ALLEMAN - The North Polk girls are headed to state in eight events and Ballard came close in three events at the Class 3A coed state qualifying meet May 10 in Alleman.
Maria Gorham and Amelia Lesher both had a huge send-off in their final meet on the home track by qualifying for state in four events apiece for North Polk. Jenna Fagen and Sophie Blanchard also made it in one individual event apiece to help the Comets score 127.5 points to place third behind Dallas Center-Grimes (169.5 points) and Carlisle (150.5).
Gorham and Lesher are both part of North Polk’s qualifying distance medley and 4 X 400-meter relays. Gorham also made it in the high jump and open 400 individually and Lesher will once again be running in the 1,500 on the big stage.
“I think Amelia and Maria qualifying in four events each shows how much they have grown the last four years,” North Polk head girls’ track coach Scott Huether said. “They are veterans of the sport and they showed it Thursday night.”
“Their commitment to warming up and cooling down properly in between events was key,” Huether said. “Maria had run a 200 in the distance medley and then turned around and ran the open 400, which were back to back. Amelia had to run the 1,500 and then come back and anchor the 4 x 400. I trusted they could handle the workload because of all the hard work and toughness they showed me all season”
Gorham has made state three times in the high jump — winning last year’s 3A state title. She also ran the 400 as a freshman and 200 last year.
Lesher qualified for state in the 1,500 all four years. She is making her third trip to state as part of the 4 X 800 relay.
Gorham and Lesher will both be competing in the distance relay for the third time at state.
At the qualifying meet, Gorham won the high jump with a jump of five feet, two inches. Gorham is ranked seventh among 3A qualifiers in the event as she looks to defend her title.
Gorham dominated the 400 at Alleman. She crossed the finish line in an impressive time of 58.98 seconds to win the event by 3.37 seconds and ranks fourth among 3A qualifiers.
Lesher took first in the 1,500 with a time of 5:03.68. She won the event by 12.9 seconds and is 10th among 3A qualifiers.
Lesher and Gorham were joined Eva Schoenberg and Sierra Lambert in winning the 4 X 400 at the qualifying meet with a time of 4:14.01. DCG took second in 4:16.15.
In the distance medley, Kennedy Wendel teamed with Lesher, Gorham and Schoenberg to win in 4:25.04. The Comets beat Bondurant-Farrar by 2.58 seconds for the win.
North Polk won an exciting battle with DCG in the 4 X 800. Lambert, Sophie Blanchard and Wendel joined Lesher in running a 10:01.40 to just hold off DCG’s 10:01.59 for the gold.
The Comets enter state ranked 12th in the 4 X 800, 15th in the distance medley and 17th in the 4 X 400.
Blanchard has run on relay teams at state, but she made it for the first time individually in the 800. Blanchard ran a 2:29.46 to just edge the 2:30.17 by Carlisle’s Madi Hoekstra for the final automatic qualifying spot behind the winning time of 2:28.22 by Perry’s Sidney Vancil.
“I have always believed in her and her capability of making it to state in an individual event,” Huether said. “She’s such a hard worker and strong runner. I never gave up on her, and she never gave up on herself. The way she finished the 800 Thursday night showed me how bad she wanted it. Sophie just wanted it more than the girl next to her. It was fun to watch.”
Fagen will be competing at state for the first time. She jumped 15-10.5 at the qualifying meet to take second behind the 16-3 jump by DCG’s Sarah Frett.
“To jump her personal record at the biggest meet was impressive,” Huether said. “I know how much it meant to her, and I am very proud of her.”
Ballard placed fifth out of eight teams at the qualifying meet with 59.5 points. The Bombers weren’t able to advance anyone to state, but had three close calls.
Cassidy Thompson jumped 4-10 for Ballard in the high jump to place third at Alleman. She lost out on a trip to state after multiple girls across the state jumped 4-10 and the final qualifying spots were chosen alphabetically.
“She was real close at reaching the 5-0 height, but couldn’t quite make it happen,” Ballard head girls’ track coach Scott Barth said. “She is a talented jumper. We will work more on her conditioning next season and that should get her back over the bar at five-plus feet.”
Caitlin Maher ran a 5:21.79 to finish third in the 1,500 for Ballard.
“A bright spot was most definitely Caitlin Maher,” Barth said. “I have a feeling if we had a more complete season schedule and another week, she really would’ve taken off.”
The Bomber 4 X 100 team of Sydni Thrailkill, Jadyn Miller, Molly Ihle and Newell also turned in a third-place time at :52.70.
“They ran their best time of the season,” Barth said.
Ellie Twedt took fourth in the 3,000 for the Bombers with a time of 11:45.39.
The state coed track meet will take place today through Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. The competition for 3A begins at 2 p.m. today and Friday, and all classes start a 9 a.m. Saturday.
Final team scores: 1. DCG 169.5, 2. Carlisle 150.5, 3. North Polk 127.5, 4. Norwalk 97, 5. Ballard 59.5, 6. Perry 50, 7. Bondurant-Farrar 46, 8. Saydel 31.
Individual results - Ballard and North Polk
Shot put - 7. Leah Cam (NP), 28-8.25; 10. Alison Van Ersvelde (B), 26-6.5; 13. Morgan Johnson (B), 23-10; 14. Grace Walter (NP), 23-9.5.
Discus - 6. Van Ersvelde (B), 82-6; 7. Johnson (B), 82-3; 10. Cam (NP), 81-4; 14. Madison Paine (NP), 72-11.
Long jump - 2. Jenna Fagen (NP), 15-10.5; 4. Chloe Dougherty (NP), 14-11.75; 12. Sydney Liedtke (B), 11-10.
High jump - 1. Maria Gorham (NP), 5-2; 3. Cassidy Thompson (B), 4-10; 6. Sadie Long (NP), 4-6.
Sprint medley relay - 5. Ballard (Rachel Newell, Sydni Thrailkill, Carley Wilson, Natalie Maher), 2:00.18; 7. North Polk (Rebecca Ley, Mia Schumann, Liz Turk, Grace Croat), 2:00.91.
3,000-meter run - 4. Ellie Twedt (B), 11:45.39; 5. Sophie Schaffer (NP), 11:50.62; 7. Emily Patterson (NP), 12:06.13.
4 X 800-meter relay - 1. North Polk (Sierra Lambert, Sophie Blanchard, Kennedy Wendel, Amelia Lesher), 10:01.40; 6. Ballard (Josie Fleischmann, Caitlin Maher, Isabella Johnson, Hailey Cole), 10:42.41.
Shuttle hurdle relay - 4. North Polk (Cassandra Cory, Bailey Drent, Reagan Demmon, Schumann), 1:13.20; 5. Ballard (Taiylor Wright, Alexis Kluender, Emma Jensen, Sarah Stolte), 1:13.71.
100-meter dash - 5. Jadyn Miller (B), :13.46; 7. Fagen (NP), :13.61; 10. Kara Gorham (NP), :13.75; 13. Molly Ihle (B), :14.19.
Distance medley relay - 1. North Polk (Eva Schoenberg, M. Gorham, Wendel, Lesher), 4:25.04; 5. Ballard (Newell, Thrailkill, N. Maher, Twedt), 4:46.85.
400-meter dash - 1. M. Gorham (NP), :58.98; 7. Croat (NP), 1:07.16.
4 X 200-meter relay - 3. North Polk (Schoenberg, Wendel, Turk, Lambert), 1:51.70.
100-meter hurdles - 5. Stolte (B), :16.75; 10. Schumann (NP), :17.70; 11. Drent (NP), :17.93; 12. Wright (B), :18.24.
800-meter run - 2. Blanchard (NP), 2:29.46; 6. Fleischmann (B), 2:38.22; 8. Grace De Valois (NP), 2:48.04.
200-meter dash - 7. K. Gorham (NP), :28.61; 12 Liedtke (B), :29.92; 13. Jazmyne Bailey (NP), :30.16.
400-meter hurdles - 3. Demmon (NP), 1:13.51; 6. Cory (NP), 1:17.36; 8. Kluender (B), 1:22.20.
1,500-meter run - 1. Lesher (NP), 5:03.68; 3. C. Maher (B), 5:21.79; 5. Schaffer (NP), 5:25.67; 8. Cole (B), 5:40.56.
4 X 100-meter relay - 3. Ballard (Thrailkill, Miller, Ihle, Newell), :52.70; 6. North Polk (Ley, Schumann, Fagen, K. Gorham), :55.40.
4 X 400-meter relay - 1. North Polk (Schoenberg, M. Gorham, Lambert, Lesher), 4:14.01; 5. Ballard (N. Maher, Wilson, Fleischmann, Johnson), 4:36.86.