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During the state track meet, IMS and Lone Tree will have 12 events where they will compete for a state title. The Lone Tree boys’ team qualified in eight events, including five automatic qualifiers by finishing first, and the girls qualified in three events. Suzanna Yoder was IMS’ lone qualifier in the 400 meter dash.
Niko Gosnell not only earned an automatic bid, but set a personal record with a jump of 6’8”. Despite the personal best, Gosnell said he didn’t notice a difference in his jump.
“It just felt the same, I guess I just did better than normal,” he said.
Gosnell plans to keep everything consistent for the state meet and just do what got him to this point.
Jovonte Squiers placed first in the long jump, coming up just shy of 22 feet.
“It felt good, nothing wrong with coming into state second at all. I’ve just got to work on my consistency on the board” Squiers said. “I think I scratched three out of my six jumps (Thursday) …Once I get that down, I should be able to give it all out there and hopefully I can PR again.”
Casey Shalla won the discus for the second meet in a row. Shalla says qualifying with throw of over 127’ felt good, considering where he started earlier in the season.
“It meant a lot. All year, the big goal for myself was to get to the state meet. I had a goal at the first meet to throw 120’ and I only threw 105’,” he said. “So, making it to the state meet, that was my second goal of the year, that was huge for me personally and then we hit our team goals,” as the event was the eighth to go to state.
Shalla says he thinks the step up in competition will motivate him to get back up to over the 130’ foot mark.
Brock Smith also earned an automatic qualification by finishing first in the 800 meter run. Smith is hoping that with previous state experience under his belt, that he can perform better this trip around.
“I was a little nervous for the first time running there,” he said.
“Hopefully my nerves aren’t as bad as they were last year, just got to keep myself calm before the race and go out and run.”
Smith also anchored the sprint medley relay, the final automatic qualifier that came out of the WACO qualifiers. The Lions earned first after Pekin was disqualified after botching the handoff to the anchor leg. Despite the fact that the Panthers were disqualified, Smith said if felt good to keep pace with them and make the finish a tight one.
“Pekin’s one of the fastest teams in the state, so sticking with that anchor of theirs is a really good feeling to have.”
The boys qualified in both the 4x100 meter relay and 4x200 meter relay. The team of Drake Hotz, Avery Knock, Squiers and Gosnell finished fifth and fourth respectively in the tightly contested races to manage to post a qualifying time.
Hotz also qualified by placing third in the 200 meter dash. Hotz was pleased with his effort, particularly because he outran his seed.
“It was really nerve-racking because I know the top 24 make it and after I ran it, I beat some of the kids who were ranked higher than me, so it felt good to know I did better than what I should have,” he said.
Ross Swinton missed being the ninth qualifier for the boys team by less than 1.5 seconds with his third-place performance in the 1600 meter run.
For the girls’ team, the shuttle hurdle relay team of Holley Johnson, Zoie Simonsen, Marisa Swails, and Emily Feldman broke their school record (again). Despite the third-place finish, Swails knew they had done enough.
“I actually started walking straight towards the scoreboard because I saw Emily (Feldman) take off and I saw it was a 1:12 something and Holley (Johnson) was talking to me and I have no idea what she said because I was just focused on looking at the board and what time we got and when I saw it I just knew we were going,” she said.
For a state goal, Swails says they just want to stay consistent.
“A 1:12. I think we’d be happy to get that again.”
In addition to qualifying as part of the relay, Feldman will also be competing at state in the long jump, her first year competing in the event, and the 100 meter hurdles.
“I felt really awesome when I made it, I was nervous going into it because I didn’t know what to expect going in with this being my first year doing it,” she said.
“It was pretty awesome. It was my (personal record).”
When it came to the shuttle run, Feldman is proud that her constant improvement has resulted in a trip to state.
“That was cool, just seeing my times improve throughout the season was awesome. To be able to make it was just the icing on the cake,” she said.
For Suzanna Yoder, the qualification in the 400 meter dash is the fulfillment of a promise she made to herself last year.
“When I went to watch the state meet last year, I told myself that I would be running in it the next year. That was my goal for the season,” she said. “After the meet Thursday, I didn’t think that would happen. After my coach told me I qualified, I was overjoyed. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”
The qualifiers will compete up in Des Moines from May 18 through May 20.
Emma Beachy was IMS’ top finisher on the night, taking second in the discus with a throw of 94’1, but did not qualify for state.
The top finish for the IMS boys was a seventh place finish in the sprint medley relay.
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