BATH TIME: Hawks, Trojans endure a soggy Bengal Relays

GILBERT – To be the best, Devin Howard knows he has to beat the best.

That didn’t actually happen on a soggy evening at Gilbert High School yesterday, but it didn’t stop the South Hamilton junior from reeling in plenty of gold.

Howard won the Class B 100- and 200-meter dashes, and led off two more medal-winning relays to help the Hawks finish second in the field with 114 points. Madrid nudged ahead to take the trophy with 118. Van Meter was third with 111.

Northeast Hamilton was sixth in the smaller class with 31 points.

The two classes – A and B – competed together in every event, which meant Howard got the chance to run right beside Iowa Falls-Alden speedster Brandon Norman in both sprints. The 2012 state runners-up – Howard was second in the 2A 100, while Norman snagged silver in the 3A 100 and 200 – went 1-2 in their 100 heat, with Norman taking the Class A title in 11.37 seconds, while Howard was the Class B champ in 11.47.

Howard streaked past the finish line in the 200 in 23.25.

“I love the competition,” Howard said following the 100. “Brandon did great at state last year and he’s a good kid, and it’s just great to have that competition to run against.”

Howard says he used his Drake Relays snub – he missed qualifying in the 100 by .01 while Norman grabbed the 32nd and final spot – as motivation yesterday, and it will continue to fuel him in the weeks leading up to the state meet.

“That’s always going to be in the back of my mind, and when state comes around and everybody is being announced as a Drake qualifier, that’s just going to motivate me even more,” he said.

Athletes were doused with rain throughout the meet. The 4×800 runners were hit the hardest early in the evening when torrential downpours left puddles on the track.

“Hey, it was just good to be out there,” South Hamilton head coach Darrell Paulson said after his squad picked up 11 top-three finishes, including six first-place results. “We experimented with some things and I thought we did pretty well.”

Triston Twedt, Caleb Olson and Jacob Heeren all won individual events as well for the Hawks. Twedt had no trouble cruising to the front of the 400 hurdles field and he finished in 57.73. Olson claimed the 800 in 2:15.57 and Heeren was the 1,600 winner in 5:07.05.

South Hamilton could have won the meet had Twedt competed in the 400 – an event he would’ve been favored to win – but Paulson opted to place him alongside Howard, Justin Shepherd and Zach Zoske in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays. The Hawks were second in the 4×200 (1:36.32) and third in the 4×100 (47.75).

Josh Doering was the 110 high hurdles silver medalist in 16.97, as was the 4×800 (9:09.19) group of Jacob Ratzke, Alex Bristow, Zach Coster and Olson.

Northeast Hamilton scored where it could with its small team – the Trojans had only 13 athletes in uniform – and secured four medals.

Nick Jeffers won his heat of the 400 and took second overall in 54.93. He was also part of the Trojans’ 1,600 medley relay (4:08.97) that finished second. Gabe Rapp, Tyler Smith and Kyle Pruismann also took part.

Steven Smith navigated the eight-lap 3,200 to a third-place finish in a personal-best time (11:00.90), and Jeffers, Tyler Smith, Andy Pate and Rapp closed out the meet by taking third in the 4×400 (3:54.11).

“I was happy considering we were by far the smallest school there,” NEH head coach Shannon Muhlenbruch said. “I wanted to get some times for the kids in some things so we can play around a little bit for the (Iowa Star) conference meet, so we weren’t really worried about times.”

South Hamilton will be in Story City on Thursday for the Norseman Invitational, while Northeast Hamilton will wait until Friday for the South Hardin Invite in Eldora.