ARLINGTON — Even as a little girl, Madeline Otdoerfer ran at the state track meet.
“I’d race on the (Drake Stadium) track every year after it was over,” she said.
“I was kind of jealous of my older sisters, because they got to run there for real.”
An era will end for the Starmont girls’ track program later this month. The Otdoerfer sisters — all nine of them — have been a constant since the eldest, Jessica, was a freshman in 1989.
That’s right. This is the 22nd straight season that Coach Roger Reed has penciled in an Otdoerfer (whether Jessica, Missy, Emily, Alice, Annette, Nicole, Samantha, Whitney or Madeline) on his relay cards.
“That family has scored an astronomical number of points,” said Reed, the head coach since 1986. “They probably have a collection of 20-some state medals.”
And countless memories.
“It’s been awesome,” said Caroline Otdoerfer, who has raised nine girls and four boys (Vincent, the youngest, is a sophomore at Starmont) with her husband Richard on their dairy farm north of Strawberry Point.
“I wish we could go back and watch them all over again. You get so proud, it’s hard to put into words.”
Reed notes common themes — “an unbelievable work ethic, fierce competitors and highly coachable” — among the girls’ traits.
The high point may have come in 1996, when Alice, Emily and Annette were on the same 400-meter relay team that finished sixth at the Drake Relays.
That night was the Starmont prom.
“The girls agreed to run if we made hair appointments for them in Waterloo on the way home so they could still make it to prom,” Reed said.
“We did, they went and everybody was happy.”
Reed and Madeline agree that Annette was probably the most talented of the sisters.
“She was very good in the 200,” Madeline said. “Missy might have been the best in the 400.”
Madeline qualified for state in the 200- and 400-meter races as a sophomore, and the 1,600-meter relay as a sophomore and junior.
“She’s short and compact and strong,” Reed said. “If she was 5-foot-10 instead of 5-6, she’d be an 18-foot long jumper.”
A multi-sport athlete like the rest of her sisters, Madeline likes track because “it keeps you in shape, and when you accomplish something as a team, you can experience it and celebrate it together.”
Celebrations at home, meanwhile, become a bit more quiet with each sibling that leaves the nest, though several of her sisters routinely come to watch her compete.
“I always kind of liked the full house,” Madeline said. “We didn’t always get along, but the chaos was kind of nice.
“It seems really quiet now.”