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PREP GIRLSTRACK AND FIELD | CLASS 2A STATE QUALIFIER

Brownlee, Street battle twice in open sprints; Forest City squeaks past New Hampton for title

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It is a one-year friendly rivalry.

Clear Lake's freshman sensation Reese Brownlee and Osage's senior stalwart Meredith Street have had their fair share of battles this season. It started at the Dickinson Relays in March.

It will end at the state meet in one week.

Those two went head-to-head in the 200 and 400-meter dashes on Thursday at Osage High School and it didn't disappoint. Brownlee ran a new lifetime best of 57.96 seconds in the 400 and Street got under the 60-second threshold for the third time this year.

"I remember the first time we met at UNI, she was so kind to me and it made me feel like I belonged with those good runners," Brownlee said. "She's a super good track friend."

"She's a naturally great athlete," Street added. "It definitely pushes me when she's at a meet. It is awesome to get that competition."

The surprise of the night was the team race. Forest City led by seven points entering the 1,600-meter relay and needed at least a fifth place finish to stave off New Hampton.

The Indians got exactly that from an unlikely quartet of Keevan Jones, Emilie Weaver, Jaden Jerome and Brennen Grunzke. They won't run on the Blue Oval next week, but they did enough to win a district title, clipping the Chickasaws 111-110.

"I'm really happy for these girls, the coaches and all the parents who have put in the time sitting in the cold weather," Forest City head coach Jason Sopko said. "We thought we'd be in the top three or four. A ton of things fell into place."

Street and Brownlee have developed a relationship where whenever they are in the same meet, they'll chat. It made Brownlee way more comfortable in the early portion of the season.

"She's such a good competitor it makes me want to push," she said. "Running against her is when I got my best times."

There's a residual effect of feeding off each other. 

Brownlee nipped Street at the line in the open 200 by .3 seconds. After the 400, they exchanged a hug. After the 200, both of their final events of a long day that saw temperatures reach near triple digits, they still talked.

It was the final time Street, bound for UNI for volleyball, ran on her home track for the final time

"It is cool to have the last regular season meet be on the home track," Street said. "Say goodbye to the track and end on a good note."

They'll dual at the state meet in those two events while also staying busy the rest of the week.

Street won the open 100 into a headwind with a time of 13.33 seconds. Brownlee anchored the Lions to a victory in the sprint medley relay and placed second in the long jump.

"I (had) a little heat stroke in the first race, I didn't handle it very well and my long jump steps were a little off," Brownlee said. "I adjusted and it turned out to be a pretty good night."

The Indians got a couple surprising freshmen state qualifiers.

Colette Loges, out of lane one, finished second in the open 100 in just under 14 seconds. In the 800, Bethany Warren turned it up a notch in the final 100 meters to place second behind Lili Nelson.

"It is very exciting," Warren said. "I just tried to finish (the 800) as hard as I could. I was in fourth and I was like 'I don't want fourth' so I pushed hard."

Warren and Nelson ran the final two legs of Forest City's runner-up distance medley relay. Its 400 and 800 quartets also claimed victories to head to the state meet automatically, so too did Warren in the 400 hurdles.

The sprint medley relay placed second for the Indians.

Osage's Katelyn Johnston swept the distance events. She coasted to a win in the 3,000 and won a thriller in the 1,500 where the top-three all ran sub-5:02. Ericka Power (discus) and Brooklynn Halbach (100 hurdles) placed second to move on.

Clear Lake's Addison Doughan finished second in the 3,000 to give her one guaranteed event next week. Central Springs sent two events to state as Kaci Crum was second in the shot put and its shuttle hurdle relay placed second.

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at zachary.martin@globegazette.com and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.

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