State literally brought out the best -Beside the Point


There's something about being back at home after a weekend away.

I don't know if it's just age (yep!) or expanding the work week for a full weekend at Drake, but there's something about coming back home.

The wife met me at the Burlington airport to drop off the rental and then we went for a salmon. My mom joined us and it was nice.

It's not like I was gone to San Diego or something for a couple weeks, but as we get older we begin to appreciate our own bed and a cup of coffee in the morning.

There's always something a little exciting about following our local high school kids around as they hang out with the best of the best.

The great part about the IHSAA/IGHSAU State Track meet at Drake is the unknown. You just don't know what's going to happen. And I love shooting our kids with big crowds behind them.

This year didn't disappoint. Fort Madison senior Tate Johnson finished as the fifth fastest kid in Class 3A in the state of Iowa. This kid wasn't disappointed in his finish. Some of these kids dream of being champions. Some are happy with just competing against the best prep athletes in the state. Tate smiled all the way to the pit where his gear was.

"10.89 and I get 5th?" he said as I approached. "Those guys are fast. That's a personal record for me so I'm happy. You can't be disappointed coming to state and setting a personal record."

About three minutes after Johnson set his own personal record on his last race as a senior, Mikey McClain of Dowling Catholic set a new state record as the fastest kid ever in the open 100 at 10.33, a full .17 seconds better than anyone in state history.

Johnson's time was just .13 seconds off a state record and he was just .03 from a top-three finish. A photo in Monday's edition shows just how close he was to Marion's Alex Mota, who set a 3A record with a 10.71, just .18 seconds in front of your Bloodhound.

But they'll tell you .18 is an hour in a race that in most cases takes less than 12 seconds and is determined by where your torso, and not any other part of the body, crosses the digital finish line.

One would think that would make losses tough to take, but Tate just put his sweatshirt back on, smiled and posed for a couple pictures. He picked up a medal, posed for a couple more shots, and then went to find his parents.

He also anchored a 4x200 and 4x100 team that, by standards, under-performed at state. But here's the thing with that. This foursome of Julian Dear, Tate Settles, Hayden Segoviano, and Johnson celebrated heavily after winning districts with their best times of the year.

Punching that ticket and coming into state with top-10 times is no small feat. At state, just like at Drake, it's one race... one day. It has to be almost perfect to roll with these upper tier schools.

No one is perfect, well maybe Mikey McClain.

Fort Madison coaches Mike Schneider and Justin Cain said the great thing about this year's state is that no one from Fort Madison "laid an egg". The times the kids posted, the lengths they jumped, and the distance they threw were numbers that, for almost each one, was one of their best performances of the year.

Raquel Schneider had her second best time of the year in the 400 hurdles with a 1.09.92, 14th best of 24 runners and about four seconds off the the pace of her sister and mom. Mikey DiPrima high jumped 6-0 which is only the second time this year he hit that mark and finished 9th best in Class 3A, and Aija Jenkins had her second best leap of the year at 5 even.

Lexi Whaley has been around 33-5 all year in the shotput, but found about 3.5 extra inches on Friday afternoon to move up a spot from her state seeding.

And Central Lee's Tom Eschman earned a top 10 long-jump finish with 20-10.25 inches - his best jump of the year. Eschman said he was happy with his finish because you can't complain about being one of the top jumpers in 2A and setting a personal record at state. He added, however, his high school career won't be fulfilled until he medals. He has one more year to get it done after qualifying the past two.

The point is these kids go through ups and downs all year in a sport in which they are mostly on their own when competing. And it can't be said enough that once again they represented themselves, and their respective schools, with class.

It's not uncommon from our area. It's really not.

With the adrenaline back down, and the summer now within reach, these kids are probably happy to be back home as well - but that's Beside the Point.

beside the point, bloodhounds, Chuck Vandenberg, Column, Drake, editorial, fort madison, IGHSAU, IHSAA, lee county, opinion, Pen City Current, sports, state track meet, Tate Johnson, varsity


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