Grant Kelchen won the Class 4A high jump and Damon Jaeger the long jump to lead Western Dubuque to a fifth-place team finish at the 2019 Co-Ed Track and Field State Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, May 16-18.
“The efforts of this weekend from the Bobcats were nothing short of fantastic,” said Western Dubuque coach Tom Jasper. “To finish fifth overall in Class 4A is a tremendous accomplishment.”
West Des Moines Valley dominated the team race and finished with 89 points as a Central Iowa Metro Conference trio grabbed the top three spots. Ames took runner-up honors with 63 points, while Waukee was third at 60. Bettendorf was fourth at 45 and the Bobcats were close behind with 44 points.
“Many of our guys competed in events in which state meet records were broken and they competed at an incredibly high level,” Jasper said.
Kelchen fought off elimination three times to win the high jump at 6-8 Thursday afternoon, clearing on his final jump at 6-5, 6-7 and 6-8 to grab gold.
“I still can’t believe it. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said. “ I’ve always set high standards but the fact it’s finally here is mind-blowing.”
“When I was the last jumper, I thought, ‘If I make this I’m a state champion,’ and that gave me all I needed,” said Kelchen.
Kelchen celebrated by running to the stands and leaping into the arms of Jasper for a crowd-pleasing embrace.
“Grant’s state championship in the long jump was a story for the ages,” said Jasper. “He has put so much time into his craft and truly earned a title. It was an honor to coach him and we are just so excited for all of his accomplishments.”
Jaeger — who proved to be one of the top athletes in the 4A meet — rode his top seed in the long jump field to a state title that was a surprise to few at Drake Stadium, saving his best jump for the final attempt to win at 22-7.75.
“It’s amazing. This has been my goal the entire season,” he said. “I accomplished it and it’s a good feeling.”
“My last jump was my best. I knew I’d won already, so I kind of went out there and didn’t set up or anything,” said Jaeger. ”I just ran up, jumped, and it was my best one.”
Jasper had glowing praise for his senior standout.
“Damon cemented his legacy as an elite athlete in the state,” he said. “He brought home four medals on the weekend, including his state gold and a runner-up finish in the 4x200 relay. Damon is incredibly hard-working and is so deserving of his accolades.”
Zack Butcher had a fine day, jumping 21-9.75 to take fifth and earn a second medal in the event for the Bobcats.
Ben DeSollar and Jason Simon-Ressler were seventh and eighth in the shot put as DeSollar threw 52-9.5 and Simon-Ressler 52-4.5. Simon-Ressler overcame fouling on five-of-six attempts to grab the final medal.
“Ben and Jason showed up huge in the shot put,” said Jasper. “Both are very new to the event and to bring home medals — with Jason doing it two years in a row — is a testament to their hard work. “
The Bobcats have been solid in the relays all year, and the state meet was no different, as they medaled in four events.
The 4x200 team of Drake George, Butcher, Fagerlind and Jaeger finished in a blazing 1:27.89 to take second — behind only a Valley foursome that set a new all-time state meet record to win in 1:26.17.
George, Butcher, Burds and Jaeger were sixth in the 4x100 in 42.63, the 4x400 team of Butcher, Sam Goodman, George and Burds was seventh in 3:22.85 and the shuttle hurdle relay earned eighth with Kelchen, Logan Brosius, Jaeger and Achenbach finishing in 1:01.85. Western Dubuque’s final competitor in the field events — Justin Kluesner — threw 140-7 to take 17th in the discus, capping a nice season in the circle.
In the running events, Will Burds was the top individual finisher for Western Dubuque, running 53.82 in the 400 hurdles to earn sixth. Collin Hogan was 23rd in the 100 at 11.63, Daniel Fagerlind 23rd in the 200 at 23.3 and Kale Cartee 23rd in the 800 in 2:01.77.
Connor Coyle (4:39.59) was 20th in the 1,600, Cade Messer (10:29.17) 21st at 3,200 meters and freshman Ethan Achenbach (15.72) 22nd in the 110 hurdles.
Cartee, Eli Naumann, Brenden Begle and Goodman were 11th in the 4x800 in 8:11.07, while George, Hogan, Burds and Goodman ran to 11th in the sprint medley in 1:35.21. The distance medley crew of Caden Hickie, Cameron Kluesner, Jeff Theisen and Ben Mulert was disqualified and did not receive a final placing.
The state meet was a fitting conclusion to an outstanding 2019 campaign for the Bobcats. Jasper s proud of the achievements of this group.
“This was a special journey for our team,” he said. “We will greatly miss all 14 of our seniors.”