DES MOINES - North Polk had something to prove in the Class 3A boys’ 4 X 400-meter relay at the state coed track meet held last Thursday through Saturday at Drake Stadium.
The Comet team of Michael Williams, J.D. Elefson, Grant Croat and Quinten Sommers weren’t on anyone’s radar entering state. They came in ranked 15th among all 3A qualifiers in the event.
But on Friday, the Comets made their way into the finals, finishing eighth with a season-best time of three minutes, 26.13 seconds. In Saturday’s finals, North Polk ran a 3:27.99 to move up two more spots, ending up the sixth-best team in 3A.
“Coming in eighth and just looking at the heat in 3A, there’s nothing we can complain about,” Croat said. “That’s good work by these boys.”
Croat was the only senior running in the group.
“After yesterday (in the prelims) I was like, this race is for you right here,” Sommers said of Croat. “We’ve got a couple more years, but this one’s for you right here. Coming in (sixth), that’s dedicated to Grant right there.”
With Croat the only loss to graduation on the Comet 4 X 400 team, the race showed what a bright future the North Polk boys have as a track program.
Sommers is a junior, Williams a sophomore and Elefson just a freshman.
“These guys are going to do just fine these next few years,” Croat said. “A lot of 400 guys are stepping up, so they’re going to fill my spot easily.”
Sommers placed in an individual event as well. He turned in a personal-best time of :55.73 during the boys’ 400 hurdles on Friday to finish eighth in 3A.
“All I dreamed was just to be here and run here,” Sommers said. “It’s an amazing experience just to run here.”
The excitement of running at state ended up paying off for Sommers in the 400 hurdles. Finishing strong had always been his strength, but on Friday he needed more than a good close to place.
“I got out super fast, probably faster than I ever (have) just because I was so amped up,” Sommers said. “I was behind until the 200 mark, but that’s when I always kick in and then on the back stretch, I had to catch people. Going over the last hurdle it was me and the ADM kid (Luke Heitz) battling it out and when I finished I looked up at the scoreboard and was just in shock. I PR’d by so much and placed, it was just unbelievable.”
Sommers beat Heitz by a mere one-hundredth of a second to win the second heat of the race and earn a top-eight spot.
Earlier on Friday, Sommers competed in the prelims of the 110 high hurdles. He came in 15th at :15.68.
Elefson ran in the 200 prelims on Thursday and Williams competed in the high jump on Friday. Elefson finished 16th with a time of :23.11 and Williams ended up 20th with a jump of 19 feet, 11.5 inches.
Caleb Lomica won the first flight and placed 11th overall in the 3A boys’ shot put with a throw of 49 feet even.
Williams and Croat joined Sutton Sears and Alec Bolletta in running a 15th-place time of 1:33.27 for North Polk in the 3A boys’ 4 X 200 on Friday.
The Ballard boys competed in three events at state in 3A. The Bombers finished 11th in the shuttle hurdle relay prelims, Kegan Odden took 18th in the open 400 and Noftsger took 21st in the 200 prelims.
“(I’m) proud of all their efforts and happy for our senior, Isaac Schafbuch,” Ballard head boys’ track coach Al Christian said.
Noftsger, Nic Edwards and Dawson Lego joined Schafbuch in running a time of 1:01.03 in the shuttle hurdle. Odden clocked in at :52.70 and Noftsger finished the 200 in :23.34.
The Bomber shuttle hurdle team moved up five spots after being seeded 16th among qualifying teams. Odden’s time in the 400 was a personal best and Noftsger has now competed at state in three events after qualifying in the long jump last year.
Collins-Maxwell’s Carter Fricke ran in both the 200 and 400 during 1A competition on Thursday. Fricke placed fourth in his heat and 10th overall in the 200 prelims with a time of :23.59 and he finished 19th in the 400 with a :53.13 showing.
“I thought Carter competed very well in both of his races, especially the 200,” Collins-Maxwell head boys’ track coach Cole Billerbeck said. “He got out of the blocks great and finished strong. He just missed out on the finals, which was a little upsetting. But finishing 10th after coming in seeded 22nd at state is fantastic. He worked hard all season. It was a great ending for a great career for him.”
Marion won the 3A boys’ team title with 69 points and Atlantic took second with a score of 63. Council Bluffs St. Albert earned the 1A boys’ championship with 64 points and Hudson was runner-up with 56 points.
Class 3A - Ballard and North Polk
Individual boys’ results
Shot put - 11. Caleb Lomica (NP), 49-0.
Long jump - 20. Michael Williams (NP), 19-11.5.
Shuttle hurdle relay - 11. Ballard (Skyler Noftsger, Nic Edwards, Dawson Lego, Isaac Schafbuch), 1:01.03.
400-meter dash - 18. Kegan Odden (B), :52.70.
4 X 200-meter relay - 15. North Polk (Williams, Sutton Sears, Grant Croat, Alec Bolletta), 1:33.27.
110-meter high hurdles - 15. (prelims) Quinten Sommers (NP), :15.68.
200-meter dash - 16. (prelims) J.D. Elefson (NP), :23.11; 21. (prelims) Noftsger (B), :23.34.
400-meter hurdles - 8. Sommers (NP), :55.73.
4 X 400-meter relay - 6. North Polk (Williams, Elefson, Grant Croat, Quinton Sommers), 3:27.99.
Class 1A - Collins-Maxwell
400-meter dash - 19. Carter Fricke, :53.13.
200-meter dash - 10. (prelims) Fricke, :23.59.