STATE TRACK: Gomez caps big year with another medal

DES MOINES – Marshalltown’s Pedro Gomez has had quite the senior season. Following all-state recognition in football and a state championship in the heavyweight division in wrestling, Gomez added to his hardware Friday with another stellar performance on the state’s biggest stage.

Gomez threw a personal-best 50 feet, 7 inches in the Class 4A shot put Friday and that effort gave him a fifth-place medal at the Iowa Co-ed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium.

“The one thing he has done well the last half of the season is improving his footwork,” said MHS coach Mike Eggleston, who works with Gomez and the other MHS throwers. “That is important for a spinner. He has gradually improved throughout the year and just did a tremendous job today.”

Gomez hadn’t hit a throw better than 50 feet all season, but once again saved his best for last. He qualified for the final eight with a throw of 48-11 1/2 and then moved up in the order with a 50-7 on his first throw of the finals.

“Ever since my sophomore year, I figured out how to be good at the biggest stage,” said Gomez, who will play football and wrestle at Ellsworth Community College next season. “I just gave it all I had and did well when it mattered.”

Shaquille Wells of Urbandale defended his title with a throw of 59-7 1/2 on his second attempt. The Drake Relays champion also hit 59 one other time and his final throw covered 58-8 3/4.

Newton’s Derrick Hurt edged West Des Moines Valley’s Jake Campos for second. Hurt’s best throw was 55-3/4, while Campos only hit 55 feet. Indianola’s Keegan Render also was ahead of Gomez at 51 feet.

“They are pretty good at what they do and they work hard at it just like everyone else,” Gomez said of the rest of the field. “I bet they have a little more of a passion at this than I do though. I still think I can throw farther than that. We hit 54s and 55s in practice. I am happy though. It went well.”

The Marshalltown girls track team also competed Friday, running in two relays on the Jim Duncan Track. The 4×200-meter relay team of junior Chione Brooks, sophomore Jasmine Scott, freshman Tabby Steffensen and senior Eisha Oden finished in 19th with a time of 1 minute, 50.44 seconds.

The Bobcat 4×400 team also ran on the blue oval. The team of Rachel Blagg, Scott, Steffensen and Saryn Case crossed in 23rd with a time of 4:23.47.

Gomez entered the state meet with the 11th best qualifying throw. None of that mattered though as the Bobcat senior eventually prevented Cedar Falls senior Ross Pierschbacher from advancing to the finals. Pierschbacher, a junior who is committed to play football at Iowa, came into the meet with the fourth best qualifying toss.

“This is my best year ever,” Gomez said. “It feels good. I really thought I was going to be a state wrestling champion and that’s it. I never thought I would be here at Drake throwing as one of the top 24 guys in the state. It is a pretty good feeling.”

Eggleston said the kind of year Gomez had can be attributed to early hours in the weight room and plenty of hard work in between.

“This year was all developed in the early morning hours,” said Eggleston, who was the defensive coordinator under former MHS football coach Dave Holdiman. “We have worked awfully hard with him. He has been a dedicated athlete when it comes to working on strength and agility programs. He has come a long ways. He has put in a lot of time to get to where he is.”

Blagg will compete in the final MHS event with today’s 800-meter run.

That event is set to kick off at 9:50 a.m. today.