Crooks and Joyce Win Titles, Knapp Medals at State Day One

by Tyler Lance
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After just one day of the Iowa High School State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium’s blue oval, the meet is already off to a historic start, as Bishop Garrigan shot putter Audi Crooks rewrote the class 1A record books, while teammate Molly Joyce defended her title in the long jump, and Algona’s Moriah Knapp added to the local accolades with a state medal.

Crooks came into the competition as the favorite with the top seed from districts, looking to defend her 2021 state title when she recorded a mark of 41-09.75. The Bishop Garrigan junior not only defended her title, but set a new state record on her very first throw of the meet, setting a new standard of 43-04, shattering the previous Class 1A girls record set by NiCole Dobernecker in 2011 of 42-01.25. Crooks’ new record wouldn’t last long however, as on her second throw, she recorded an even more impressive 43-05.25. Not to be outdone, on Crooks’s third throw she broke the record again, with a distance of 44-06. After her fourth attempt came in at 42-11, Crooks would set a new standard once more on her fifth throw, with a mark of 45-01, which ultimately proved to be the winning distance. A toss of 44-04.75 on the junior’s sixth attempt wrapped up a historic performance that saw Crooks beat the old 1A state record on all six of her attempts.

Another Golden Bear who set out to defend their 2021 title did just that, as junior Molly Joyce improved on a 2021 performance that saw her leap 17-05, jumping to a mark of 17-11.75 to once again claim the 1A girls long jump. Unlike 2021, when Joyce fouled on her first two attempts before recovering to make finals and win the title, Joyce settled in early, hitting her first leap in 16-11.25 and second in 17:02.75 to comfortable punch her ticket to the finals. After entering her last three jumps in second place, Joyce moved into first place with her fourth attempt, setting a bar that would not be passed for the rest of the competition.

Joyce and Crooks weren’t the only two area athletes to earn state medals on day one, as Algona junior Moriah Knapp placed sixth in the class 3A girls 3000 meter run in 11:21. After overcoming several weeks of missed training due to a stress fracture earlier in the season, as well as battling through temperatures that had reached the mid-80s by the time the afternoon and the 3000 had rolled around, Knapp found a spot in striking range of the top eight early and refused to give it up. After sitting in a pack of four runners battling for spots six through nine, Knapp surged at the 1600 meter mark of the race, moving into sixth place and creating separation from the group. Headed into the bell lap, Knapp still held onto sixth place. The group of three chasing down Knapp closed the gap, and even began to overtake the Algona junior heading down the finishing straightaway, but Knapp mustered one final push in the final 20 meters to move back into sixth and earn a state medal.

In addition to Thursday’s state medalists, several local athletes put themselves into the finals, where they will battle for a state title in the ensuing days of the meet. Bishop Garrigan’s girls shuttle hurdle relay team of Reagan Murphy, Zoe Montag, Emma Grandgenett, and Molly Joyce continued a consistent second half of the season, clocking a 1:08.06 to breeze into Saturday’s finals with their second best mark of the season. Bishop Garrigan enters Saturday’s final with the top seed time after fellow 1A shuttle hurdle title contender Nodaway Valley was disqualified from the preliminary round after a member of their relay left the starting blocks too early on the second exchange. The Golden Bears were the state runner up in this event last season.

Also punching a ticket to Saturday’s finals was North Union’s Bryer Prochniak in both the boys class 1A 100 and 200 meter dashes. Prochniak took the eighth and final qualifying spot in the 200 prelims in a time of 23.28 seconds, surviving by .09, while placing 6th in the 100 meter preliminary round in 11.47, recording those times in spite of a headwind that was present throughout the day. Prochniak’s 11.47 in the 100 placed him fourth in heat two, as five of Saturday’s eight finalists are from that second heat.

On the girls side of the sprint preliminaries, Bishop Garrigan sophomore Abbie Capesius began what will be a busy meet by finishing 11th in the girls class 1A 200 meters in 27.44 seconds. Capesius narrowly missed her season best time of 27.43. Still to come in the next couple days for Capesius will be spots in the 4×100, sprint medley, and 4×400 meter relays for the Golden Bears.

Two area teams competed in the timed finals of the girls class 1A 4×800 meter relay, as West Bend-Mallard’s team of Abi Schmidt, Ashley Fehr, Tiffany Fehr, and Kierstin Montag placed 13th in 10:36. The Wolverines return all four members of the relay next season, as Tiffany Fehr wraps up her freshman season, while the other three members just completed their sophomore campaigns. North Union’s relay of Hanna Sandvig, Cassie Beadle, Jacey Welbig, and Lily Henderson came in 22nd in the event in 10:52.

West Bend-Mallard also had their boys 4×800 meter relay competing in the timed finals today, as Joe Mader, Lucas Fehr, Max Fehr, and Collin Montag posted a time of 8:45, good for 16th place in class 1A.

In the girls class 3A 4×800 meter relay, Algona’s team of Andi Jensen, Kaitlyn Burns, Malyn Davis, and Lauren McGlaughlin had the unique distinction of being the only 4×800 team in class 3A to consist of four freshmen. The Bulldog relay team made their state debut with a time of 10:34, placing 23rd.

Back over in the field events, it was a tough day for Algona’s A’Lailah Perry in the discus, as she did not advance to finals after fouling on her first three attempts. Perry will be back in action in the shot put on Friday afternoon, as she continues her first appearance at the state track and field meet.

North Union’s Olivia Merrill made her state debut, placing 15th in the girls class 1A shot put with a throw of 33-10.50.

Day two of state track and field starts on Friday at 9 A.M. from Drake Stadium in Des Moines.

Interviews from day one of the competition can be heard below:

Audi Crooks – Bishop Garrigan – Shot put

Molly Joyce – Bishop Garrigan – Long Jump

Bishop Garrigan Girls Shuttle Hurdles (Reagan Murphy, Zoe Montag, Emma Grandgenett, Molly Joyce)

Abbie Capesius – Bishop Garrigan – 200 meter dash

West Bend-Mallard Girls 4×800 (Abi Schmidt, Ashley Fehr, Tiffany Fehr, Kierstin Montag)

West Bend-Mallard Boys 4×800 (Joe Mader, Lucas Fehr, Max Fehr, Collin Montag)

Olivia Merrill – North Union – Shot put

Moriah Knapp – Algona – 3000 meter run

A’Lailah Perry – Algona – Discus

Algona Girls 4×800 (Andi Jensen, Kaitlyn Burns, Malyn Davis, Lauren McGlaughlin)

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