Vawter leads Comets to 2nd at Belle Plaine

BELLE PLAINE – Thursday night was all about qualifying.

The best times and performances can come later.

The BCLUW girls track team managed to do some of both in a Class 1A state qualifying meet to send a large contingent to the Blue Oval.

The Comets placed second out of 13 teams with 98 points, just nine shy of Springville. Belle Plaine (75), Iowa Valley (72) and Don Bosco (67) completed the top five.

The Comets automatically qualified in five events, while earning a pair of at-large bids.

“We knew we were going to be competitive in a lot of events,” BCLUW coach Dave Weldon said. “I told the girls at the beginning, ‘We’re going to run for time, but the easiest way to get in is just to win it.'”

The Comets did that with a come-from-behind victory in the 4×800 as Sam Ubben rallied to first in the final 150 meters. Ubben teamed with Rebecca Steckelberg, Jenna Willett and Amelia Tonner for a season-best time of 10 minutes, 11.40 seconds.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Ubben said, “you have to give all you’ve got at districts because state’s the dream.”

Mallory Vawter claimed gold in the long jump, 100 and 100 hurdles. Despite the damp, chilly and windy conditions, the junior Comet adjusted quickly.

“I thought it was going to be tough running in these conditions, but it’s really not,” said Vawter, who also didn’t feel any extra pressure in the state qualifier. “I just take it as any other meet. It may have the name of districts but you’re still running it like any other meet.”

Vawter surged through the line in 12.95 in the 100 and 15.66 in the 100 hurdles, while leaping 18 feet, 1 inches in the long jump just an inch shy of her best jump that broke the NICL West Division Conference meet record last week.

The NICL West Outstanding Performer also ran the final leg of the Comets’ runner-up 4×100 unit that secured an at-large bid. Vawter teamed with Kendall Scurr, Bobbi Paper and Jorie Oaks for a time of 53.27.

Scurr, Nicolette Simpson, Ubben and Steckelberg won the distance medley in 4:34.12, while Simpson, Paper, Ubben and Nicole Lutes advanced with silver in the shuttle hurdle relay (1:12.75).

Colo-NESCO and Lisbon tied for sixth with 62 points each, while North Tama claimed eighth (54) and GMG was ninth (49).

Sam Riese earned the Royals solo state entry in the shot put and earned her third trip with a second-place heave of 109-08 nearly 17 feet better than her previous best this year. Colo-NESCO had a pair of close calls that just missed advancing with Caitlan Clark taking second in the 200 (28.91) and Shayla Dean earning third in the 400 (1:05.29).

Abi Watson led the Redhawks with a runaway victory in the 3,000 advancing to the season finale for the third time in her career. Watson broke from the pack a couple laps in to reach the finish in 11:21.70.

The Redhawks also attained victory in the 4×400 with Sam Watson, Anna Kvidera, Josie Youel and Jessi Jacobs stopping the clock in 4:21.14. Youel and Kvidera both moved on with a long jump with leaps of 16-08 and 15-10, respectively, garnering second and fourth.

Youel, Kvidera, Jacobs and Abi Watson earned a spot in the distance medley after grabbing second in 4:36.92.

Caitlin Appelgate will represent the Wolverines and advanced with a runner-up mark of 4-10 in the high jump.

Meskwaki and Gladbrook-Reinbeck scored 13 apiece to round out the field, though neither squad will have a representative at state.

Katy Thompson led the Rebels with a third-place tallies in both the 100 (13.84) and 200 (29.15).

The Warriors were paced by Grace Tahahwah’s fourth-place finish in the 200 (29.75).