Bobcats spring back into action

WAUKEE – It looked like a typical first meet of the season.

There were plenty of hurdles clipped, lots of handoffs botched and even some early clock and computer malfunctions.

The cold and windy weather even looked a bit familiar for a track meet taking place on April 1.

But despite every team looking a bit rusty at times, Marshalltown coach Chad Pietig thought it was a good start to the season and was happy with how his Bobcat girls performed at the Waukee Girls Invitational on Tuesday night at Waukee Stadium.

Marshalltown managed four top-10 finishes on the night as sophomore Tabby Steffensen finished in a tie for eighth in the 100-meter dash and three relays were in the top seven.

“I thought we competed well against a very tough field,” said Pietig. “If facing some of the best teams in the CIML wasn’t enough, they went ahead and threw in two of the best teams (Iowa City High and Cedar Falls) in Eastern Iowa, too.”

There were no team points kept on the night, but Waukee was far and away the best performer. The Warriors won nine events and finished second in five others. They went 1-2 in the shot put and grabbed two top-five tallies in the same event two other times. Waukee was victorious in the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×40 and ended up second in the 4×800, sprint medley and distance medley.

“The coaches were pretty happy with what we saw tonight,” said Pietig. “None of us were at our best and we didn’t go up against cupcakes. This was a tough meet.”

The Bobcats’ best finish came in the sprint medley where they took third thanks in large part to an incredible anchor leg by junior Rachel Blagg. Senior Chione Brooks gave the Bobcats an advantage at the first exchange and Cassidy Blackford held her own on the second leg. Jasmine Scott ran well against a charging field, but it was Blagg’s rally in the final 200 meters that gave MHS the bronze.

Blagg picked off three runners in front of her and finished off the race in 1 minute, 57.6 seconds.

Blagg also anchored the Bobcats’ 4×400 team to an eighth-place finish. That foursome also included Scott, Victoria Jones and Daesha Underhill as they hit the line in 4:47.40.

The second-best finish of the day for the Bobcats came in the 4×200 relay. Two of the four members that ran in the state meet were back at it in the season opener and the foursome of Brooks, Blackford, Leah Barkema and Scott ended up seventh with a time of 1:54.80.

“The kids that were expected to do well, held their own tonight,” said Pietig. “We built this entire lineup on trying to do what we could to qualify for the Drake Relays. There were no team standings kept so we didn’t have to worry about scoring points.”

Steffensen also was on that 4×200 team that ran at state last year but only ran in two events Tuesday as she works her way back from injuries sustained during basketball season.

The Bobcat sophomore did fare well against a tough field in the 100 as her 13.4-second sprint was good enough for a tie for eighth.

“Tabby did not run in a single indoor meet and last week was her first full week of practice, so we are very happy with how she ran in that 100,” Pietig said. “That was a field full of state qualifiers and she held her own nicely.”

Junior Maggie Carnahan also was 11th in the discus with a best heave of 92 feet, 1 inch. Carolina Freire-Vales fared well in the 400, taking 12th with a time of 1:09.40. Scott and Karli McClure went back-to-back in the long jump as Scott was 14th with a jump of 14-6 and McClure was 15th at 14-4 1/2.

Notebook

Pietig decided not to enter anyone in the high jump because the varsity jumpers did not finish until 6:30 and he knew it would be a long night. The field events were definitely the part of the meet that needs the most improvement for MHS. But not only did no one compete in the high jump, Pietig also said his long jumpers haven’t had much time to practice at Leonard Cole Field because the sand was still frozen as late as last week. Eisha Oden is the only member of the 4×200 team that ran at state last year for MHS, but Blackford should fill the void nicely. The Bobcats’ time Tuesday was only 4 seconds behind the time MHS ran at last year’s state meet. Marshalltown will next run at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at a makeup meet in Boone.