Effort exceeds finish at Bobcat Invite

Marshalltown senior Michaela Huey’s effort in the 1,500-meter run Monday night summed up MHS coach Chad Pietig’s final thought on the entire night at the Bobcat Invitational at Leonard Cole Field.

Huey did not come away with a victory, but she refused to quit, didn’t let the two runners in front of her get too far out in front and eventually ran past one on the final lap.

Huey ended up second with a lifetime-best time of 5 minutes, 20.62 seconds, but it wasn’t the placing or the time that impressed Pietig. It was the effort.

“She was not going to let those top two girls get away,” said Pietig. “She ended up catching one on the last lap and that summed it up. We got after it and were competitive. She had a lifetime best by 4 seconds.”

The Bobcats did register some wins on the night.

Juniors Sam Hughes and Maggie Carnahan brought home titles in the shot put and discus, respectively, while junior Rachel Blagg led wire-to-wire to win the 800 meters. Blagg also ran the opening leg in the Bobcats’ winning 4×800 relay.

Those top finishes helped propel Marshalltown to a third-place team tally in a field of six schools. Waukee won the title easily with 179 points, while Ankeny rallied in the last handful of events to pass Marshalltown with 106 points. The Bobcats finished with 94 points in third, while West Des Moines Valley was fourth with 70, Mason City was fifth with 69 and Fort Dodge sixth with 68.

“We know some of the other athletes were held off other teams, but we aren’t going to apologize for that,” said Pietig. “All we can control is our effort and I thought the kids gave great effort. We were extremely competitive. You have the opportunity to race up front in a small meet like this. That’s a great experience for us.”

Some of the other schools held back a few of their top athlete so they could rest up for this week’s Drake Relays, which kick off the high school portion of the week on Thursday.

Pietig, though, elected to run his top athletes in four events for the first time this year and would have tried to score as many points as possible even if he had more than just a relay performing at Drake Stadium.

“This is the first track meet of the year that I enjoy because you don’t have to worry about Drake,” said Pietig. “We were going to run this as tough as we could even if we had five or 10 events at Drake. This is our home meet and we want to do well here.

“The fun part is that we got to actually try to score points instead of saving kids. We ran some of our varsity kids four times tonight for the first time this year because we weren’t worried about keeping them fresh for a certain event.”

Hughes and Carnahan highlighted the night with personal-best throws in the shot put and discus, while Jasmine Scott also had a personal-best leap in the long jump.

Hughes finally heaved the shot past the 35-foot line as her final mark reached 35-3 1/4, which was more than a foot further than her previous best toss.

“I have been waiting to get that kind of throw for a long time. It feels good to finally get to that third line,” said Hughes. “And it’s really fun to do it at home.”

Hughes hit a personal-best throw with her initial toss on the night. She advanced to the finals in first place with that mark but went even further with her final push.

“My first two throws in the finals were pretty bad,” Hughes said. “So I talked to coach and he told me to not think about it and just throw it. I needed to get 35 today. It felt pretty good.”

Carnahan’s personal-best throw in the discus covered 102-6, while Scott’s personal-best leap in the long jump was marked at 15-6, which beat her previous best by a foot.

“They were competitive and they did their jobs,” said Pietig of the field event participants. “That’s what you expect from that group of girls though.”

On the track, Blagg jumped out to an early lead in the 800 and cruised to an easy win, hitting the line in 2:25.16. She went out quick in the opening leg of the 4×800 as well and gave the baton to Huey in first place with a split of around 2:23. The other two runners were Victoria Jones and Kari Smith and they ended up with a winning time of 10:34.82.

Smith did not know she was running in the race until about 20 minutes before the starting gun. Both Wynn Tan and Carolina Freire-Vales were out with injuries.

“I felt pretty good today. My goal was to win but I didn’t know what the competition would be,” said Blagg of her open 800. “There wasn’t a lot of competition today, but it feels really good. You don’t get a lot of chance for wins so it means a lot to me, especially at home.”

The Bobcats recorded several third-place finishes on the night.

Aside from her third-place tally in the long jump, Scott also was third in the 400 with a time of 1:04.22. The 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams also crossed in third, while Tabby Steffensen and Chione Brooks both scored points in the 100 with a fourth- and fifth-place finish, respectively. Brooks and Steffensen also ran together in the 4×100 and 4×200.

Pietig went with his Drake Relays qualifying foursome of Brooks, Steffensen, Karli McClure and Cassidy Blackford in the 4×100 and that group hit the line in 53.40. Brooks, Steffensen, Leah Barkema and Daesha Underhill hit the line in 1:53.43 in the 4×200, while Blagg, Scott, Underhill and Sabrina Daughtery finished third in the 4×400 with a time of 4:20.39.

“They nailed the hand offs,” said Pietig of the 4×100 relay that will run on the blue oval at 5:10 p.m. Friday. “We just don’t have those blazing sprinters. Our kids have to work for everything. We have a lot of really good kids. We just don’t have the elite kids. We have to work and have to do the training and we are starting to see some good drops. The training is finally starting to catch up and take effect for them.”

Notebook

The Marshalltown seniors were honored on the track after the 200. That group included Barkema, Brooks, Daughtery, Huey, Jones, Smith, Tan, Emily Barske, Therese Kuhlman, Emily Murtha, Jonna Shumate, Abby Snyder and Kelly Vopava. Waukee won four events on the night and went 1-2 in the 3,000. Ankeny won three events and went 1-2 in both the high jump and 400 hurdles. Brooks will be making her fourth trip to the Drake Relays when Marshalltown runs in the 4×100 relay on Friday. It was announced during the Senior Night festivities that she will continue her track career at North Iowa Area Community College.