.
“It’s going to be good at home now,” Schneider said as she watched the last heat of the event come in. “No. I’m sure she’s really happy for me.”
Schneider led most of the way around the blue oval, at times with about a six-foot lead coming around turn three.
“My number 1 strategy was to stride out when I was coming up to the hurdle. That’s what I did and it worked.”
She said that was her best time of the year by about a full second.
“I just saw an open track. I was in lane 5 and I just said ‘I got a good lane and I should win this race’.”
Schneider had the lead in her heat until just after the last hurdle when Aricka Lambson of Carlisle pulled ahead two steps from the line at 1:05.99. Lambson took 3rd overall. Katie Nimrod of Decorah won the event running away with a 1:03.14 time, a full 2.6 seconds ahead of the pack.
Barnes, who struggled at least year’s state meet after getting his shot disqualified for a dent and managed a 44′-9″ throw with a borrowed shotput, made amends this year.
Going into the event seeded sixth, Barnes quickly got to work with a 53′-7.75″ throw in the first round of the second flight. A throw that would hold up as the fourth best of the day.
Barnes scratched on his first two throws in the final and had a sub 50′ throw on his last attempt. He stood in third place going into the finals, but Vinton-Shellburg’s Cole Overton threw a 53′-10.75″ on his first round throw to bump Barnes to 4th.
Barnes said getting that first good throw helped take the pressure off the rest of the rounds.
“That took a lot of pressure off,” he said. “Obviously things didn’t pan out the way we wanted as I scratched a lot of throws after that, but it took a lot of pressure away and I was able to just unleash.”
Throwing coach Andrew Troxel, whose home state is Wisconsin, promised to put on an Iowa Hawkeye shirt if Barnes threw over 53″. Good to his word, Troxel bought a shirt and put it on for pictures afterward. He bocked at wearing it during the medal ceremony, despite prodding from Barnes.
Troxel said Barnes has been a good student of the sport.
“He’s exceptional. I’ve never met anyone so determined to take a perfomance to the next level,” Troxel said. “He’ll come in and work on his own on the little things until they’re mastered.”
Troxel said helping convert Barnes from a glider thrower to a rotational thrower was the key to this year’s success.
“He went from a glider to a rotational thrower this year,” Troxel said. “His ability to concentrate on those things and research those things is uncanny. It’s amazing working with this guy. He’s more of a thought-partner than anything else.”
Barnes agreed with the assessment.
“My mindset was to come in and try winning. That’s for any competitor, no matter where you’re sitting,” Barnes said. “I went up three spots from 7th to 4th and going in and changing the form and having a second pair of eyes and someone to talk to about ideas and find what best fits me is really what made this year different.”
Barnes will be signing with Indian Hills Track and Field team later this month.