DRAKE RELAYS: Appelgate grabs 12th place in high jump

DES MOINES – For GMG junior Caitlin Appelgate, competing in the 104th annual Drake Relays was good enough.

But it turns out, the Wolverine deserved to be among the state’s best high jumpers. And she proved it Friday morning when she captured a 12th-place finish with a best jump of 5 feet, 2 inches.

“My goal was to make opening height. I am just really happy to be here frankly,” said Appelgate, who had never competed inside Drake Stadium before. “My best jump this year was 5-2 3/4 and I got 5-2 today, so I was really happy with that.”

Seven jumpers ended at 5-2. Appelgate was the last of that group based on missed jumps, but a top 12 finish in her first-ever Drake Relays was more than she could have ever imagined.

MOC-Floyd Valley’s Alexis Conaway won the event with a jump of 5-8, while Kasey Reuter of Hinton was second at 5-5.

South Hardin sophomore Sarah Boomgarden also was a part of the field. She hit on her first jump at opening height but missed three straight jumps at 5-2 and finished in a five-way tie for 14th.

“I feel like I haven’t had a meet in a really long time and when we do the conditions are crappy,” said Boomgarden. “We haven’t had much time outside either. This year just wasn’t what it was last year and I just felt like I couldn’t properly get ready for this. I have to work really hard on my own because the weather conditions are not going to help us.”

West Marshall junior Jennifer Davis also participated at the Relays on Friday. She competed in the shot put for the second straight year and placed 20th overall.

“It could have been better. I threw two feet farther last night. It was like this last year though,” said Davis. “It’s not that intimidating. It is interesting. You just feel different in the ring. I was more disappointed last year. I guess I didn’t know what to expect this year.”

Davis’ best throw was 36-2 1/4. She tossed it just under the 36-foot mark and scratched on her final throw. She went past 38 feet at her high school meet on Thursday and that mark would have put her into the top 10 at the Relays.

Dasiana Larson of Garner-Hayfield won the event with a 42-1/2 and was one of five who threw it past 40 feet. Alexa Hunt of Des Moines Roosevelt was second with a toss of 41-10 1/4.

“I need to have more confidence,” said Davis, who threw it past 40 feet twice last season. “I need to have my glide intact and do a few tweaks here and there.”

Appelgate, Boomgarden and Davis all have hopes of making it to the state meet next month. Boomgarden and Davis are both veterans to the event, but Appelgate has never competed at state before.

Appelgate wants to keep improving her height, earn a spot at the state meet and move past her own school record of 5-4 before season’s end.

“It’s a little overwhelming when you first come in, but I calmed down and then it felt like just another track meet with a lot of other things going on at once,.” Appelgate said of competing at her first Drake Relays. “There are really good jumpers in this field.”

The most important thing for Boomgarden from here on out is to just be able to get some meets in. The weather has done little to help the athletes this spring with so many postponements and cancellations.

“I would like to really get some work in,” said Boomgarden, who competed in the high jump at the Drake Relays as a freshman last year. “I want to do well at the conference meet Monday and (the district meet) is soon after that. I just need to get some meets in.”

Appelgate said she is used to jumping indoors because GMG doesn’t have its own track.

We don’t have a track anyways, so we are used to being inside,” she said. “I just have to be ready for whatever is out there.”