Six Area Athletes Medal, More Qualify For Finals on Day One of State Track and Field

by Tyler Lance
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Day one of the Iowa High School State Track and Field Championships from Drake Stadium in Des Moines is in the books, with several area athletes having earned state medals and berths in Saturday’s finals.

In her first career state appearance, Algona freshman Reagan Haynes started off the day by making a big splash in the girls class 3A discus, throwing a sizable personal best of 121-06, beating her previous best by 7 feet, 8 inches, and earning a state medal with a 5th place finish. Haynes nearly didn’t get a chance to compete for a state medal, as she barely made it to finals, ranking 9th after her initial three throws with a mark of 111-10 on her first throw, as only the top 9 athletes make it to finals. Haynes began moving up the leaderboard with her fourth throw of the day, with a mark of 114-05. The Algona freshman would then blow away all of her previous attempts, with a state medal-earning toss of 121-06 on her fifth of six throws.

Haynes would not be the only member of the Algona girls track team to be awarded a state medal on day one of the meet, as senior Madison Ehrig placed in the class 3A high jump for the second straight season, placing 6th with a leap of 5-02. Ehrig opened at 4-10, clearing the bar on her second attempt, before making cleanly over 5-00 and 5-02 on her first try at each height. Ehrig was eventually stopped by the 5-04 bar, missing on all three attempts. 11 class 3A athletes cleared 5-02, but only 4 of those 11 successfully cleared 5-04.

On the track, a breakthrough performance was achieved by the Algona girls 4×800 meter relay, as this season marks the third straight year the Bulldogs have sent a girls 4×800 relay to Des Moines. The relay team of Andi Jensen, Mara Davis, Malyn Davis, and Macy Knapp won the slower of two sections in 9:54, crushing their previous season best of 10:06, and ultimately finished 9th place overall in class 3A, as 8 teams in section two finished with a faster time than the Bulldogs. Algona finished two seconds off of a state medal, but greatly improved on their finishes of the past two seasons, as the Bulldogs placed 23rd of 24 teams in the 4×800 in 2022 and 24th in 2023. Jensen put the Bulldog relay team in a competitive position with an opening 800 meter split of 2:29. Mara Davis covered the 2nd 800 meter leg in 2:30, making a big move heading into her second lap. Malyn Davis checked in with a split of 2:31 on the third leg, emerging from a pack of six runners by changing gears with 350 meters left in her leg, moving Algona up to second in their heat. On the anchor leg, Macy Knapp made up ground quickly, brought the Bulldogs into first place in their heat, and held on to the lead by splitting a 2:22, opening her first lap in 69 seconds and coming back with a 73 on her second lap. Algona is set to bring back all four members of the relay next season, with zero seniors on the 4×800.

Earlier in meet, Algona sophomore Evan Allie began what will be a busy weekend of four events by qualifying for Saturday’s finals of the class 3A 200 meter dash. Allie placed 7th in the preliminaries in 22.12 seconds to take one of the eight spots for Saturday’s final.

Algona had one athlete in both the boys and girls class 3A 100 meter dash preliminaries. Sophomore Will Weichert missed out on qualifying for finals, but did set a new career best time of 11.06, placing 12th in the process. Fellow sophomore Natalie Johnson placed 18th in the girls preliminary round in 12.82 seconds.

Another sophomore for Algona, Gavin Weber, competed in his first of four events of the weekend, finishing 20th in the class 3A 3200 meter run in 10:17. Weber came through the first 1600 meters at a quick pace, clocking a split of 4:55, then covered the second 1600 in 5:22. The state meet marks the 3rd week in a row of Weber attempting the distance triple, as Weber raced in, and won the 800, 1600, and 3200 meter runs at Algona’s conference and district meets, in addition to running in the 4×400 meter relay at conference, and the 1600 meter medley at district and state.

The final event of the session on the track for Algona took place with the boys class 3A 400 meter dash timed finals, as junior Ashton Moreno competed at state in that event for the second year in a row. Moreno finished 15th in 52.51.

Rounding out the field events in the morning session for Algona were senior Shriji Patel and sophomore Max Nevitt in the class 3A discus throw. Patel, making his second straight state appearance in the discus, finished his Algona career by placing 13th with a throw of 142-06, improving on his 21st place finish from 2023. Nevitt finished one spot behind Patel in 14th with a mark of 142-00, also improving from last year’s state finish that saw him finish 20th.

The afternoon session featuring classes 1A and 4A resulted in several state medals and school records for area competitors.

Bishop Garrigan senior Abbie Capesius saved her best for last, making school history in the girls class 1A 400 meter dash. After previously competing in the 100 and 200 meter preliminaries within a couple hours of the 400 meter dash, including the 100 a mere 30 minutes ahead of time, Capesius smashed the Bishop Garrigan school record, becoming the first Golden Bear girl ever to break 60 seconds by running 59.32, placing 7th and earning her first individual state medal, having previously been a medalist on relay teams for the Golden Bears. Capesius competed in the second of three heats, placing second in her heat, meaning she had to sweat out a third heat waiting to see if her time would hold up and earn a state medal. Capesius topped her previous best of 1:01.25 by nearly two seconds, and was also nearly a second ahead of the previous school record of 1:00.25.

Capesius would not be the only Bishop Garrigan athlete to break a school record. Senior Reagan Murphy, who previously set the Bishop Garrigan 100 meter dash record earlier this season, added the 200 meter dash record to her resume, clocking in at 26.41 in the class 1A preliminaries. Unfortunately for Murphy, her time narrowly missed out on qualifying for Saturday’s 200 meter final, as she finished 9th, a mere .02 of a second behind 8th.

Capesius finished 17th in the 200 meter preliminaries, breaking the 27 second barrier for the first time in her career in 26.73.

West Bend-Mallard Wolverine sophomore Maddie Fehr, a state medalist in the class 1A 200 meter dash last season as a freshman, comfortably qualified for Saturday’s final, clocking in at 26.12 for 5th place in the prelim.

Fehr, Murphy, and Capesius all took their talents to the class 1A 100 meter preliminaries as well in Thursday’s afternoon session. Fehr, competing in the 100 meters at state for the first time, placed 5th and guaranteed a spot in Saturday’s final, checking in at 12.63 seconds. Murphy and Capesius did not advance, with Murphy finishing 14th in 12.83 seconds. Capesius was 23rd in 13.13 seconds.

While Wolverine sophomore Maddie Fehr guaranteed herself a pair of state medals by qualifying for Saturday’s 100 and 200 meter final, fellow sophomore Tyra Schupbach earned a state medal in the class 1A girls 3000 meters for the second consecutive season, moving up one place from last season by taking 5th in 10:53. Schupach put herself within the top five right from the gun, withstanding rising temperatures and an even more blistering early pace to hold on for her second career state medal.

West Bend-Mallard also continued to show their depth in the middle distance events by placing their girls 4×800 meter relay 17th in class 1A in 10 minutes 25 seconds. Abi Schmidt split 2:41 on the opening leg, Allie Fehr followed her with a split of 2:35, Addie Montag chipped in a 2:40 on the third leg, and Kierstin Montag anchored in 2:28.

The Bishop Garrigan boys track team also had several athletes compete on day one of the meet, as the shuttle hurdle relay team of Sam Plathe, Owen Murphy, Kyle Bormann, and Tate Foertsch took 19th in the class 1A preliminaries in 1:06.07. Senior Justin Bauer finished 17th in the class 1A 400 meter timed finals, his first of three events on the weekend, in 51.82 seconds.

In the class 1A field events, North Union senior Olivia Merrill proved that third time is the charm, finally earning a coveted state medal in her third career trip to state, placing fourth in the girls shot put with a throw of 38-05.75 on her fifth throw of the competition. Merrill’s 37-05 on her first attempt initially qualified her for finals, before that mark was bested on her fifth attempt.

North Union senior Colin Rasch also earned his first career state medal after narrowly missing out last season with a 9th place finish. This year, Rasch was 7th with a throw of 49-05.50. Rasch threw 48-11.25 on his first attempt, which held up to get him through to finals, and he eventually improved that mark on his sixth and final throw of the competition.

The state meet resumes with day two of competition beginning Friday morning at 9 A.M.

Athlete Interviews

Abbie Capesius – Bishop Garrigan – class 1A girls 400 meter dash

Algona Girls 4×800 meter relay class 3A (Andi Jensen, Mara Davis, Malyn Davis, Macy Knapp)

Justin Bauer – Bishop Garrigan – class 1A boys 400 meter dash

Bishop Garrigan boys class 1A shuttle hurdle relay (Sam Plathe, Owen Murphy, Kyle Bormann, Tate Foertsch)

Maddie Fehr – West Bend-Mallard – girls class 1A 100 meter dash prelims

Reagan Murphy – Bishop Garrigan – girls class 1A 100 meter dash prelims

Natalie Johnson – Algona – girls class 3A 100 meter dash prelims

Reagan Haynes – Algona – girls class 3A discus

Olivia Merrill – North Union – girls class 1A shot put

Maddie Fehr – West Bend-Mallard – girls class 1A 200 meter dash prelims

Reagan Murphy & Abbie Capesius – Bishop Garrigan – girls class 1A 200 meter dash prelims

Ashton Moreno – Algona – boys class 3A 400 meter dash

Colin Rasch – North Union – boys class 1A shot put

Shriji Patel – Algona – boys class 3A discus

Tyra Schupbach – West Bend-Mallard – girls class 1A 3000 meter run

West Bend-Mallard girls class 1A 4×800 meter relay (Abi Schmidt, Allie Fehr, Addie Montag, Kierstin Montag)

Gavin Weber – Algona – boys class 3A 3200 meter run

Will Weichert – Algona – boys class 3A 100 meter dash prelims

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