DES MOINES – The hardware was hard to come by this year at the IHSAA/IGHSAU State Track and Field meet in Des Moines, but not impossible.
Central Lee’s Tommy Eschman leaped 21-10” to capture sixth-place in the boys' 2A long-jump competition. Eschman was the only local runner to bring home a medal or qualify for Saturday’s finals.
The leap wasn’t Eschman’s best of his career, but he said he wasn’t going to hang his head for being the sixth best leaper in 2A in the state.
“This whole season has been about getting hardware at state,” Eschman said.
“I wish I could’ve done a little better. But I came in ranked 7th and I moved up a spot to 6th, so I can’t complain.”
Eschman made it to state all three years he participated in the event. His freshman year was the year the state washed the season due to Covid. Losing that year isn’t lost on the senior.
“I wouldn’t say I regret it, but it would’ve been interesting to see what I could’ve done with another year,” he said.
Eschman has only been long jumping since track opened back up after Covid in 2021.
“I wasn’t even going to try it. I was high jumping but, unfortunately, I stopped growing up my freshman year and coaches and parents said I should try long jumping, so I did. I ended up sticking with it and worked at it and that’s what’s got me here.”
Eschman also competed in the 100-meter dash coming into the meet seeded 18th. He finished 19th with a time of 11.52.
Central Lee Head Coach Tyler Bryant said Eschman is one of the best Central Lee will see.
“You’re always excited when you get to leave with hardware at the state track meet. I’m super proud of him,” Bryant said.
“He’s a little upset he didn’t post a PR (Personal Record). But the way I see it, every single meet he gives his all and that’s all you can ask for from a kid. He’s truly left a legacy.
“Tom Eschman is a young man that will be remembered as one of the best to wear a Central Lee uniform.”
Fort Madison freshman Avery Rump finished 11th in the 3000-meter run, but she ran the event a bit encumbered. Her time of 11.03.29 was accomplished with just one shoe on. Rump lost her right shoe in the first 100 yards when things got a little tight in the first corner. She also bumped into the rail on the inside of the track early on.
Running with one shoe and just a sock on the other foot helped her mentally getting around the 7.5 laps on the blue oval.
“It was actually good to take away from the pain I was feeling. I was thinking, 'Hey, I’m doing this with just one shoe!'."
The 3000-meters was the first time Rump has run on the blue surface of the Drake Stadium, but she said the atmosphere was very exciting and she enjoyed the run.
“It’s weird to be around this many people. There are people all around you and I’m not used to that,” she said. “But it’s also exciting because you hear people yelling everywhere and it’s kind of motivating.
“I put in as much effort as I could. I don’t know if my time reflects that because I was doing it with one shoe.”
Rump is one of the only girls to run with her hair down and regular glasses on. She said she’s had thoughts of running without the glasses.
“But the hair stays,” she said.
Hound senior Nik Fullenkamp raced to a time of 23.92 in the 200-meter dash in his first time ever running at the state meet. He made the trip in 2022 but as an alternate and didn’t get on the track.
It was the second time he’s broken 24 seconds in the event this year. He said he was just out there to run as fast as he could on the unfamiliar surface.
“It’s nothing like I’ve ever run on before. There’s a lot of people, which is just awesome. Being an alternate last year drove me to want to be here this year,” Fullenkamp said.
“There’s not a lot of people that can say they were able to run on the blue oval, so this is awesome. You just run your race and go as fast as you can, and I did that.”
His time placed him 24th in the event.
“The competition is obviously harder, but I ran my race and I got under 24 for the second time. So, it’s not like it was a bad day. It wasn’t a bad day, I can finish dead last and it’s not a bad day.”
Cade Packard set a personal record with a 52.19 in the 400-meter dash. Packard was in the pack at the 200 meter mark but fell behind in the final 150 meters.
“You get in a zone and it hurts. You’re not worried about the audience - at least for me. I just try to focus on the pain and work through it,” Packard said.
“But the atmosphere up here is amazing. Even the track is blue, you know. I’ve never seen this before. It’s a blessing. This is awesome.”
The Bloodhounds' 110-meter shuttle hurdle relay team was seeded 8th going into the meet with the top eight qualifying out of Thursday's preliminaries. However the team of Adam Sobczak, Gavin Callahan, Kiawante Smith, and Henry Wiseman hit a buzz saw and finished with a time of 1:02.37 after qualifying with a 1:01.57, to give them 15th place overall in the preliminary runs.
Avery Rump will run in the 1500 Friday afternoon and Hailey Kemper will run in the 400 hurdles. The boys' 4x100 relay will also run Friday.
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