The need for speed: Area squads well represented in sprints at state meet

WEBSTER CITY – Speed is not subjective; you’ve either got it or you don’t.

Hamilton County track programs have been blessed with plenty of speed in recent years, and that hasn’t changed this spring as they get ready to tackle the Iowa Coed State Track and Field Championships that begin today and run through Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.

Four area athletes – South Hamilton’s Devin Howard, and Webster City’s Allie Flaws, Kisston Thomas and Cooper Jaycox – will compete in the 100-meter dash in their respective 2A and 3A classes. Howard and Flaws are also in the 200.

The Webster City boys’ team qualified in two sprint relays – the 4×100 and 4×200, run by Jaycox, Nathan Nuehring, Tanner Hoveland and Cal Zahn. Nuehring and Zahn are returning members off last year’s 4×100 state champion, and they’ll run with Eric Coleman and Nick Thilges on the distance medley relay as well.

And don’t forget about the hurdles, which can also come down to speed as well as technique. Webster City’s Kaylee Schnathorst is in the girls’ 3A 100 hurdles, teammate Lucas Poland will take part in the boys’ 3A 110 highs, and South Hamilton’s Triston Twedt will take another crack at medaling in the boys’ 2A 400 lows.

“We’ve been blessed to have some pretty talented kids in the speed events and it’s a credit to the speed training and the weight program that’s been brought into the school,” WCHS boys’ coach Tony Bussan said. “I’m just thrilled for Cooper. He’s a junior that’s new to the program this year and he just has a wonderful attitude.”

Flaws and Thomas are two of the rare freshmen in the girls’ 3A 100 field. Flaws has yet to be beat in either of the individual sprints this spring, and she’ll hit the blue oval seeded fifth in both the 100 and 200.

“The girls are excited and nervous, and for a lot of them this is their first experience at state,” WCHS girls’ co-head coach Kristy Manson said. “I think it’s going to be a unique opportunity for Allie and Kisston because they’re freshmen. We’ve just told them to go out and compete and see what you can do.”

Howard and Twedt are both returning state medal winners. Howard was the 2A 100 runner-up and 200 fourth-place finisher a season ago, and he enters today’s preliminary heats seeded second and third in the two events. Twedt took sixth in the 400 hurdles last spring; he will run in the fastest of the three final’s heats on Friday.

“We’ve had a good week of practice and now the ball is in their court,” South Hamilton boys’ coach Darrell Paulsen said. “Devin has a good chance in the 100 and 200; he’s put in a lot of work this year and this is what he’s been dreaming for and I know he’s ready to go. With Triston, all year we’ve talked about wanting Lane 3 and now he’s got it, so he can see the other competitors.”

Bussan is hopeful his large group of qualifiers can make a splash in several other events as well. Senior Ethan Glenn will run the open 800 and on the anchor of the 4×800, and classmate Boone Myers has the ability to place in the discus despite a rough season brought on by a lengthy illness that left him sapped of strength and energy.

“Boone is a wild card and he’s definitely on the upward swing,” Bussan said. “When his technique is on he throws very well and he could certainly move up the ladder.”

Thilges, Coleman and Jacob Clabaugh will join Glenn in the 4×800. The Lynx ran one of the fastest 3A times during the regular season, but an off night at the state qualifier left the group in the slower of two heats at state.

“We’re strong in (the 4×800) because we’ve got four seniors there,” Bussan said. “Nothing we’re taking down there is in the fastest heat. You can either say we’re not supposed to place, or you can say we can go down there and do our best and see what that gets us.”

Schnathorst, Jaycox and Zahn will compete in three events over the three-day meet. In addition to the 100 hurdles where Schnathorst is seeded 10th, she’ll also go in search of a medal in the lead-off spot of the Lynx shuttle hurdle relay and in the shot put competition.

Jennifer Jeffers is Northeast Hamilton’s only state-meet representative. She’ll circle the track twice in the 1A 800 Saturday morning.