Blazing Times in the Sprints Highlight State Track Day Three

by Tyler Lance
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The 2023 Iowa high school track and field season is in the books after day three of competition Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, as the sprinters took center stage.

The boys class 1A 100 meters was one of the deepest in state history, lighting the track on fire with all eight finalists completing the race in under 11 seconds, while the top four each broke the class 1A state meet record. North Union senior Bryer Prochniak landed on the state podium with a personal best of 10.74 seconds, lowering his school record. Prochniak’s time would have been good enough to win the class 2A race, and would have come in second in both the 3A and 4A fields.

In the girls class 1A 100 meters, Shelby Fraker continued to have a big meet for North Union, breaking 13 seconds for the first time in her career with a clocking of 12.92. The senior earned her first individual state medal with a sixth place finish.

Day three of the meet kicked off with the 800 meter medley timed finals. North Union and West Bend-Mallard’s girls teams raced in heat one of three, as the Warriors would finish in 21st overall in 1:57.30 while the Wolverines placed 23rd in 1:58.52, as both teams lost a bit of time with some handoff issues. North Union’s relay team featured a familiar quartet of Ella Ulrich, Libby Stevens, Shelby Fraker, and Naomi Jones, with Ulrich and Stevens on the 100 meter legs, Fraker on the 200, and Jones anchoring. The same four Warriors also competed in both the 4×100 and 4×200 at this year’s state meet, making for a busy weekend. The Wolverines featured an all-underclassman relay that included two freshmen and two sophomores, with Shaylee Wise, Hannah Stalzer, Hannah Fehr, and Maddie Fehr.

In the boys 800 meter medley, Bishop Garrigan competed in heat two of the class 1A timed finals, with Caden Roethler and Owen Murphy on the 100 meter legs, Cal Birkey running in the 200 spot, and Justin Bauer carrying the baton in the 400. The Golden Bears took third in their heat and 13th overall in 1:37.38. Birkey and Bauer capped off a big weekend that saw them compete on the track Friday, return to Algona to help Bishop Garrigan defeat Algona 9-3 on the baseball diamond on Friday night, and then come back to Drake Stadium to wrap up their track season on Saturday.

In class 3A, Algona took 15th place in the boys 800 meter medley in 1:36.17. The team featured Porter Reffer and Lamorn Ulfers on the 100s, Alex Manske on the 200, and Evan Allie on the 400 meter leg. All of those athletes competed at least two running events on Friday before wrapping up their trip to state on Saturday morning.

The first state medal of the day was taken home by Bishop Garrigan’s girls shuttle hurdle relay, as Emmi Bartolo, Zoe Montag, Reagan Murphy, and Molly Joyce took fourth place in a season best time of 1:07.96 in one of the day’s early events. The Golden Bears competed in heat one, the slower of the two timed final heats after running 1:10.00 in the preliminaries on Thursday, making for a tense few moments as the Golden Bears awaited the results of the second heat to see where they would place. The fourth place finish marked the third straight year earning a class 1A state medal in the event for Bishop Garrigan after placing second in 2021 and fourth in 2022. The senior Joyce is the lone member of all three of those relays.

Joyce was not done after the shuttle hurdles, placing seventh in the class 1A 100 meter hurdle finals in 16.02 seconds.

Over in the girls class 1A 200 meters, West Bend-Mallard freshman Maddie Fehr took home the first state medal of her career, crossing the line in 26.74 seconds for eighth place. Fehr was the only freshman to qualify for the finals of the girls 1A 200 meters, as the seven other competitors were all juniors and seniors.

Bryer Prochniak added to his state hardware in the boys class 1A 200 meters, coming in 4th in 22.19 for a medalist finish in his final race in a Warrior uniform.

In Algona’s final event of the meet, freshman Gavin Weber placed 19th in the boys class 3A 1600 meters, setting a one second personal best in 4:33.90. Weber navigated through traffic early, coming through the halfway point in 2:14. Weber lost a bit of ground on the third lap with a 72 second split, but changed gears nicely in the last lap, closing in 67 seconds to move up a couple of positions and earn a new personal best. Weber was one of just two freshmen to qualify for the 24 runner event in class 3A.

Algona’s Moriah Knapp qualified for the class 3A girls 1500 meters, but had to scratch from the event due to injury.

Two area teams were finalists in the class 1A girls 4×100 meters, with North Union and Bishop Garrigan grabbing the final two spots from the preliminary round. The Warrior team of Ulrich, Stevens, Fraker, and Jones established a new school record of 51.00, medaling with a 6th place finish. Bartolo, Murphy, Montag, and Capesius ran nearly an identical time as the preliminaries for Bishop Garrigan, medaling with an eighth place finish of 51.43.

The day’s final event featured Bishop Garrigan making another class 1A girls 4×400 meter finals appearance, with the relay team of Montag, Capesius, Murphy, and Joyce. In the final athletic competition of Joyce’s stellar high school career, she anchored the relay to a seventh place finish in a season best of 4:08.39, placing seventh and earning a state medal.

Plenty of fans took in the fast performances from the weekend, as the meet set a three day record with a total attendance of 40,567.

Athlete Interviews

Algona – Boys 800 meter medley (Porter Reffer, Lamorn Ulfers, Alex Manske, Evan Allie)

Bishop Garrigan – Boys 800 meter medley (Caden Roethler, Owen Murphy, Cal Birkey, Justin Bauer)

Bishop Garrigan – Girls 4×100 meter relay (Emmi Bartolo, Reagan Murphy, Zoe Montag, Abbie Capesius)

Bishop Garrigan – girls 4×400 meter relay (Zoe Montag, Abbie Capesius, Reagan Murphy, Molly Joyce)

Bishop Garrigan – Girls shuttle hurdles (Emmi Bartolo, Zoe Montag, Reagan Murphy, Molly Joyce)

Bryer Prochniak – North Union – 100 meter dash

Bryer Prochniak – North Union – 200 meter dash

Maddie Fehr – West Bend-Mallard – 200 meter dash

Shelby Fraker – North Union – 100 meter dash

Gavin Weber – Algona – 1600 meter run

Molly Joyce – Bishop Garrigan – 100 meter hurdles

North Union – Girls 4×100 meter relay (Ella Ulrich, Libby Stevens, Naomi Jones, Shelby Fraker)

North Union – Girls 800 meter medley (Ella Ulrich, Libby Stevens, Shelby Fraker, Naomi Jones)

West Bend-Mallard – Girls 800 meter medley (Shaylee Wise, Hailey Stalzer, Hannah Fehr, Maddie Fehr)

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