NICL TRACK & FIELD: Trojan horses

GRUNDY CENTER – The quest for the school’s first-ever boys conference championship in track and field started last season for the South Tama County Trojans.

The Trojans fell a handful of points behind West Marshall in 2012. Seeking to avenge that narrow defeat, STC buried the North Iowa Cedar League West Division competition with strong sprinters, dominant relays and a 1-2 finish in the long jump and 100-meter dash Monday.

The end result was a first-ever conference title as South Tama finished with 132 points, beating out second-place AGWSR by 28.

“We just wanted to get it done early on,” said STC coach George Kuhter, who was voted outstanding coach of the meet by his peers. “We built this team to win the old conference. We just wanted to dominate this thing. We were able to jump out early and did the best we could.”

Two-time defending champion West Marshall was third with 77 points, while East Marshall (69) edged South Hardin (68) for fourth. Gladbrook-Reinbeck (47), BCLUW (45) and host Grundy Center (16) rounded out the eight-team field.

“I thought the kids competed, and we knew coming in we would have a shot,” said AGWSR coach Jason Berkey. “Obviously South Tama is very good and very deep. Things had to fall in the right place for us and (STC) had to have some things go wrong. (STC) competed, give them credit.”

The night definitely belonged to South Tama, which took eight wins on the night. The Trojans won four relays and took the top two spots in both the long jump and the 100 dash.

“We expected to win three of those relays and the fourth one was a gift,” Kuhter said. “The kids performed really well. We got a lot of points where we did not expect them. This was a total team effort.”

AGWSR’s Isaac Montes was voted the meet’s Outstanding Performer by the coaches. The Cougar senior was victorious in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 and also ran a 2-minute split in the 4×800 relay to kick off his night.

“I had to run a lot tonight so I tried to pace myself early in the distance races,” Montes said. “I stayed back in the mile and when I felt I could take over I just took it. I knew that in that last 400 I could out-kick everyone. That’s been my strategy this year.”

The strategy for the South Tama relay teams has been to run really fast and cruise past the competition. The Trojans did that very well Monday, winning the 4×100, 4×200, distance medley and 4×800 relays, while setting new NICL West records in the 4×1, 4×2 and 4×8.

Kyle Stephenson and Kaleb Davenport also went 1-2 in the 100 dash, and Sam Kuhter and Stephenson went 1-2 in the long jump, with Kuhter edging out his teammate by 0.75 inches.

After getting beat out by West Marshall’s Dalton Ferch in last year’s NICL West meet, both Stephenson and Kuhter knew winning conference titles this season was within reach.

“I came out a little crooked but I obviously recovered,” said Stephenson on getting off to a slow start in the 100. “I just stayed relaxed. You can’t panic. As long as I win, it is good. Winning is the most important thing.”

Kuhter added, “it feels pretty good, especially since I came in second last year to Dalton Ferch. My goal this year was to be a conference champ.

“Kyle and I are real close friends. We compete together. It’s been fun. It’s been like this a lot this year with us going back and forth.”

Other NICL individual champions on the night were South Hardin’s Bryce Zeisneiss in the discus, Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Zach Pierce in the shot put, West Marshall’s Elijah Streeter in the 400, South Tama’s Dylan Kalinay in the 110 hurdles, Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Chase Clark in the high jump, South Tama’s Kaleb Davenport in the 200 and BCLUW’s Luke Asche in the 400 hurdles.

South Tama won both the 4×100 and 4×200 with the Drake Relays foursome of Davenport, Kalinay, Daryl Bidwell and Stephenson, while the distance medley consisted of Tyler Blocker, Bo Blocker, Robert Tyynismaa and Brady Ellenbecker. Tyynismaa and Ellenbecker also teamed with Tyler Martens and Clay Waterbury to win the 4×800.

“The main goal was to win the conference title,” Sam Kuhter said. “We were so close last year as juniors. The seniors really pushed each other, and we wanted this one.”

BCLUW won the shuttle hurdle relay with Asche, Carter King, Sawyer Anderson and Will Garber and the AGWSR team of Austin Heitland, Josh Bagley, Nick Pieters and Kendal Gast won the 4×400.

Montes had another superb night in the distance races. He finished the 3,200 in 10:29.62, which was 11 seconds faster than second place Tim Rose of South Hardin. Montes edged Ellenbecker in the mile (4:39.90) and then used a late kick to sneak past East Marshall’s Ben Terrones in the 800 (2:01.77).

“I paced off Rose for a little bit in the two mile,” Montes said. “This was my last chance to win a conference title. It feels pretty good. I trusted in my training this year. And I went out and got it.”

Stephenson (11.30) beat teammate Davenport (11.46) by .16 seconds in the 100 while Duncan Ferch was third in 11.71.

BCLUW’s shuttle hurdle relay team edged East Marshall’s foursome by just .06 seconds. The Mustangs ran with Quintin Long, Sam Benzing, Drew Schossow and Mitch Berry.

Another close finish came in the shot put as Pierce threw a personal-best 46 feet, 10 inches to beat AGWSR’s Clay Meinders by an inch.

Streeter (51.91) used a strong finish in the 400, beating out East Marshall’s Zach Rubenbauer (52.49) and teammate Ferch (52.90).

“I feel pretty good about it,” Streeter said. “I had a bigger kick in the end. That was the difference. I had a lot left in me. It feels good to win. The hard work finally paid off.”

Ferch (23.38) also was edged out in the 200 by Davenport as the STC freshman ran a 23.11. Clark, Janssen, South Hardin’s Sam Shindelar and South Tama’s Grant Koch all jumped 6-0 in the high jump but Clark won in a tiebreaker.

The closest finish of the night came in the 400 hurdles where Asche survived the win by beating Eric Stoakes of Gladbrook-Reinbeck by .02 seconds. AGWSR’s 4×400 relay team also bested second-place South Hardin by .11 seconds in a very tight race.


Berkey said in a scheduling mishap, the AGWSR prom was the same weekend as the Monday NICL conference track and field for the first time in 17 years. … West Marshall had won three of the past four NICL boys track and field championships. AGWSR was the other winner in 2010. … Dalton Ferch and Duncan Ferch finished 1-2 in the 200 last year. Duncan Ferch finished second on Monday, losing to Davenport by .27 seconds. … Zeisneiss has now won the NICL discus crown in three straight seasons. His winning throw Monday was marked at 147-8 3/4. … Pierce took sixth in the shot put last season, while Meinders was the conference champion.