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DES MOINES — The last time Emily Yahnke was at Drake Stadium, she walked away disappointed and determined to improve. This time she walked away with a state championship in the long jump.
“It really is just a crazy feeling. I never thought I'd be at this point and be a state champion from little school Highland,” Yahnke said.
The sophomore became the first Highland girl to win a field event since 1972. Yahnke came into the day as the No. 1 seed with a qualifying jump of 17-feet 3-inches and a personal best of 17-feet 6-inches.
She shattered that on the first jump of the day, hitting 17-feet 8.5-inches, a mark that stood for the rest of the event.
Despite nailing the winning distance on the first jump, it didn’t come without some scares. Both Rylee Menster of Springville and Cherisse Ward of Iowa Valley broke the 17-foot mark, but didn’t get far enough to pass Yahnke.
“It was kind of freaking me out, I had jumped against the Iowa Valley girl, (Ward), a few times in the past and this is the first time I've beaten her, and that feels good,” Yahnke said.
After her Drake Relays performance, she went back to the drawing board and after winning a state title she said it made everything worth it.
“It really proves that every practice I put in, every meet that I tried my hardest in really paid off in the end,” Yahnke said.
So what does she hope her title accomplished? First of all, a careful pronunciation.
“It has been my goal since freshman year to get my name out there and stop having people calling me 'Yankee' and get to know my name is Yahnke,” she said. “I figured this is a good way to do it.”
After Yahnke had her last jump, the top eight lined up to receive their medals, but Yahnke couldn’t immediately celebrate her win. The first of three heats of the 100 meter dash were ready to go.
Yahnke quickly hustled to the starting line and turned in the third-fastest time in the prelims. Her 12.60 qualified her for the finals and was only 0.02 seconds off the lead.
“I was extremely tired going into it, but the adrenaline going into it and winning really helped me push through,” Yahnke said.
With her qualification in the finals, she’ll run potentially four more times at the state meet. She’ll run the anchor leg of the 4x200 meter relay tomorrow at 10:50 a.m., the 4x100 meter prelims at 12:40 p.m., the 100 meter dash finals on Saturday and potentially in the 4x100 meter finals on Saturday as well.