BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – About 1/3 of the way through the first heat of the 100-meter dash, Fort Madison’s Tate Johnson got close to the left lane line, but after that, the senior showed he’s one of the fastest kids in the state.
Johnson’s 11.22 was just .11 off the pace in Class 3A, and .22 off Jack Latham’s (Spirit Lake) fastest time of the day at the IHSAA State track meet at Drake Stadium Thursday evening.
Johnson’s lane three time was .01 seconds away from winning the first heat behind Sam Wallace of Benton with an 11.21 in lane 1.
“I knew they would all be fast at state, but I wanted to stay in the pack early and then try to get out ahead if I could,” Johnson said. “I was just trying to get in the top eight.”
The senior said he thought he was getting close to the line, but it didn’t impact him.
“I don’t really see much when I’m running, I just look at the end.”
Johnson’s time will qualify him as the 4th seed in the open 100 finals, which takes place at 12:55 on what is expected to be a cool Saturday, starting with Class 1A.
Johnson said Friday is about resting, hydration, and stretching.
Head Coach Mike Schneider said Johnson got off to a great start.
“When he has a good start like he did today, he’s as fast as anyone out there,” Schneider said. “But we’re not done yet.”
Johnson won’t get rest all day Friday, however, as he anchors the 4×200 and 4×100 teams with Julian Dear, Tate Settles, and Hayden Segoviano.
The Hounds will run in Lane 2 of Heat 2 of the 4×200 starting at 4:15 Friday afternoon. Fort Madison will then run in Lane 3 of Heat 2 of the 4×100 which begins at 6:50 p.m.
Fort Madison’s Mikey DiPrima tied for ninth in state in the high jump, clearing the starting bar of 5-10 and then getting over the 6-foot bar. He missed his next three at 6-2 to tie him with four others. The top eight started at 6-2 with Charles City’s Ian Collins clearing 6-9.
Central Lee’s Tommy Eschman finished 10th overall in the Class 2A long jump. Eschman was standing in fourth in the first grouping with a personal best leap of 20-10.25 on his second jump. He repeated that exact leap again on his third jump.
However, the second grouping brought some of the state’s best jumpers, and Eschman was moved to 10th overall. Eschman qualified in the long jump last year as a sophomore.
“I had high hopes for this year because of last year and how the year was progressing,” he said. “I was pretty happy overall. To hit a PR at districts and then again at state, that’s a pretty good night.
“But at the same time – don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with 10th place in 2A – but I won’t be completely satisfied until I get a medal.”
Fort Madison’s Aija Jenkins rounded out the local athletes competing on Thursday. Jenkins cleared 4-10 on her second jump of the day and then cleared the 5-foot bar to move into the “Five Alive” however, three attempts weren’t enough for her to get over the 5-2 bar that she cleared at districts, and the sophomore ended up in 13th overall in Class 3A.
On tap for Friday, in addition to the Hounds’ 4×100 and 4×200 action, Lexi Whaley will throw in the Class 3A discuss beginning at 3 p.m. and Raquel Schneider will carry on the family tradition of Schneiders running the 400 hurdles. Schneider’s mom Carrie and older sister Brett all ran on the blue oval at state.
Schneider’s 1:08.79 at districts was her best time of the year, but is about 2.5 seconds off sister Brett’s time at state in 2018, and about 2 seconds behind her mother’s time in the event at state.
The 400 hurdles kicks off with Class 2A girls at 5:20 p.m. Schneider will have lane 5 in the second heat.