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Saints save best placement for last at state meet
STATE TRACK & FIELD | CLASS 1A/4A

Saints save best placement for last at state meet

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DES MOINES – St. Ansgar's 1,600-meter relay has three freshmen and one senior in its quartet.

That trifecta of freshmen occupy the first two legs and the anchor leg. 

They ran above their age at the Iowa state track and field championships and delivered the Saints their highest finish of the weekend.

Hannah Clevenger, Natalie Bork and Cora Heeter teamed with senior Taylor Hanna for a runner-up finish in a school record time of 4 minutes, 9.77 seconds on Saturday and a wet and damp Drake Stadium.

"I'm over the moon with excitement," Bork said.

When did they think they could run under 4:10 and finish only behind West Monona?

"Five minutes ago," Heeter said.

Clevenger, Bork and Hanna had been the three mainstays all season. So was Heeter until the midway part of the season to focus on individual events.

The sprinter and long jumper was put back into the relay at the state qualifying meet. The move by head coach Phil Baldus paid off.

"It made it even across the board and made us two seconds faster," Hanna said.

It had been three years since Hanna had a medal draped around her neck. In her eyes, it was more than just three years in between top-8 finishes.

"It feels like it's been 10 years," she said.

For Riley Witt, it was a case of deja vu.

After running in a downpour in the 3,200 on Thursday, the junior dealt with Mother Nature again halfway through the 1,600 as a rain that was even harder than two days ago drenched the milers.

Still, Witt ran a 4:34.50 to place fifth.

"When I saw the clouds form and everybody getting out their ponchos, I was like 'Gosh dang it,'" Witt said. "I guess it was in God's plan to give me a little shower during my race."

In the open 800 in the sun, Witt went out fast and was in second place for 95 percent of the last lap until two runners passed him in the final 25 meters and had to settle for fourth.

Yet, he did break two minutes (1:57.19) and set a new school record.

"I went out fast and maybe went out a little too fast and hit the wall with 50 meters left," Witt said. "I'm thrilled with a 1:57, I didn't know I was capable of that."

He leaves Des Moines with four medals. A state qualifier in cross country, Witt is hopeful more training and an improved diet can lead him to where he wants to be: One of the elite runners in 1A.

"I knew was going to be in a good enough shape to get a few medals," he said. "I'm pretty good at consistency, I'm pretty good at sleep."

Lake Mills sophomore Ella Stene placed fourth in her very first 100 hurdle final in a time of 16.06 seconds, .04 off her season best.

Despite not breaking 16 seconds, getting a top-5 medal satisfied her enough.

"At least I made one of those," Stene said. "Top-5 is a big goal and my goal by senior year is to be (a) state champ. I have a lot to work towards."

Stene is wanting to work on her starts for next spring. She stated the fear of disqualifying has held her back in getting off to good starts.

"I feel pretty slow," she said. "I need to work on it and it'll get better. I really want to stay in and take every chance I can to be better."

West Hancock boys shuttle hurdle relay placed fifth despite clipping a couple hurdles. Bryer Subject, the anchor, felt some disappointment the quartet couldn't break 62 seconds.

"We've been shooting 1:02 all the year; it was too far away," he said. "It is a little upsetting. Some days you can't time it right, it just happens."

St. Ansgar's 1,600 relay on the boys placed seventh.

Class 4A

Mason City had one representative in Saturday's finals as junior sprinter Jada Williams finished seventh in the open 200 with a time of 26.54 seconds. 

"That was one of my goals was to medal in the 100 or 200," Williams said. "It is a little upsetting, but it is okay."

The UW-Milwaukee basketball commit stated that one area that she feels needs to be improved on is her starts.

"I need to get out of the blocks better," she said. "If I work on that, I'll get a solid 25 (seconds).

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

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