BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MT. PLEASANT – The Fort Madison Bloodhound boys track team may have saved the best for last… almost.
The Hounds will send at least six to next weekend’s Iowa High School State Track meet after qualifying in at least four events at Thursday night’s district qualifier in Mt. Pleasant. Fort Madison is waiting on time qualifications in three other events.
The Lady Hounds will send Raquel Schneider in the 400 hurdles.
The state meet starts Thursday morning on the blue oval at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
The boys got a literal jump start to the day when Mikey DiPrima and Jakob McGowan went 1-2 in the long jump. DiPrima set a personal best on his final jump of the day needing 20-6″ to surpass Davenport Assumption’s Kade Kreinbring. DiPrima landed a 20-9″ jump after scratching on his second jump to leap frog Krienbring and teammate McGowan for the top spot.
McGowan scratched once in preliminaries and had a best 20-6.25″ in the finals to secure second place. McGowan’s best of the year is 20-11″
DiPrima said he don’t know where the extra distance came from. The 20-9″ is almost a full foot over his previous best.
“I don’t really know where it came from. I just did what the coach said and jumped up and lean forward. I guess it works,” he said.
“I was just thinking I had to make a 20-5″ or a 20-6″ to make it to state and I put everything I had into it.”
McGowan said he was having trouble with his steps and actually scratched running through the pit, but was able to put that aside and get to the finals.
“My steps were off at first and then I got some nerves going. I had some stutter steps, but then I got that straightened out. This feels really good. All the hard work is paying off,” he said.
The Bloodhounds then went seven events without qualifying anyone until junior Dayton Davis put up a 51.71 in the 400-meter dash good enough for second place. All first- and second-place finishers advance to the state meet.
Davis’ time was 1.2 seconds off the pace of Washington Elijah Morris.
“It feels good, but I was definitely dead tired after,” Davis said.
“I was very nervous because the two guys behind me were seeded about .5 second slower so that made me nervous. My goal was to run as close as I could to the dude in first and if I did that I could get second. But at the 200 mark I knew I was doing okay.”
Davis also anchored Fort Madison’s 4×400 relay team in the final event of the night. The Bloodhounds were seeded 3rd in the event, but ended up winning the event outright.
Brock Califf ran the first leg and gave Fort Madison a slight lead at the first exchange with Garrett Hannum. Hannum kept Clear Creek-Amana at bay until a choppy hand-off let the Clippers slip in front of Andrew Schaefer on the first turn, but Schaefer would overtake CC-A’s Keyan Gisleson on the final stretch and handed to Dayton Davis who took things home from there for a 3:29.80, a full second ahead of the Clippers.
The Bloodhounds would also qualify with a first-place finish in the 4×200 relay. That team of Califf, McGowan, Schaefer and Hannum motored to a 1:31.97, just .09 ahead of Jace Figueroa’s final leg for West Burlington-Notre Dame.
Hannum said the Hounds knew their seed time was one of the top two, but they were just hoping to qualify.
“I just wanted to have a smooth handoff and then get out fast and not look back at all. Just keep looking forward. I was hoping to qualify, but I didn’t think we’d win it,” he said.
“I’m just glad to get a chance as a senior to go. It was my last chance and it felt really good to cross that line first.”
Coach Mike Schneider said the performances are a result of how hard the kids have worked and the culture of the athletic program growing at Fort Madison.
“Our kids are just running their tails off. I just don’t know what to say,” Schneider said. “Qualify the 4×200, 4×400, open 400, and the jumps, and then we’re going to be on the bubble in the 100, 200 and the shuttle hurdle. I think we surprised some people tonight.
“We got other coaches pushing kids our way. The soccer team’s here tonight, (Head Coach Derek) Doherty is here tonight. That’s what it takes.”
Schneider said jump coach Justin Cain’s presence brought more out of McGowan and DiPrima.
“We have to give credit to Justin on that one. The kids just jump better when he’s here.” Schneider said.
Raquel Schneider, coming off a foot injury that has sidelined her for the past two weeks, ran a 1:09.62, a full 2.5 seconds a head of the field to qualify for state for the second time. She ran as part of the shuttle hurdle relay team as a freshman.
“I didn’t think about it much during the race, but it kinda hurts. I’m gonna go ice it,” she said. “I was just trying to push through. But this feels great. I’m really excited.”
Schneider may also have other aspirations at state and that would be to set a family record. Her mother Carrie, older sister Brett, and older brother Quentin all ran 400 hurdles at the state meet.
Coach Chad Hannum said he wasn’t surprised by the success of the team, but was surprised at how they each performed individually.
“The only thing that really surprised me tonight is how much they’re PR’in by,” he said.
“We’re ready. They’ve been running well all season, so I knew they would run well tonight, I just didn’t know they’d run this well.”
Hannum said Garrett Hannum pulled himself from the 400 hurdles where he thought he might have a chance to qualify, to make sure he was fresh for the 4×400 relay and help the team qualify.
Junior Tate Johnson will have to wait a few hours to see if he qualified in the 100- and/or 200-meter dashes. Johnson, who just got back on the track after sitting most of the season with hip flexor issues, placed 3rd in both events. Johnson finished the 100 at 11.39 and the 200 at 23.02.
The top two finishers at each district qualify for state and then the next best eight times in the state qualify.
The shuttle hurdle team of Macaden Rhoer, Davis, Kane Williams and Hayden Segoviano also finished 3rd with a time of 1:05.06 and will have to wait to see if their time will qualify.
Those results are expected no later than noon on Saturday from IHSAA officials.
Fort Madison finished with 105 points good enough for 3rd place in the district. The Lady Hounds finished eighth with 40.