BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Three vans full of Hounds and coaches left Wednesday afternoon for the Iowa High School State Co-Ed Track meet.
Fort Madison is sending four girls for two events and seven boys, along with several alternates, to the meet which kicks off Thursday morning at 9 a.m. at Drake Stadium. Central Lee will be sending two runners and a long-jump specialist for the Hawks.
Aija Jenkins is making the trip as a freshman for Fort Madison after finding out her 5-0″ leap at districts was good enough to secure a spot in the high jump. Jenkins will jump at 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning. Keokuk’s Miracle Ailes should be one of the favorites with a 5-4″ leap at districts.
Jenkins said she’s not anticipating placing in the top eight so her goal is to set a personal best of 5-2″.
“I know I’m not going to win or anything. That’s not my expectation – it’s just to PR because I know I can clear 5-2″. I’ve gotten my body over it before and it just seems like I catch it with my ankle or foot,” she said.
She was surprised when her name appeared on the list Friday after placing 4th at districts in Mt. Pleasant Thursday night.
“I was up all night to see if I made it and the next morning it still wasn’t put up. But I wasn’t disappointed because there’s next year, but I was really surprised when I saw I made it.”
Jenkins will also join Taylor Barnes, Raquel Schneider and Reyna Lampe on the shuttle hurdle team that also won on time after failing to get the automatic bid out of districts. That event starts the meet on Thursday at 9 a.m.
Schneider who’s been nursing a foot injury for the past few weeks still captured first place in the 400-hurdles Thursday and will be running in that event at around noon on Friday.
Schneider’s 1:09 at districts puts her just out of the final heat in lane 7 of the 2nd heat.
Schneider said she iced her foot all weekend and then worked out Saturday and Monday.
“It’s going to hurt during the race, but I just need to push through it. Her personal best is a 1:08.
Her sister Brett and her mother Carrie both ran the 400 hurdles at state. Brett has the family girls’ record with 1:06.22 good enough for 6th place at the 2018 state meet. Her brother Quentin placed 7th at state in the same event with a 55.62 in 2019.
Schneider, a junior, said her goal is to get the family record and place as high as she can..
“I’m thinking I’ll just try to get it this year,” she laughed.
Another late add to the Hound contingent is junior Tate Johnson. Johnson qualified on time in the 100- and 200- meter dashes. Johnson will run in the first heat of the 100 prelims at about 1:15 p.m. on Thursday and is seeded 12th. His 23.02 time in the 200 at districts has him seeded 17th. He will run in the 2nd heat Thursday at about 11:10 a.m.
Johnson was dejected following not qualifying with the automatic spots Thursday in Mt. Pleasant.
“I thought my season was done and with all the hard work I’d put in it was a let down. But then seeing I made it was kind of exciting,” Johnson said.
After battling injuries throughout the season, districts was the first competition Johnson saw in close to a month. A third-place finish in the 100 didn’t sit well with the junior.
“I was pretty angry after the 100 and then wasn’t in the mood to run the 200, but I just manned up and ran it and I’m glad I did now.”
Johnson said he doesn’t think his 200 effort at district’s was all there. Without a seeding time, Johnson got put in the first heat and didn’t have anyone to compete with toward the finish.
‘I think if I have some people with me it will push me a little harder.”
He said in the 100 he’ll have to do better than 11.3 to make it to the finals Saturday. He said a sub 23 time in the 200 will be needed to get to finals. He ran a 23.02 at districts.
Mikey DiPrima and Jakob McGowan are both making the trip for the Bloodhounds in the long jump. DiPrima leaped 20-9″ on Thursday, and McGowan went 20-6.75″ to take the two qualifying spots. They will compete starting at 9 a.m. Friday morning. DiPrima is seeded 8th and McGowan is at 14. But McGowan’s PR for the season is 20-11″. DiPrima set his season best at districts.
The Hounds will also run Dayton Davis in the 400 open. Davis will be seeded 10th with a 51.71 and will run at 10:45 Thursday morning in lane 5 of the second heat.
Davis will also run as part of the Hounds 4×400 team anchoring with Brock Califf, Garrett Hannum and Andrew Schaefer. That will be the final event of Friday morning’s session. The Hounds are seeded 8th with a time of 3:29.80.
Fort Madison has the 11th best time in the 4×200 at 1:31.97. Less than one second separates the 3rd and 11th seed in that event. The Hounds will send Califf, McGowan, Schaefer and Hannum and will run in lane 3 of the 2nd heat at about 10:25 a.m. Friday.
CENTRAL LEE SENDS THREE
The Hawks will send Tommy Eschman to the sandpit for the 2A long jump. Eschman’s jump of 20-5.75 just qualified as the 24th seed in a loaded 2A field. Cooper Dejean of OABCIG flew 24-2″ at his district meet for the top mark. 24-3″ is the state record.
Senior Chance Hocker also squeezed in in the 200-meter dash. Hocker is also seeded 24th with 23.61 and will run in lane 8 of the first heat at 11 a.m. Thursday.
The feel good story of the year maybe Abby Wellman’s qualifying in the 400-meter hurdles. Wellman will run in the 7th lane in the first heat on Friday at 11:40 a.m. Wellman is seeded 22nd, but caught the last hurdle in her district meet falling to the ground. She rolled up quickly and sprinted to the end catching a qualifying time at 1:10.58.