DES MOINES — Jeff Linder of The Gazette/KCRG previews the girls’ portion of the state track meet Thursday through Saturday at Drake Stadium.
Individuals to watch — Erin Hawkins, who spearheaded Des Moines Roosevelt’s sprint brigade that ran roughshod through the Drake Relays three weeks ago, tore an ACL and will miss the state meet. Maddie Rouw of Waukee is the top seed in the 100-meter hurdles and will anchor the Warriors’ state-leading shuttle hurdle relay. Allanah McCorkle of Davenport Central is No. 1 in the 200 and the anchor of the 800-neter relay leader. Anna Peer of Bettendorf has the top time in the 3,000 and is a key member of the Bulldogs’ 3,200 relay. Lydia Saggau is third in the 800 and will run on the top-seeded 1,600 relay for West Des Moines Valley.
Previewing the team race — After the Drake Relays, you’d figure Des Moines Roosevelt was a lock to claim the 4A title. Not so fast. Yes, the Roughriders are a prime contender, but Hawkins’ injury brings them back to the lead pack. At least three other teams, including defending champion Iowa City High, are back in the mix. The Little Hawks are seeded No. 1 in just two events (Kiera Washpun in the long jump and Meg Richardson in the 1,500), but will score well across the board. Plus, they have a knack for scoring above their seeds at state. Waukee and West Des Moines Valley also are capable of piling up the points. It probably will take 70 or more to bring home the championship.
How they’ll finish — 1. Iowa City High, 2. Des Moines Roosevelt, 3. West Des Moines Valley, 4. Waukee, 5. Iowa City West.
Individuals to watch — Solon’s Lauren Benzing has established herself as a slight favorite in the 800 (she ran 2:18.95 at regionals) and the 1,500 (4:51.37). Davenport Assumption’s Maddie Irmen and Rose Ripslinger are seeded 1-2 in the 200, could do similar damage in the 400 and are cornerposts in the Knights’ sprint relays. Katelyn Weimerskirch of Dubuque Wahlert and Dakotah Goodell of Williamsburg should contend in both throwing events.
Previewing the team race — Don’t be misled by a third-place regional finish. Davenport Assumption is the favorite. The Knights are seeded No. 1 in four events, No. 2 in six, and are capable of scoring in triple digits if they run to their potential. Defending champion Dubuque Wahlert and Solon both outscored Assumption at the DeWitt regional — and the Golden Eagles and the Spartans will have plenty of glorious moments of their own this week — but it will be difficult for anyone to keep up with the Knights.
How they’ll finish — 1. Davenport Assumption, 2. Dubuque Wahlert, 3. Solon, 4. Mount Pleasant, 5. Waverly-Shell Rock.
Individuals to watch — West Fork’s Taylor Twedt is a top-flight hurdler and high-jumper who will threaten in four events. Brooke Wolterstorff of Western Christian is seeded in the top five in three individual events (100, 200, 400) and anchors the Wolfpack’s top-seeded 400 relay. Mariah Kauder of Cascade is a top-four seed in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000, and will anchor a distance medley relay that rates No. 1.
Previewing the team race — Why Cascade? Here’s why: The Cougars are ranked No. 1 in four relays (the 400- and 800-meter relays, plus both medleys). And they’ve got Kauder to score well for them in the distance events. Should Cascade stumble, there are several quality teams ready to pounce. Hudson is equipped to score in at least nine events, West Branch is strong in the distances and Wolterstorff keys Western Christian. Still, after the way it competed against the big schools at Drake, it just seems like Cascade’s year.
How they’ll finish — 1. Cascade, 2. Hudson, 3. West Branch, 4. Western Christian, 5. Gilbert.
Individuals to watch — Youth is the theme in the small-school class. Three of the top individuals are freshmen. You’ve got Jasmine Staebler of Clayton Ridge, the top seed in the 400 and the No. 2 runner in the 800. You’ve got Nicole Miller of North Linn, who ranks No. 1 in the 800 and will anchor three top-rated relays (1,600- and 3,200-meter and distance medley). And you’ve got Rebekah Topham of Griswold, the Drake Relays champion in the 1,500 and 3,000. Manson-Northwest Webster soph Ellie Herzberg is the favorite in the 100 and 200.
Previewing the team race — Who can get to 40 points? And can anybody extend beyond that? Defending champion Griswold should be in the vicinity; Topham will be a threat — if not the favorite — in each of her four races (800, 1,500, 3,000, 400 hurdles). North Linn is top-seeded behind Miller in four events, and Clayton Ridge has an opportunity to rise from years of track obscurity. West Hancock might have the highest ceiling; the Eagles are seeded in five relays.
How they’ll finish — 1. Griswold, 2. West Hancock, 3. North Linn, 4. Clayton Ridge, 5. Belle Plaine.