If there was a specific takeaway from the Maquoketa Valley boys latest trip to the Class 1A State Track and Field Meet in Des Moines, May 16-18, it was probably the collective performance of the five competing relay configurations that takes the cake.
The Wildcats earned runner-up finishes in both the 4x200 and 4x400-meter relay teams and added a fourth-place crossing in the sprint medley. Senior James LeGassick also provided a medal-finish in the 400 hurdles to represent the Wildcats in the individual events. These performances accounted for all of MV’s 22 team points as the Wildcats closed out the meet 11th of all 1A contenders.
The 4x200 group of Daniel Hunter, LeGassick, Derek Becker and Chance Downs won the first of two heats in 1:32.42 and finished with a silver medal in the final behind champion St. Albert (1:31.47) and ahead of third place Monona (1:32.55). Pekin (1:32.77), Dunkerton (1:32.92), Don Bosco (1:33.01), Sioux Central (1:33.11) and New London (1:33.17) rounded out the scoring teams.
The 4x400 may have one-upped that effort, however, as Becker, Evan Hoefer, LeGassick and Downs ran through the prelim with the first seed in a new school record time of 3:25.6. When finals rolled around, the Wildcats ran 3:25.85 to earn a runner-up finish to St. Edmond (3:25.73). Hudson (3:26.16) was third, followed by St. Albert (3:26.65), Woodbine (3:27.67), Moravia (3:28.82), Saint Ansgar (3:32.63) and IMK-Manning (3:32.69).
The sprint medley team of Hunter, Chad Neuzil, Derek Becker and Downs finished fourth (1:36.58) in both their heat and the compiled results. Lynnville (1:35.67) took the win, followed by St. Albert (1:35.93) and St. Edmond (1:36.35). The Wildcats took down GMG, Garwin (1:36.6), Hudson (1:37.0), Saint Ansgar (1:37.6) and Sioux Central (1:38) in the final standings.
In the individual events, Hunter finished seventh in the third heat of the 100-meter dash preliminaries. His time of 11.71was 17th overall. Chance Downs also took seventh in the third heat of the 400 prelim, finishing 10th overall with a time of 51.66.
The Wildcats had a pair of qualifiers in each hurdle event as well. Chad Neuzil was second in his 110 high hurdle preliminary heat with a time of 15.39. He finished just one spot shy of the finals, in ninth. Legassick was fifth in heat three of the 400-hurdle prelim in 56.96. His mark held up for eighth-place and was good for one team point for MV.
In the field events, Norm Wilson finished one spot shy of scoring in the shot put with a mark of 47-5.5, while teammate Brian Heims (43-8.5) finished 20th. Blake Becker earned a 14th-place showing in the discus (131-4) and AJ Ambundo jumped for 18th in the high jump (5-9).
Hunter, Hoefer, Zach Digman and Neuzil ran for third in heat three of the 4x100 prelim, finishing tenth overall in a time of 44.84. In the shuttle hurdles, Becker, Teige Hunt, Legassick and Neuzil qualified for finals with the fifth seed and a time of 1:02.74. However, an unfortunate turn of events would lead to a disqualification of both the Wildcats and Fremont-Mills in the final.
As a whole, it was a fitting end to one of the more memorable Maquoketa Valley boys track and field seasons in recent history.
“We competed very well. It was a good representation on our part,” veteran head coach Pat Meehan said of the experience. “One highlight was the 4x400 breaking the school record by four seconds. I also thought we would score team points in the higher 20s. We just missed scoring more in the 110-hurdles, 4x100, shuttle hurdles and shot put.”