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Osage makes furious comeback to leave with first trophy in program history
STATE TRACK & FIELD | CLASS 2A

Osage makes furious comeback to leave with first trophy in program history

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DES MOINES – When the final day of the Iowa state track and field championships commenced, the Osage girls had a grand total of eight points.

The damage it could do was going to be on Saturday, entered and projected to score in all seven of its events.

Consider the damage dealt.

The Green Devils scored in five of their seven finals, snared a state championship in the shuttle hurdle relay, two runner-ups from Meredith Street and enough depth to leave Drake Stadium with 45 points and the Class 2A third place trophy.

It marks the first state hardware for Osage in program history. Mid-Prairie won the team title with 61 points followed by 49 points from Northeast.

"We were super excited," Green Devils head coach Tom Muller said. "It's a phenomenal way to end the year. It's not just three or four girls. It takes a lot of girls ." 

Internally, Muller felt like this group was capable of producing enough points at the state meet. Still, Osage didn't discuss the team race after Thursday and Friday's action. It focused on the finals that took place in rain, sunshine and overcast.

"Everyone came here to compete and we put up some major points," Street said.

It showed out in front of a packed house in Des Moines.

Ainsley Dodd, Claudia Aschenbrenner, Brooklyn Halbach and Paige Kisley smashed their previous lifetime best by triumphing in the shuttle hurdle relay in 1 minute, 6.25 seconds.

It's the first state title in that event for the Green Devils since 2006.

"By the time we hit our fifth meet, we were like 'We're moving way faster than everyone else,'" Dodd said. "Up until districts, we weren't 100 percent sure if we were going to win it."

As a freshman, Kisley had to generate interest in the hurdles. Osage didn't have the numbers to field a shuttle hurdle relay team.

What a glow up in three years.

"I've always tried to stay after and help," Kisley said. "I always go in on Sundays to work on my own. I try to get the program going."

Halbach had to chase down on the third leg in the prelims on Thursday. The sophomore did the same thing in the finals, setting up Kisley to bring it home.

"Right away, I'm like 'I have to get to Paige, she can run them down if we're within a hurdle or two,'" Halbach said. "We're always thinking about shaving our times."

Kisley turned around about an hour later and finished third in the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.27 seconds. She was runner-up in 2019.

"We had potential to place," the senior and UNI recruit said.

Street had the biggest day.

Out of lane 2 in the 100-meter dash finals, the UNI volleyball commit blitzed to the front in the finals 50 meters to finish second in a new season-best 12.68 seconds.

Her last-stretch kick afternoon continued in the open 200, edging Dike-New Hartford's Eden Barrett by .15 seconds for another PR and runner-up finish.

"I am really happy and I feel really good," Street said. "It's really good to race girls that are faster than me to push myself extra. I focused on that extra one percent."

Muller felt her sprinting standout was tight in the final 50 meters in the 200 prelims. He noticed a drastic change watching her run when it mattered most.

"She ran a little bit more relaxed," Muller said. "In the 100, she was in seventh or eighth place until the last 35 meters."

Street anchored the Osage sprint medley quartet to a fourth place finish in a new season best of 1:50.88. She leaves the state meet with four medals with one year remaining.

"I believed in myself, but I didn't think necessarily I would get top-2," she said. "I was ready to go."

The order of Azure Christensen, Kisley, Grimm then Street was the lineup Muller felt the most comfortable with. It had been tinkered with for the majority of the season.

"We tried a lot of different people (in that first leg), it came down to Azure running the best," Muller said. "Grimm runs a great 200 for us. As long as we're in contention, I like Street as the 400 leg. They ran great."

With Addyson Grimm, the third leg in the sprint medley, and Katelyn Johnston returning on the distance front, Street in the sprints and half of the shuttle hurdle relay returning, Muller believes the Green Devils can be right back in a similar position next spring.

And there's more talent on the way with what he called an impressive group of seventh and eighth graders.

"(Addyson) Grimm is poised to have a big year; Katelyn Johnston works her butt off," Muller said. "The cupboard isn't bare by any means."

Two Forest City distance runners left Drake Stadium with medals and big PR's.

Junior Joey Hovinga shaved 11-seconds off his best mile time to place eighth in 4:31.29 while sophomore Lili Nelson broke five minutes for the for the first time this season, also placing eighth in 4:58.98.

"That's all I can ask for," Nelson said. "Breaking five boosted my confidence."

It caps a solid season for Nelson, a state qualifier in cross country. She's hopeful it springboards her into the fall for her junior year.

"Lots of training, lots of looking at my competition," she said.

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Follow him on Twitter at @Zach_Martin95. 

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