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press-citizen.comJanuary 14, 2009

West duo ready for the next level

Susan Harman
Iowa City Press-Citizen

West High's track and cross country programs are sending two more athletes to compete at Division I schools. Seniors Allison Fick and Nichole Engelhardt have accepted scholarship offers to Northern Iowa and Iowa State, respectively.

"It takes way more than talent to get to this point," West girls track and cross country coach Mike Parker said. "I'm very, very happy for both of them."

Engelhardt picked ISU over Wisconsin.

"It's a real nice campus; it's very pretty," she said of ISU. "The coaches and team were really nice when I went on my visit. Everyone was really welcoming. They are just a good team, and I have a pretty good chance of actually getting to run at some of the meets."

Engelhardt, whom Parker said is one of the most durable athletes he's coached, had an outstanding senior season, winning the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet championship and the Class 4A regional individual title. In both instances she led her team to championships. She placed third at the conference meet.

Her accomplishments are all the more impressive because when she began to run as a freshman she was doing it more to be with friends than she was as a serious endeavor. Parker has said all year that he's never had an athlete go so far in his program as has Engelhardt -- from the last kid on the bench to the team leader.

It wasn't until her junior season in track that Engelhardt started thinking that earning a scholarship was a possibility. She credits Parker with encouraging her to think along those lines and to begin to explore the possibilities.

Engelhardt's unusual path to college has some other benefits, according to college recruiters who have told Parker that they consider Engelhardt "under-trained" at this point in her career. Most runners of her ability have run a lot more miles.

"Most colleges are excited about people being under-trained," Parker said.

Oddly, Fick is in a similar position for completely different reasons.

Fick was the Press-Citizen's cross country athlete of the year as a junior, her only fully healthy season in high school. She was second in the MVC Super Meet that season and third at the regional meet.

The star-crossed Fick lost most of her freshman season with a stress fracture and then broke her leg as a sophomore. This season she ran but had to deal with another stress fracture, this time in her hip.

"No one has overcome more than her," Parker said of Fick. "She never gave up and still was able to produce times that enabled her to get a Division I scholarship."

"It's nice to know that I'll have a chance to show what I think I've had in me for a while," Fick said.

Both of Fick's parents are UNI graduates, but she said that the decision was hers and based on other criteria.

"I really liked the school first and the campus," she said. "I met with the coaches and really enjoyed meeting with them. They sounded like they had a really good program so I went up and toured the facilities with them and some of the girls. The girls seemed really nice and kind of a close-knit group that would be fun to be a part of."

Parker said both Fick and Engelhardt are outstanding students.

October 24, 2008

Finishing strong

Ryan Suchomel
Iowa City Press-Citizen

CEDAR RAPIDS -- Whenever Cedar Rapids Washington senior Lewi Manirumva passed West High junior Frank Canady, Manirumva would always end up winning.

Until Thursday.

Canady found another gear in the final sprint and raced to a Class 4A district cross country title Thursday at Noelridge Park.

"He's very good," Canady said of Manirumva. "But I was thinking I can win this race; I've just got to be strong. That was kind of my only thought."

On the girls side, West senior Nicole Engelhardt won the 4A regional title by five seconds over Maddy Becker of Washington, and the Women of Troy won their 12th straight regional title.

"That's quite an achievement," West coach Mike Parker said. "We've been to Marshalltown, to Cedar Falls, to Pleasant Valley, here; we've went everywhere and ran against so many different teams, and the girls have been able to keep a 12-year streak going.

"Those streaks mean something to us. But we want to step to the next level."

The third-ranked Women of Troy finished with 37 points, easily topping No. 9 Cedar Rapids Washington, which had 65. Unranked Linn-Mar also earned a state spot by placing third with 82 points.

The unranked West boys finished fourth with 86 points and were six points away from qualifying as a team. No. 10 Washington (54), No. 8 Prairie (66) and No. 14 Xavier (81) punched their tickets to Fort Dodge.

Canady, after his race, spent his time watching his teammates come in, hoping the team would qualify together. But only his teammate Andrew Mitchell, a senior who placed 10th, will be joining him Nov. 1.

"We wanted to get to state," Canady said.

Canady placed 24th last year at state but figures to be up near the front this fall. Thursday he beat the No. 2 runner in 4A for the first time.

"I guess it all came together today," Canady said. "We kind of stayed together until the end. Back there I threw a surge over the hill, but he caught up, and I tried to pull another surge."

Canady passed Manirumva with about 250 meters to go, then watched as the senior blazed right by him. But Canady countered with his own push and never looked back.

"I thought he had beat me," Canady said. "I thought I was done right there. I thought, it's been a good race. Then I just pushed."

"For him to not give up and fight back on that, to a guy that's beat him a few times this year ... that's what we want from all our runners," Parker said. "Usually when you get passed that close to the finish line, you kind of give up, and Frank didn't.

"And he won by a lot."

Canady finished in 15:53.00, a full 7.19 seconds ahead of Manirumva.

Engelhardt was about five second in front of the pack, crossing the tape in 15:04.89.

"She got beat by a great runner last week," Paker said. "There's a point in the race where you have to decide its either give in or go. Last Thursday I think she gave in a bit, and today she went. There was no give in at all."

Engelhardt was followed by Rachel Hegeman (4), Bridget Novak (5), Alissa Rothman (7) and Sara Stewart (20). It was the 14th straight state berth for the West girls.

"We wanted to work on preparing for state," Engelhardt said. "We wanted to work on closing our gaps between each runner. We did that."


Team scores -- 1. West High 37; 2. Cedar Rapids Washington 65; 3. Linn-Mar 82; 4. Dubuque Hempstead 104; 5. Cedar Rapids Xavier 114; 6. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 136; 7. Clinton 177; 8. Cedar Rapids Prairie 207; 9. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 258.

Top 10 -- 1. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 15:04; 2. Maddy Becker (CRW) 15:09; 3. Carolyn Newhouse (LM) 15:15; 4. Rachel Hegeman (W) 15:31; 5. Bridget Novak (W) 15:38; 6. Hattie Buikema (C) 15:40; 7. Alissa Rothman (W) 15:40; 8. Emily Saville (LM) 15:50; 9. Lauren Kelly (CRW) 15:51; 10. Grace Shemwell (C) 15:55.

WEST -- 1. Engelhardt 15:04; 4. Hegeman 15:31; 5. Novak 15:38; 7. Rothman 15:40; 20. Sara Stewart 16:22; 28. Jenna Broghamer 16:33; 49. Lizzy Laikhter 17:24.


Team scores -- 1. Cedar Rapids Washington 54; 2. Cedar Rapids Prairie 66; 3. Cedar Rapids Xavier 81; 4. West High 86; 5. Linn-Mar 91; 6. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 176; 7. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 184; 8. Clinton 193; 9. Dubuque Hempstead 238.

Top 10 -- 1. Frank Canady (W) 15:53; 2. Lewi Manirumva (CRW) 16:00; 3. Alex Ridgon (CRP) 16:15; 4. Brennan McAllister (CRX) 16:24; 5. Austin Steil (CRX) 16:35; 6. Jacob Gerber (CRJ) 16:37; 7. Sam Read (LM) 16:45; 8. Zack Hartford (CRW) 16:47; 9. Matt Stocker (CRP) 16:48; 10. Andrew Mitchell (W) 16:55.

WEST -- 1. Canady 15:53; 10. Mitchell 16:55; 14. Matt Eckman 17:07; 26. Tyler Chenhall 17:26; 35. Jeremy Kurth 17:38; 44. Jonny Arnold 17:46; 50. Phil Musson 17:57


September 20th, 2008

West runs to second in Indianola

West High's third-ranked girls cross country team finished just 15 points behind top-ranked West Des Moines Dowling and took second place at the Roosevelt Heartland Classic on Saturday at Pickard Park in Indianola.

The Women of Troy scored 82 points, while the Maroons had 67 in an 18-team field that featured some of the top schools from Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Minnesota.

Nichole Engelhardt led West with seventh place in 15 minutes, 15 seconds on the 4-kilometer course. Rachel Hegeman was close behind in 10th place, Allison Fick was 15th and Whitney Schuette was 17th.




Team scores -- 1. West Des Moines Dowling 67; 2. West High 82; 3. Hopkins, Minn., 136; 4. Wayzata, Minn., 172; 5. Johnston 182; 6. Omaha Marlan 198; 7. Shawnee Miss. North, Kan., 207; 8. Shawnee Miss. South, Kan., 209; 9. Fremont, Neb., 215; 10. Omaha Millard 226; 11. Omaha Burke 266; 12. Ankeny 269; 13. West Des Moines Valley 312; 14. Pella 335; 15. Indianola 350; 16. Des Moines Roosevelt 363; 17. Lincoln North Star, Neb.; 495; 18. Des Moines Hoover 496.

Individual leaders -- 1. Ashlie Decker (WDMD) 14:27; 2. Madie Hubbel (DMR) 14:43; 3. Kelli Budd (OM) 14:52; 4. Tanelle Berard (WDMD) 14:59; 5. Kate Maxcy (WDMV) 15:05.

West High -- 7. Nichole Engelhardt 15:15; 10. Rachel Hegeman 15:30; 15. Allison Fick 15:47; 17. Whitney Schuette 15:47; 33. Alissa Rothman 16:09; 34. Bridget Novak 16:11; 78. Taylor Fehlberg


September 3, 2008

Engelhardt, Fick set pace for West

Press-Citizen Article

West High's Nichole Engelhardt edged teammate Allison Fick to win the Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational on Tuesday in Cedar Rapids and lead the third-ranked Women of Troy to the team title with 22 points.

Engelhardt won the 4-kilometer race in 15 minutes and 33 seconds, and down the stretch out-kicked Fick, who finished in 15:35.

Junior Sara Stewart won the JV race with a time of 17:19 and West took the first 3 places scoring 19 points for the JV win. Bailee Goodfellow was 2nd and Vi Tran-Phan was 3rd.

In the Fresh/Soph race, Alissa Rothman handedly won by 31 seconds in 17:22, leaving West with first place finishes in all races.


Team scores -- 1. West High 22; 2. Cedar Rapids Washington 103; 3. Marion 118; 4. Cedar Falls 121; 5. Linn-Mar 128; 6. Cedar Rapids Xavier 160; 7. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 165; 8. Anamosa 198; 9. Solon 205; 10. Cedar Rapids Prairie 227.

Individual leaders -- 1. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 15:33; 2. Allison Fick (W) 15:35; 3. Maddy Becker (CRW) 4. Rachel Hegeman (W) 16:16; 5. Carolyn Newhouse (LM) 16:27.

West High -- 1. Engelhardt 15:22; 2. Fick 15:35; 4. Hegeman 16:16; 6. Taylor Fehlberg 16:43; 9. Jenna Broghamer 16:54; 10. Whitney Schuette 16:54; 11. Bridget Novak 16:54.

May 24th, 2008

West thrower leaves legacy of championships

Press-Citizen female track athlete of the year:

Taylor Freeman

Susan Harman • Iowa City Press-Citizen • May 24, 2008

Taylor Freeman can't be a senior, can she? She should still be a promising sophomore and part of West High's loaded throwing tandem. She should still be deferring praise to her elder-statesmen teammates and her coaches.

She's not supposed to be the one graduating and going off to college to compete against the best in the nation.

If it seems like Freeman, West High's three-time Drake Relays discus champion and two-time state champion, has been a mainstay for several years, it's because she has been. She has two All-American finishes to her credit, as well, and is likely to be a rare third-time All-American after the Nike meet in Greensboro, N.C., in June.

Freeman, who was a major part of three consecutive state titles for the Women of Troy, is the Press-Citizen's girls' track athlete of the year.

This summer she will compete in the Iowa senior spotlight meet as well as the Nike national meet. One is for fun; the other is business.

"The senior spotlight meet, I take it as a fun thing, the last thing that the seniors can do," she said. "You still want to throw as well as possible, but I'm just more looking forward to it rather than being more psyched out because I feel like I've got to throw far.

"I'm hoping to pop one out real big at Nike nationals."

West High coach Mike Parker would dearly love to see Freeman win the national meet, something he says is within her grasp if she can throw 150 feet or more.

"It's right in the range of what she's consistently done," Parker said. "Her throw at state ranks eighth right now."

She will continue weight lifting and wants to throw this summer in preparation for joining the University of Arizona team in the fall.

"Last summer I threw pretty much every single day just because I love it so much," Freeman said. "We'll see what I feel like."

Parker thinks that Freeman is well-equipped physically and emotionally to make the transition to college competition. She has talked at length with former teammate Danica Haight, who is in her first season at Michigan.

"You've got to have an unwavering confidence in yourself and what you can do," Parker said.

She must move from the comfortable embrace of teammates she's known her whole life and in a program that has known nothing but winning to a much different environment. Coaches and teammates will be new, competition venues will be new and the level of competition will increased exponentially.

"She has the personality to make friends quickly," Parker said. "I've traveled all over the country with Taylor and I know her very well. From a coach's standpoint, she's what you want. She's not only going to work hard, but she'll blend in with other people and get them to work hard."

Freeman will take a break from training this summer. Her family plans to head to the beach after the Nike meet and may visit family in Colorado and go camping in Missouri. It will be a well-deserved break for someone who's been constantly on the go throughout her high school years and is heading into major-college competition.

When asked to reflect on her high school career, she didn't bring up her titles, her Drake discus record nor her mammoth 158-foot, 4-inch discus throw that puts her fourth on the all-time list in Iowa history.

"A lot of my favorite moments are with the throwing team," she said. "The guys are so funny, and there's just so many of them."

Apparently the guys are the butts of jokes. Not so much the girls, who seem to have their own telepathy when communicating with one another.

"We all connect really well, and I think that's one of the main reasons why we are such an amazing team is because we are so close and we do have fun, and yet at the same time we work hard and we know how to get it done.

"It's supposed to be fun; it's not supposed to be just a workout, you're supposed to enjoy it at the same time. If your teammates and you yourself don't enjoy it, then it's hard to get places."

Make no mistake, Freeman is going places.



Whole team needed for West title

Susan Harman • Iowa City Press-Citizen • May 18, 2008

DES MOINES -- Kristi Schuette started grinning with 10 meters left to run, and when she crossed the finish line she raised her arms in triumph before being mobbed by her fellow relay mates Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Kalee Schilling and Dani Freeman. Schuette had finished third.

But in so doing, she guaranteed West High its third consecutive state track championship and fifth overall Saturday at Drake Stadium.

"We knew we had to be fourth or better, but we didn't want to settle for that," Schuette said. "There are three seniors on the team, and that gives us that much extra."

Schuette often has flown under the radar on a team with the kind of mighty field events that West has had, but she was somehow representative of this year's group in wringing every last point it could off the track.

"She anchored all four relay teams," junior Allison Fick said of Schuette. "It's awesome how she can handle the pressure."

The Women of Troy's third-place finish in the 4x400 relay ensured a team title by just two points over Waukee. The Warriors scored a whopping 55 points Saturday, winning three relays and scoring in seven events, but West scored in seven events too and did enough in both the 4x100 and the 4x400 to hold them off.

"I believed we were going to win, but I could do without the stress," West High coach Mike Parker said with a big smile. "There were plenty of times when the other teams did better than I thought they would do. We just kind of parred every hole. We held them all the way through. We did what we were supposed to do."

West started the day 26 points ahead of Waukee, but the Warriors had a lot of firepower left. The Women of Troy had to keep scoring, even if a couple eighth-places (Nichole Engelhardt in the 800 and the shuttle hurdle relay) and three fourth places weren't very sexy.

Sophomore Jessica Gehrke finished fourth in both the 100 and 200 meters and accounted for 10 points.

"I need to get past that fourth," she said after the 200. "Maybe I can do that in the 4x1. (The points) are very important. My coach talked to me about all the points we needed to get. The state championship is very important to us."

When it came time for the 4x100, West led Dowling by 1.5 points and Waukee by eight. Dowling wasn't in the 4x100, but West and Waukee had both relays remaining. Waukee was the top seed and West was tied for the third-best preliminary time.

West's team of Brooke Ludvicek, Breanna Nelson, Mariah Hinton and Gehrke fought their way to second place behind Waukee. Gehrke fended off challenges from Sioux City West and Cedar Falls to preserve the eight points.

"Everybody has to do their part, and Jess pulled us through," Ludvicek said.

Nelson said the relay members were confident in their ability to do what had to be done, even in an event in which three handoffs take place at top speed.

"We are a team; coach puts us in there because he knows we're good," Nelson said.

"That 4x100, that was the upper for us," Parker said. "That was the one that moved us up. All those girls are underclassmen, but we had faith in them. Jessica Gehrke played as much a part today as anybody."

That set up the 4x400. If Waukee won, as expected, West had to finish no worse than fourth. None of the four legs ever fell farther back than third. Sa-Aadu's handoff to Schilling was the only thing that was a little shaky.

"I thought she was leaving me," Sa-Aadu cracked. "But we still got it. I didn't think about it afterward. I don't care; I'm so happy."

Last year West locked up the title with most of the afternoon events yet to be run. This year was vastly different.

"It was very stressful. Now I can finally eat," Schuette said.

She said the team spent all day crunching numbers event by event.

"At one point we were off by 12 points," Schuette said. "Hadiza can't add. I don't' care; she can run fast."

"There was a lot of pressure," Schilling admitted.

After the 4x400 team picked up their sweats they sprinted toward their screaming teammates at the northeast corner of the stadium and got massive hugs all around.

Parker gave credit to assistant coaches Peggy Steva, Kate Jones, Elaina Mertens and Brad Wymer and noted that the Women of Troy qualified in all 19 events and needed every one of them.

"This was a team," Parker said. "We brought 19 events here, and we knew we were going to have to steal thirds and fourths and fifths. They knew it, and across the board they did it."

West High's seniors have not lost in the last three years. It's been 1,094 days since Valley last beat West to win the 2005 title. Apparently, Sa-Aadu wasn't entrusted with that count.


Close calls for West

Second, third-place medals extend Women of Troy's lead

Susan Harman • Iowa City Press-Citizen • May 17, 2008

DES MOINES -- It was a day of near misses for the West High girls track team, but the Women of Troy continued to pile up points in pursuit of their third consecutive state team title.

Taylor Freeman and Micaela Haight finished second and third in the shot put, respectively, to bank 14 points. Freeman was tied with eventual winner Danielle Frere of Muscatine after the preliminaries with a throw of 44 feet, 8 inches. But Frere moved ahead on her fourth throw and then unleashed a throw of 46-11 in her final attempt, breaking the 22-year-old state meet record by half an inch.

"I was close," Freeman said. "You're always a little disappointed that you don't place first, but second is amazing, and I'm very happy for Danielle.

"Overall, I threw pretty well today. It wasn't my best day, but it wasn't my worst day."

"Same here," Haight said.

Haight, who threw 43-5, fouled on her fifth throw, and she was convinced that would have been her personal best had it stayed in bounds.

• THIRD-PLACE FINISHES: West's distance medley improved its season-best time but finished third behind two teams that both broke the existing state record. Waukee finished in 4 minutes, 1.13 seconds and Dowling in 4:02.47. West was clocked at 4:10.59.

"The first lap was smoking," West anchor Kristi Schuette said.

City High previously held the state's all-time record with a time of 4:03.56 in 2001.

West's first three runners, Qiong Qiu, Breanna Nelson and Hadiza Sa-Aadu got the baton to Schuette in fourth place but still in touch with the leaders. Schuette took care of the Johnston anchor after the first lap, and the race was down to Waukee's Colette Gnade, Dowling's Betsy Flood and Schuette.

"I wanted to stay in touch, but on the back stretch they got a little farther away," Schuette said.

Gnade passed Flood in the final 100 to give the Warriors the victory.

"It's a better time than our qualifying (time), but it would have been better if we would have won," Sa-Aadu said.

"It doesn't matter," Schuette said of having to compete against teams that broke the existing record. "When you come from West High, winning is what matters."

West sophomore Jessica Gehrke placed third in the long jump with a jump of 17-7. Alexis Mitchell of Davenport Central was the winner with 18-4. Artianna Black-Scott of Waukee was second with 17-10.

"Those two are exactly who I was trying to work for," Gehrke said. "Today I didn't feel relaxed at all. I felt nervous, but that happens."

West held a 16-point lead over Dowling and Davenport North heading into the final day of competition.


Freeman smashes record

West discus thrower breaks 29-year-old mark

Susan Harman • Iowa City Press-Citizen • May 16, 2008

DES MOINES -- Taylor Freeman walks to the discus ring with the implement in her left hand. Her posture is erect. Her eyes are forward but unseeing. She gets to the circle and paws at the cement with the balls of both feet to remove any debris. She sets her feet about shoulder-width apart at the rear of the circle.


She twirls the disc in one or both hands about five or six times.

She grips the disc in her right hand and flexes her knees slightly, swinging the arm so that the elbow is up by her face.

She twitches her elbow just slightly as if to ignite the motion.

She twirls and heaves. It sails high, at least twice as high as any other competitor's toss and invariably elicits some comment from her coach, Brad Wymer.

"There it is! Get going; get going; get going."

And there it was.

Freeman, the three-time Drake Relays champion, hurled the discus 156 feet, 4 inches on her fifth of six throws to claim the state meet record in the event and win her second state championship. She broke the previous mark of 154-2, set by Robin Small of Sioux City North way back in 1979.

"It's always awesome to break records and hope someone else breaks yours in the future," Freeman said.

Her concentration was such that she threw 154 feet on her fourth throw even with a clueless spectator walking behind the circle in her view as she was about to throw. With Wymer begging, "Please stop," the spectator ambled by and Freeman ripped the big throw, which to that point, set the Class 4A record.

"Yeah, I noticed that," Freeman said. "You know, you just be patient, and you let them walk by and you get back in your zone. It depends how deep I am in my zone because sometimes I don't even see them."

Freeman won handily and erased any bad thoughts about her surprise loss last year to then-teammate Danica Haight.

"It might have driven me more to work harder to make sure that I got that spot so I wouldn't end up having the same thing happen," she said.

Freeman said her preliminary throws felt so easy that she knew she could push herself on her three throws in the finals.

"I just wanted it more; I knew I could throw farther than that so I decided to go after it," she said.

In addition, West High got some surprise points from sophomore Courtney Fritz, who is better known as a starter on the basketball team. Fritz threw 119-1 and took fifth place to give the Women of Troy needed extra points in the team race. Fritz was just four inches out of fourth place.

"It's exciting; I was four inches away," Fritz said. "First off, I wanted to make the finals because I knew I'd score. But alternately, I wanted to reach 125."

Her best throw has been 123-5.



Saturday, May 10, 2008

Teamwork keeps West winning titles


MUSCATINE -- When she wasn't competing at the Class 4A Regional meet on Friday, West High sophomore Jessica Gehrke wore a long sleeve white T-shirt that had the following slogan inscribed on the back:

"No one of us is as good as all of us."

West features some of the top individual performers in the state, including Gehrke, but the Trojans showed once again that their whole is even better than their parts.

West nearly tripled in scoring its closest competitor and rolled to its sixth consecutive Regional title with 217.5 points. Cedar Rapids Washington finished a distant second with 81 points followed by Cedar Rapids Prairie in third place with 70 points.

"That's kind of our team slogan," Gehrke said of what was written on her T-shirt. "We always think about it."

Gehrke helped lead the charge by winning the long jump, the 200-meter dash and she ran the anchor leg for West's victorious 4x200 relay squad. She also qualified for next week's state meet by finishing second in the 100.

Her winning leap of 18 feet, 2 inches broke a Muscatine Stadium record that had stood for 25 years.

"It's an amazing feeling; I get really excited," Gehrke said of breaking records. "It just makes me really happy, and it pushes me to do better.

"I didn't jump the best today, but I still feel pretty complete."

Complete would be a good word to describe West's performance overall Friday.

The Trojans won 12 events, which is four more than they won at last year's regional meet during their march to a state title. West also had at least one automatic qualifier in all but two events.

"To win 12 tonight is this team's continuation of just doing something great every time they get on the track," West coach Mike Parker said.

The top two finishers in each event plus the next best 12 at-large finishers will qualify for the state meet.

"To come here and get 17 automatic qualifiers, we can't ask for much more than that," Parker said. "These girls deserve what they get because they worked so hard to get here."

Friday's performance continued a stretch of dominance that has seen West win every meet since finishing second at the 2005 state meet.

"Our seniors are on a quest to be able to say for the rest of their lives, 'I only lost one meet in my entire high school career,'" Parker said. "This is now our 35th meet that we've won.

"We've been able to celebrate on the bus on the way home 35 straight times."

Senior Taylor Freeman continued her dominance in the discus by winning easily with a throw of 152 feet, 8 inches.

Fellow senior Kristi Schuette also starred in the relay events, including running a blistering time of 2 minutes, 17 seconds on her anchor leg of the distance medley relay that West won easily.

"Taylor Freeman is pretty good; Jessica Gehrke is pretty good; but this is a full group," Parker said. "We pride ourselves in 19 events.

"We're not going to state and try to win it in six or seven or eight big wins. We're going to try and win it and score in 19 events."

Senior Dani Freeman said that what makes West special is that nobody on the team is treated like they're special. All the girls push each other to get better on a daily basis.

"Even though we have 70 girls on the team, everyone is just as important," said Freeman, who ran in three relay events Friday. "If you're the 70th girl, it doesn't matter, you push the 69th girl who pushes the 68th girl and on and on.

"Our bad days most of the time are better than most other teams."

Team scores -- 1. West High 217; 2. C.R. Washington 81; 3. C.R. Prairie 70; 4. Burlington 56; 5. C.R. Kennedy 50; 6. C.R. Jefferson 42; 7. Linn-Mar 38; 8. Muscatine 34.

Winner, West placewinners

High jump -- 1. Laura Nierman (W) 5-3.

Long jump -- 1. Jessica Gehrke (W) 18-2; 5. Sami Hansen (W) 15-6.

Discus -- 1. Taylor Freeman (W) 152-8; 4. Courtney Fritz (W) 118-9.

Shot put -- 1. Danielle Frere (M) 44-7; 2. Taylor Freeman (W) 43-4; 3. Micaela Haight (W) 41-11.

3,000 -- 1. Allison Fick (W) 10:51.93; 2. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 10:52.49.

4x800 -- 1. West (Whitney Schuette, Anna Murray, Nichole Engelhardt, Kristi Schuette) 9:57.61.

Shuttle hurdle -- 1. Burlington 1:04.59; 2. West (Brooke Ludvicek, Nicole Jensen, Liza Minor, Natalie Mason) 1:06.06.

100 -- 1. Maddy Halyard (CRW) 12.36; 2. Jessica Gehrke (W) 12.46.

Distance medley -- 1. West (Dani Freeman, Breanna Nelson, hadiza Sa-Aadu, Kristi Schuette) 4:11.20.

400 -- 1. Nicole Erickson (CRK) 57.03; 4. Kalee Schilling (W) 1:00.74; 6. Elise Walz (W) 1:03.56.

4x200 -- 1. West (Quong Qiu, Dani Freeman, Breanna Nelson, Hadiza Sa-Aadu) 1:46.55.

100 hurdles -- 1. Allison Galvin (CRJ) 15.22; 3. Natalie Mason (W) 15.75.

800 -- 1. Whitney Schuette (W) 2:23.49; 2. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 2:23.69.

200 -- 1. Jessica Gehrke (W) 25.98; 4. Chloe Hoagland (W) 27.68.

400 hurdles -- 1. Liza Minor (W) 1:08.06; 3. Nicole Jensen (W) 1:09.90.

Sprint medley -- 1. C.R. Kennedy 1:49.41; 2. West (Brooke Ludvicek, Breanna Nelson, Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Kristi Schuette) 1:49.93.

1,500 -- 1. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 4:55.75; 2. Allison Fick (W) 4:57.62.

4x100 -- 1. C.R. Washington 50.22; 2. West (Brooke Ludvicek, Breanna Nelson, Mariah Hinton, Jessica Gehrke) 50.27.

4x400 -- 1. West (Dani Freeman, Kalee Schilling, Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Kristi Schuette) 4:05.35.



Saturday, May 3, 2008

Gehrke, Schuette finally get best of nemeses


The West High girls track team continued its streak of dominance Friday, but what made the performance more special were two streaks that didn't continue.

Sophomore Jessica Gehrke and senior Kristi Schuette both held off their more celebrated rivals on their anchor legs to lead West to victories in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay events, respectively.

Those victories were among 11 that West compiled while accumulating 234 points to run away with the team standings at the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division girls track meet at City High.

Gehrke was slightly ahead of Cedar Falls star sprinter Faith Burt when she took the baton for the anchor leg in the 4x100. Gehrke never relinquished the lead as West finished in first place with a time of 50.04 seconds.

Gehrke had extra incentive heading into the 4x100 after having finished second behind Burt in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes earlier in the meet.

In fact, Gehrke said she had been finishing behind Burt for as long as she can remember.

"That's a first for me, actually, since I was seven years old" Gehrke said of finishing ahead of Burt in either a relay or an individual event.

Gehrke benefited from three solid baton exchanges by teammates Brooke Ludvicek, Breanna Nelson and Mariah Hinton.

"Everything was great all the way around," Gehrke said. "I thought we ran pretty well tonight."

Gehrke said she had one request for her teammates heading into the 4x100.

"I told my teammates to give me the baton a couple steps ahead of Cedar Falls," she said. "And they did."

Schuette, meanwhile, had a much larger lead over City star Kelly Krei when she took the baton for the anchor leg in the 4x400, which closed out the meet. If Krei made up any distance on Schuette it wasn't much as West finished in first place with a time of 4 minutes, 4.21 seconds.

City finished second in 4:08.54 and Cedar Falls finished third in 4:10.92.

"I decided enough of her beating me by a second or a half a second or a half a step or whatever," Schuette said. "So I told my team if they got me a lead, I wasn't giving it up today.

"So I just gave it all I had, and it was enough today."

Schuette also held off her younger sister Whitney Schuette to win the 800 in 2:23.46. Whitney finished second with a time of 2:24.07.

Kristi was asked afterward what was more important, winning the 4x400 relay or beating her sister.

"Oh, no comment," she said.

West coach Mike Parker, on the other hand, had much to say about his team's performance, which also included victories by Taylor Freeman in the shot put and the discus and by Nicole Engelhardt in the 1,500 and 3,000.

Freeman's throw of 153 feet, 4 inches in the discus also set a new conference record.

"I don't care what the results say, Cedar Falls is a great team, City is a great team," Parker said. "I just don't know how these girls do it.

"It's an honor and a privilege to just go stand in that pile of them in a few minutes and say congratulations. My assistant coaches prepared this team like you wouldn't believe. So I just want to go stand in the back and say thanks for letting me go for the ride."

Kristi Schuette gave a simple explanation when asked how West made winning look so easy Friday.

"We make it look easy here because we practice hard," she said.

City, meanwhile, had victories by Krei in the 400, by Mariah Jordan in the 100 hurdles and by its sprint medley relay team. The sprint medley team consisted of Emily Sparks, Jordan, Krei and Tara Mills in that order.

MVC Mississippi Division Girls Track Meet

Team scoring -- 1. West High 234; 2. Cedar Falls 126; 3. City 1-6; 4. Cedar Rapids Prairie 51; 5. Dubuque Wahlert 34; 6. Dubuque Hempstead 21; 7. Linn-Mar 17..

Winner, local placewinners

Long jump -- 1. Jessica Gehrke (W) 16-111/4; 3. Sami Hansen (W) 15-101/4.

Discus -- 1. Taylor Freeman (W) 153-04; 3. Majesty Tutson (C) 125-0; 4. Courtney Fritz (W) 123-05.

High jump -- 1. Laura Nierman (W) 5-01; 3. Virginia Johnson (C) 4-11; 4. Stephanie Brooks (C) 4-8; 5. Ashley Weinschenk (W) 4-8.

Shot put -- 1. Taylor Freeman (W) 45-01; 2. Micaela Haight (W) 43-02; 6. Majesty Tutson (C) 33-07.

3,000 -- 1. Nicole Engelhardt (W) 10:50.76; 2. Allison Fick (W) 10:53.67; 6. Lindsay McFarland (C) 11.49.92.

4x800 -- 1. West (Elise Walz, Taylor Fehlberg, Anna Murray, Kristi Schuette) 10:01.18; 3. City (Ashley Fuller, Danielle Hudachek, Hannah Kregel, Emily Fagan) 10:18.12.

Shuttle hurdle -- 1. Cedar Falls, 1:05.60; 2. West (Brooke Ludvicek, Nicole Jensen, Liza Minor, Natalie Mason) 1:06.78; 3; City (Elaine Moen, Emily Sotelo, Aby Neu, Mariah Jordan) 1:07.21.

100 -- 1. Faith Burt (CF) 12.58; 2. Jessica Gehrke (W) 12.64; 3. Ashley Wilkinson (C) 12.92; 5. Breanna Nelson (W) 13.18.

Distance medley -- 1. Cedar Falls, 4:20.21; 2. West (Katie Kelley, Mariah Hinton, Kalee Schilling, Whitney Schuette) 4:23.39; 4. City (Emily Sparks, Kelsey Coleman, Sarah Maynard, Rebecca Rethwisch) 4:35.12.

400 -- 1. Kelly Krei (C) 58.12; 2. Dani Freeman (W) 1:00.27; 3. Hadiza Sa-Aadu (W) 1:00.57.

4x200 -- 1. West (Qiong Qui, Tiffany Roth, Chloe Hoagland, Breanna Nelson) 1:48.93; 4. City (Emily Sotelo, Jill Stephenson, Kari Mueller, Tara Mills,) 15:52.43.

100 hurdles -- 1. Mariah Jordan (C) 15.24; 3. Natalie Mason (W) 15.77; 4. Brooke Ludvicek (W) 15.84.

800 -- 1. Kristi Schuette (W) 2:23.46; 2. Whitney Schuette (W) 2:24.07; 5. Emily Fagan (C) 2:28.02.

200 -- 1. Faith Burt (CF) 25.65; 2. Jessica Gehrke (W) 26.16; 3. Ashley Wilkinson (C) 26.19; 4. Hadiza Sa-Aadu (W) 27.16.

400 hurdles -- 1. Shawn Shaddox (CF) 1:07.36; 2. Liza Minor (W) 1:08.36; 3. Nicoloe Jensen (W) 1:09.85; 4. Emily Sotelo (C) 1:12.19.

Sprint medley -- 1. City (Emily Sparks, Mariah Jordan, Kelly Krei, Tara Mills) 1:54.42; 4. West (Qiong Qiu, Katie Kelley, Tiffany Roth, Kayla Brooks) 1:58.96.

4x100 -- 1. West (Brooke Ludvicek, Breanna Nelson, Mariah Hinton, Jessica Gehrke) 50.04; 3. City (Nicole Burian, Mariah Jordan, Emily Sparks, Majesty Tutson) 52.35.

1,500 -- 1. Nicole Engelhardt (W) 4:57.51; 2. Anna Murray (W) 5:04.46; 4. Hannah Kregel (C) 5:08.26; 5. Rebecca Rethwisch (C) 5:13.08.

4x400 -- West (Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Dani Freeman, Kalee Schilling, Kristi Schuette) 4:04.21; 2. City (Jill Stephenson, Ashley Wilkinson, Kelsey Coleman, Kelly Krei) 4:08.54.

April 30th, 2008

West tops City at Prairie Relays

West High topped City High at the Cedar Rapids Prairie Relays on Tuesday, 190 points to 129.

The Women of Tory won 10 events and extended their winning streak to 1,073 days.

Taylor Freeman led West by breaking her own meet record in the discus with a toss of 151 feet, six inches.

Prairie Relays

Team scores -- 1. West High 190; 2. City High 129; 3. C.R. Prairie 77; 4. C.R. Xavier 53; 5. North Scott 49; 6. C.R. Washington 44; 7. Linn-Mar 40; 8. Davenport West 6.

Winners, local placewinners

3,000 -- 1. Taylor Fehlberg (W) 11:18.87; 3. Lindsay McFarland (C) 11:39.25; 6. Izzy Sinnick-Gordon (C) 11:58.57.

4x800 -- 1. City (Amanda Rethwisch, Danielle Hudacek, Kelly Krei, Emily Fagan) 10:04.62; 3. West (Bridget Novak, Allison Fick, Christine Skopec, Whitney Schuette) 10:13.01.

Shuttle hurdle -- 1. City (Elaine Moen, Abby Neu, Emily Sotelo, Mariah Jordan) 1:06.75; 2. West (Brooke Ludvicek, Rachel Ascoli, Liza Minor, Natalie Mason) 1:06.98.

100 -- 1. Ashley Wilkinson (C) 12.67; 6. Qiong Qiu (W) 13.20.

Distance medley -- 1. C.R. Xavier 4:21.60; 3. West (Dani Freeman, Kalee Schilling, Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Anna Murray) 4:26.05; 4. City 4:30.37.

400 -- 1. Audrey Ternus (CRP) 59.56; 2. Jill Stephenson (C) 1:02.66; 5. Kayla Brooks (W) 1:03.82; 6. Nicole Jensen (W) 1:03.97.

4x200 -- 1. City (Emily Sotelo, Tara Mills, Kelly Krei, Ashley Wilkinson) 1:47.96; 2. West (Chloe Hoagland, Tiffany Roth, Katie Kelley, Breanna Nelson) 1:48.29.

100 hurdles -- 1. Mariah Jordan (C) 15.56; 2. Brooke Ludvicek (W) 15.76; 3. Natalie Mason (W) 15.96.

800 -- 1. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 2:25.-0; 2. Rebecca Rethwisch (C) 2:28.51; 3. Ashley Fuller (C) 2:29.36.

200 -- 1. Hadiza Sa-Aadu (W) 26.88; 2. Qiong Qiu (W) 27.26; 6. Sarah Maynard (C) 28.76.

400 hurdles -- 1. Nicole Jensen (W) 1:09.86; 2. Emily Sotelo (C) 1:11.07; 3. Kelsey Coleman (C) 1:12.14; 4. Lizzy Lakihter (W) 1:13.28.

Sprint medley -- 1. Linn-Mar 1:54.61; 5. City 1:57.55.

1,500 -- 1. Meaghan Nelson (CRX) 5:03.15; 2. Anna Murry (W) 5:07.12; 3. Kristi Schuette (W) 5:09.76.

4x100 -- 1. West (Brooke Ludvicek, Mariah Hinton, Breanna Nelson, Jessica Gehrke) 51.04; 6. City 53.42.

4x400 -- 1. West (Elise Walz, Kalee Schilling, Whitney Schuette, Dani Freeman) 4:11.72; 3. City 4:14.85.

Discus -- 1. Taylor Freeman (W) 151-6 [new record]; 2. Majesty Tutson (C) 126-4; 3. Courtney Fritz (W) 122-11.

Long jump -- 1. Jessica Gehrke (W) 17-3; 4. Sami Hansen (W) 15-5; 6. Sarah Maynard (C) 15-2.

Shot put -- 1. Taylor Freeman (W) 43-5; 2. Micaela Haight (W) 40-6; 4. Majesty Tutson (C) 36-8; 6. Kayla Hyche (C) 30-9.

High jump -- 1. Laura Nierman (W) 5-3; 3. Virginia Johnson (C) 4-11; 5. Stephanie Brooks (C) 4-9.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Taking a closer look at Drake Relays results

Analyzing the high-school results at the Drake Relays and extrapolating team strengths from those results is not without its risks.

First of all, it's April. Three weeks remain until the state meet. Injuries can occur, and both the boys and girls must run the gauntlet of a district or regional meet to qualify.

Second, the Relays are four events short of what the state meet provides for both boys and girls. That's a lot of points unaccounted for.

Third, coaches have to mix and match in relays and individual events at state, while at Drake, generally speaking, you call on your best horses and let them go. Schools like Burlington heavily relied upon star sprinter Jarred Herring to score in four events. The Dowling girls rode the Flood sisters in four events. Those schools may not generate many more points at state than they did at Drake.

Fourth, the intermingling of schools from other classes can skew the results. For example, smaller schools dominated the boys' discus after West's Thomas Reynolds. After Reynolds, there are a lot of points at stake for other 4A schools.

With all that being said, it's still interesting to calculate "team champions" at the Relays and try to figure out if they can maintain that position in three weeks with four more events spread over three days.

For purposes of this exercise, points were awarded through eight places as they are at the state meet: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. In cases where three individuals from the same school placed in the top eight, the last individual was eliminated because at state, only two qualifiers per school are permitted. In the girls shuttle hurdle relay, the top four finishers were determined in a final. I calculated the next four places using times in the preliminaries.

Girls Teams

The upset here is that two-time defending champion West High was not the "winner." Waukee, with three victories and a second (which would be a first if small schools were eliminated), scored 55 points in our mythical team race.

Dowling, with three victories, was second with 53, followed by West High with 50. Both Waukee and West scored in eight different events, while Dowling won three and scored in four total events. Cedar Falls, led by sprinter Faith Burt, totaled 42 points in seven events, and Davenport North had 34, led by hurdler A.G. Bradford, in four events.

North Tama, with senior twins Brooke and Blaire Dinsdale, scored the highest among non-4A schools with 36 points. Logan-Magnolia had 24.

"What really matters to us are the 4A points," West High girls coach Mike Parker said. "It comes out to be 71 for Waukee and 70 for ourselves. That's how close it is.

"But as we said to (the team), we are a 19-event strong team, so missing some events that we plan to be very, very strong in, the 200, the 4x200 and some others, that gives us the vision that we want. And what we want is to feel like we are going to contend for a state title."

The events missing in girls' competition were the open 200 and 400 and the 4x200 and distance medley relays. Quick Stats shows that West, Waukee, Dowling and Cedar Falls all have more chances to score. Dowling is less likely to score in the sprints. But West, Waukee and Cedar Falls only have so many events in which they can employ their star sprinters. Whether they'll be available for these other individual events or be used in relays is a question.

"Waukee is very good, but Waukee got to that 71 points winning several things," Parker said. "What that means is they cannot improve on those point totals in those events.

"Dowling is a completely different situation than even us and Waukee. Dowling has to win just about every single thing that the Flood girls are in, and they have to get second in every single thing the other Flood girl is in. I've been to enough state championships that that is a very daunting task for anybody, even as great as the Floods are."

Parker points out that West got to 70 points with just one victory. The Women of Troy had some fourths that easily could be thirds and thirds that could improve to seconds.

All of which indicates that the girls state championship may not be as much of a slam dunk as some may have thought at the beginning of the season and could be a four-way scramble.

"I would definitely say that Waukee and Dowling, ourselves and Cedar Falls would be four schools that can truly say if all things go well, we can truly contend," Parker said. "None of us can contend if we can't get through (regionals) with things going well. If you were to drop the baton in something, that would be the end."


Saturday's Notes from Drake
 THE RIVALRY CONTINUES: Neither City High nor West High was in position to challenge Dowling or North Tama in the girls 4x800 relay, but the two schools staged a great battle for third.

West (Whitney Schuette, Elise Walz, Nichole Engelhardt, Kristi Schuette) rallied to third after the first three legs, and City (Emily Fagan, Hannah Kregel, Rebecca Rethwisch, Kelly Krei) was right behind.

"I just wanted to get a good handoff and get off the line," Kristi Schuette said.

She was able to stay just ahead of Krei for most of the race.

"I started off fast to kind of get my legs going," she said. "Going into the second lap, I just wanted to have a strong third 200. That was when the wind was blowing hard."

With about 200 left Krei, who is known for her kick in both the 400 and 800, reached Schuette's shoulder.

"I saw her shadow, and I knew it was her because her head was five feet above mine," Schuette said. "I knew she had a great kick, so I wanted to stay with her."

The two ran shoulder to shoulder down the final 100 with Krei edging Schuette by 0.12 seconds. City far out-paced its seed and improved its season-best time by 10 seconds. West was seeded fifth coming into the race but finished fourth and improved its time by nearly six seconds.

• RESPET: The 4x100 relays predictably went to the Cedar Falls girls and Burlington boys. The Tigers are anchored by Faith Burt, the odds-on favorite to be named the outstanding prep girls athlete of the meet. The Grayhounds are anchored by Jarred Herring, the two-time Drake 100 champ.

West High (Qiong Qiu, Breanna Nelson, Brooke Ludvicek, Jessica Gehrke) was third in 49.68, an improvement on its time coming into the meet and on its time in the preliminaries. Cedar Falls finished in 48.92.

"It was hard; it's hard to get third," Gehrke said. "(Burt) is a great competitor. I feel an extra edge to race against her. I'm always excited when I run against her to see how I compare. To see if I can improve my time."

MISC.: The West High girls 4x400 relay (Gehrke, Dani Freeman, Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Schuette) came into the meet with the best time in the state, but after the preliminaries, it was fourth. In the finals, the Women of Troy were fourth again in 4:00.69, their best time of the season.

However, they took little consolation in helping push Waukee to a Drake record in 3:53.65. The record was 28-years old.

"We have our own standards," Schuette said. "It's a decent time."

"We could have done better," Sa-Aadu said.

West will compete in the Mississippi Valley conference divisional meet Friday at City High.



Friday's High Lights

• GEHRKE THIRD: Southeast Webster's Jennifer Jorgensen won her third long jump title Friday with a leap of 18-3. Artianna Black-Scott of Waukee was second, nipping West High's Jessica Gehrke by a quarter of an inch. Gehrke's best jump was 17-9. She came in with the state's best jump of 18-9.

"I didn't scratch at all today," Gehrke said. "My footing was really on, it was just the reaching part. You know, when I take off and jump. It was just the reaching in the air."

Jorgensen also won the indoor state title this spring with a jump of 18-7 to Gehrke's 18-5.

MEDLEYS: West High (Qiong Qiu, Breanna Nelson, Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Kristi Schuette) finished 14th in 1:52.91. The Women of Troy qualified with a time of 1:52.57.

"It wasn't my best race," Schuette said. "Coach always says Drake and state have unbelievable highs and unbelievable lows, and you just have to stay steady and keep your momentum going."


Friday, April 25, 2008

Freeman wins third Drake discus title

DES MOINES — This championship was a little bit different for West High senior Taylor Freeman. It was a real struggle on a cold, windy morning, and the two-time defending Drake Relays discus champion was in danger of failing to qualify for the final three throws.

Freeman threw only 108 feet, 11 inches on her first throw and clanged the disc off the metal pole that holds up the netting around the ring on her second. Freeman smiled, embarrassed at the miscue, but she set about trying to do what she needed to do.

“I just tried to stay as calm as possible,” she said. “You try to just shake it off. You don’t want to get angry because it will just make you throw worse. And you don’t want to be scared because you won’t throw well either. So you try to relax and stay confident in yourself.”

Even Freeman admitted she was a little nervous to be in such an precarious position.

“I was releasing early, and I wasn’t turning my right foot enough,” Freeman said.

She threw129-10 on a fail-safe kind of throw to make sure she qualified. After that she took care of business and won her third championship in a row. Only four-time champ Abby Emsick has won as many as three discus titles.

Freeman’s winning throw was 139-6, well below her standards but plenty good enough to win by 16 feet.

“It’s not a horrible throw, but it’s not my best throw,” she said.

West High throws coach Brad Wymer tried to lend some perspective.

“She’s a great competitor, and she’s been struggling a little bit this spring,” he said. “Some of it has been that we haven’t been able to get the ring time. But she showed her competitive spirit, and she should be proud of her accomplishment in overcoming a foul and getting herself in position that she could win it.”

Freeman came in with the season’s best toss of 152-2, and her personal best of 158-4 places her fourth on the all-time Iowa list. But winning a third flag was special.

“I love it,” Freeman said. “You couldn’t ask for more.”

Freeman was third as a freshman, so her body of work in this event is second only to the great Emsick, the holder of Iowa’s all-time best throw. Yet this year was different as her last go around as a prep.

“It’s your last high school Drake Relays and your last chance to perform well,” she said. “It’s hard. I am, hopefully, going to be back here next year for college throwing because my coach said they would love to take me here.

“But it is different. You look at all the young ones and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s only a freshman. Boy is she going to be good.’”

But Freeman said she’s ready to move on to extend herself and her training and her goals.

“I’m ready to go, but it’ll be sad at the same time,” she said. “It’ll all hit me at the end of the year.”


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Freeman excels in track's 'ballet'


As a youngster, Taylor Freeman loved to play soccer. She'd run all over the field in pursuit of the ball, and then, well, she was easily distracted. Her father called her "the dandelion picker."

It's a scene that a lot of parents can relate to.

But somewhere in between her meandering, multi-sport beginnings and her final high school track season, she was transformed. She still has that open, warm personality that led her to embrace the social nature of adolescent sports, but she has combined it with an adult's vision and focus.

Freeman is quite simply the best girls discus thrower in the state. She holds the Drake Relays record in the event and is a two-time defending Drake champion. She won the state championship in 2006.

She has twice earned prep All-America status. Her personal-best throw of 158 feet, 4 inches is fourth on the Iowa all-time list, just 4 feet, 1 inch from the top. She accepted a scholarship to the University of Arizona after she was recruited by the top track programs in the nation.

Freeman was always involved in sports. Soccer, softball, volleyball and basketball were among her early pursuits.

"My dad actually made me go out for track in eighth grade," Freeman said. "I didn't want to at all. He wanted me to do as many sports as I could."

The father's suggestion has become the daughter's passion.

"It makes you feel good that you can do something well," Freeman said. "Then you start growing a passion, and you start working on it harder. You may have had some talent in the beginning, but it's all the work in the end that takes you where you want to be."

Softball and soccer went by the wayside as track took over.

West High track coach Mike Parker and throws coach Brad Wymer both identified a performance at an indoor meet during her sophomore season as the breakthrough event for Freeman.

"I think it was the commitment in between her freshman and sophomore year to realize, 'I can do this,' and she really took a giant step forward then," Parker said.

Through her work with Wymer and Ted Carpenter, who has worked with her since junior high, Freeman has come to understand the techniques involved in her sport. By this point in her career, she can diagnose problems as well as her coaches.

"You can tell, little things, like you know what you're doing wrong when you throw now because you've done it so many times and you know it by heart," Freeman said.

The dandelion picker had graduated.

"She strives to be technically perfect," Wymer said. "She's got the ability to stay at it and work hard and put the time in the ring and do the drill work and really try with every throw to focus on doing it right.

"That focus, in addition to what she does out of the ring and in the offseason and the hours she's put in her strength and speed development, that's enabled her to be great.

"I've coached an awful lot of kids in the last 14 years that didn't have that ability to focus. They don't reach the level that she's reached."

The 'second' event

Freeman continues to upgrade her shot-put throwing. She was third at the 2007 state meet in the shot, and heading into Drake she has the third-best throw in the state. Wymer isn't about to concede anything when it comes to the shot.

"She's so darn coachable, and does everything that you ask her to do and has a knack for doing what you ask her to do," Wymer said. "That's kind of a gift that some kids have and some don't. Within a couple of throws she can be doing what you've asked her to do."

The shot requires a different mindset. Freeman and Wymer compare the discus to a ballet move, a dance through the ring. In contrast, the shot is a burst of strength and emotion.

"I've been trying to make my throws more intense," Freeman said. "But I always have the thing of discus. I'm so relaxed and in the zone. It's kind of hard to transfer from discus to shot put.

"(Discus is) more of a dance than a chuck. I think it's more what your personality is. I'm more of a laid-back kind of person. I don't tend to get angry."

The terrific two

Freeman's high-school career has been linked with that of former teammate Danica Haight, who was to the shot put in Iowa what Freeman is to the discus. Haight and Freeman dominated the field events to such an extent that they were keys to West's two consecutive state track championships.

The two throwers trained together and pushed each other. Having the other at each practice was invaluable to each one's development. Parker said both had what elite athletes have to have.

"We had the huge benefit of having two girls with world-renown burning desire," Parker said.

While linked in time and talent, the two have always had different personalities. Haight never met a microphone or a camera she liked. Freeman is, if not gregarious, pretty darn close.

They exhibit their competitiveness differently. Their differing personalities may provide one explanation as to why each had a different specialty.

"Danica was stinking mad a lot of the time," Parker said, treasuring the memory. "No matter what she did, she was mad."

Freeman is no less competitive. It was a bittersweet moment to lose the state discus title last year to Haight. But she responded. Within a couple weeks, she earned All-America status at the Nike meet in North Carolina.

Now Haight is gone, off to Michigan on a scholarship, and it is Freeman who heads up West High's still-talented corps of throwers. It's not a big change for someone who always has taken her role as a team leader seriously.

"Her legacy will be more than her stats," Parker said.

"She's just a great, great young lady, and she will be successful at whatever she does because she's a good person and has that work ethic," Wymer said.

And that focus. She appreciates both heart and flowers.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

West girls' winning streak 1,063 days and counting

For the fourth year in a row, the West High girls track team went
West High's Jessica Gehrke, left, City High's Ashley Wilkinson, middle, and North Scott's Jenna Higgins battle in the 100-meter dash Friday at City High. home a winner from City High's Forwald/Coleman Relays. The Women of Troy won 10 events to swamp the field on a rainy Friday night.

"A lot of people had a great night," West High coach Mike Parker said. "It would be hard to pick out who our star was, but I think that's why we've gone 1,063 days and not lost a meet, is because we have a bunch of good girls."

Contributions came from all quarters -- the Schuette family for instance. Whitney Schuette won the 800 meters in a season-best time of 2:24.89 and anchored the winning distance medley relay (Chloe Hoagland, Qiong Qiu, Kalee Schilling and Schuette), which beat Pleasant Valley by five seconds.

"I knew there were some good runners in it, and I just wanted to get a good lead and have a controlled pace through the first 400," Schuette said. "Once I hit about the 600 mark you get going. I knew I had a pretty good lead there."

"Whitney is a girl a few months ago you wondered if she was even going to be a varsity girl for us," Parker said. "And now she leads off with a PR in the 4x8 and wins the open 8 in a prestigious meet like this."

Her big sister, Kristi, a senior, finished second in the open 400 and anchored West's second-place 4x400 relay.

"Kristi didn't win the two events she was in, but that gap is closing," Parker said. "She fought like crazy in the mile relay. She was running against potentially the best 400 runner in our state's history."

West sophomore Jessica Gehrke set a meet record with a long jump of 17 feet, 11 inches. She won the event by more than a foot. She later anchored the 4x100 relay to an easy victory.

Allison Fick won the 3,000 meters, ahead of teammate Nichole Engelhardt and City High's Emily Fagan. Fick took control with about three laps left and finished strong. Engelhardt had the better time coming in but couldn't match her teammate's kick.

"Nichole and I definitely wanted to go out and go 1-2 and start the meet off in a good position and give our team some points," Fick said.

Engelhardt later won the 1,500 with her season-best effort. Liza Minor won the 400 hurdles.

City High won five events, including one of its specialties, the sprint medley relay. But the Little Hawks (Emily Sparks, Nicole Burian, Kari Mueller and Kelsey Coleman) won the event without senior Kelly Krei, the state's best 400 runner. Coleman anchored City to the victory despite a near disaster with about 200 meters remaining.

"They cut me off, and I kind of had to stutter," she said. "I almost ran into the one girl."

Coleman raced in pursuit of West's anchor, Elise Walz, but didn't catch her until there were only 15 yards left to run.

"I had too much left at the end, so I went all out," Coleman said.

Ashley Wilkinson won a scintillating 100-meter dash in wire-to-wire fashion, holding off West High's Gehrke and North Scott's Jenna Higgins. Gerhrke turned the tables in the 200 besting City's Kelly Krei and Wilkinson. Gehrke led all the way. Krei continued to narrow the gap throughout the race but ran out of real estate.

City High nearly caught Pleasant Valley for the shuttle hurdle relay crown. Mariah Jordan came from out of nowhere in the final 50 meters and caught West High, but the Spartans' fine hurdler, Susan Rodriguez, barely held off Jordan by .02 seconds. The Little Hawks shaved a second off their season best with the effort.

"I couldn't tell if I had her or not," Jordan said. "All the girls on our team stepped up and ran their best times, and I just knew that I didn't want to disappoint them."

Jordan then upset Rodriguez in the 100 hurdles, getting out to a lead early and easily holding off the Spartan the rest of the way.

"I just tried to stay motivated knowing that I came in as kind of the underdog and had some girls ahead of me," Jordan said. "I was a little upset; I was out in lane five. I've been working on my start all season, just trying to get out of the blocks as fast as I can. I thought I got out pretty well, just trying to maintain my speed through the fourth and fifth hurdle. It's difficult finishing strong over the hurdles when I don't have that competition like right next to me."

Krei easily won the 400 meters, besting West's Kristi Schuette and Hadiza Sa-Aadu. Krei's time was 58.10. Krei later anchored the Little Hawks to victory in the 4x400 by catching Kristi Schuette in the final 50 meters.

"Everybody has just stayed focused on practice every day, working hard," Jordan said. "Everyone's put in work just to beat West. That's our main focus right now. All the girls are stepping up really well, not being intimidated by them, but knowing they are our biggest competition right now. There's so much potential."

Forwald/Coleman Relays

Team scores -- 1. West High 222; 2. City High 129; 3. Pleasant Valley 85; 4. Ames 71; 5. West Des Moines Valley 42; 6. North Scott 26; 7. Muscatine 19.

Individual results (top two and area placewinners):

Shot put -- 1. Danielle Frere (Mus) 44-11, 2. Micaela Haight (W) 44-2, 3. Taylor Freeman (W) 44-1, 4. Courtney Fritz (W) 37-1, 5. Majesty Tutson (C) 36-10.

Discus -- 1. Taylor Freeman (W) 130-11, 2. Courtney Fritz (W) 117-5, 3. Majesty Tutson (C) 113-11.

Long jump -- 1. Jessica Gehrke (W) 17-11*, 2. Emily Wandling (A) 16-8, 4. Sami Hansen (W) 15-11, 5. Ashley Whiting (C) 15-4, 6. Sarah Maynard (C) 14-11.

High jump -- 1. Laura Nierman (W) 5-1, 2. Abbey Adkins (A) 5-0, 3. Virginia Johnson (C) 4-10, 6T. Stephanie Brooks (C) 4-6.

3,000 -- 1. Allison Fick (W) 10:39.61, 2. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 10:43.65, 3. Emily Fagan (C) 10:54.03, 4. Lindsay McFarland (C) 11:32.18.

4x800 -- 1. Pleasant Valley (Kelsey Gantzer, Payton Strawser, Avery Malmgren, Anne Martin) 9:53.53, 2. Ames 9:55.11, 4. City High (Ashley Fuller, Amanda Rethwisch, Hannah Kregel, Danielle Hudachek) 10:16.15, 5. West High (Taylor Fehlberg, Bridget Novak, Elise Walz, Anna Murray) 10:18.95.

Shuttle hurdle relay -- 1. Pleasant Valley (Leah Hodgin, Katie McNamara, Leah Christensen, Susan Rodriguez) 1:06.41, 2. City High (Elaine Moen, Emily Sotelo, Abby Neu, Mariah Jordan) 1:06.43, 3. West High (Brooke Ludvicek, Nicole Jensen, Liza Minor, Natalie Mason) 1:06.75.

100 -- 1. Ashley Wilkinson (C) 12.60, 2. Jessica Gehrke (W) 12.72, 4. Breanna Nelson (W) 13.04, 6. Majesty Tutson (C) 13.65.

Distance medley relay -- 1. West High (Chloe Hoagland, Qiong Qiu, Kalee Schilling, Whitney Schuette) 4:21.46, 2. Pleasant Valley 4:26.79, 3. City High (Elaine Moen, Jill Stephenson, Kelsey Coleman, Rebecca Rethwisch) 4:40.03.

400 -- 1. Kelly Krei (C) 58.10, 2. Kristi Schuette (W) 59.81, 3. Hadiza Sa-Aadu (W) 1:00.76.

4x200 -- 1. Pleasant Valley (Kailey Bueker, Jenna McGinnis, Anna Sokolik, Kelsey Kraft) 1:48.19, 2. West High (Tiffany Roth, Dani Freeman, Sarah Hagen, Mariah Hinton) 1:48.98, 4. City High (Tara Mills, Sarah Maynard, Kari Mueller, Virginia Johnson) 1:51.52.

100 hurdles -- 1. Mariah Jordan (C) 14.83, 2. Susan Rodriguez (PV) 15.44, 3. Brooke Ludvicek (W) 15.89, 4. Natalie Mason (W) 16.19.

800 -- 1. Whitney Schuette (W) 2:24.89, 2. Ellen Hansen (A) 2:27.16, 3. Hannah Kregel (C) 2:28.01, 4. Allison Fick (W) 2:28.33.

200 -- 1. Jessica Gehrke (W) 25.81, 2. Kelly Krei (C) 26.21, 3. Ashley Wilkinson (C) 26.36, 5. Breanna Nelson (W) 27.10.

400 hurdles -- 1. Liza Minor (W) 1:09.12, 2. Nicole Jensen (W) 1:10.46, 5. Emily Sotelo (C) 1:11.02 Sprint medley -- 1. City High (Emily Sparks, Nicole Burian, Kari Mueller, Kelsey Coleman) 1:56.83, 2. West High (Qiong Qiu, Katie Kelley, Chloe Hoagland, Elise Walz) 1:57.28.

1,500 -- 1. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 4:54.85, 2. Laura Gehring (A) 4:58.93, 3. Anna Murray (W), 5. Emily Fagan (C) 5:11.15.

4x100 -- 1. West High (Qiong Qiu, Breanna Nelson, Brooke Ludvicek, Jessica Gehrke) 50.38, 2. North Scott 51.33, 5. City High (Emily Sparks, Mariah Jordan, Nicole Burian, Majesty Tutson) 52.79.

4x400 -- 1. City High (Tara Mills, Ashley Wilkinson, Jill Stephenson, Kelly Krei) 4:03.97, 2. West High (Dani Freeman, Kalee Schilling, Hadiza Sa-Aadu, Kristi Schuette) 4:04.47.

• meet record


Friday April 18th, 2008
Forwald/Coleman Relays Preview

The annual Forwald/ Coleman Relays tonight at City High have the usual stellar fields, but the favorites are from just across the river.

The West High boys and girls teams are not just the defending meet champions, but the defending state champions. Both teams have had successful seasons thus far, and neither shrinks from the favorites' role.

The West High boys may be even stronger than they were last year with enviable depth in all of the running events and a strong field event corps again led by thrower Thomas Reynolds and long jumper Aaron Martin.

"Our approach is to go out and make a strong team performance because there's going to be some pretty strong teams there," West boys coach Brian Martz said. "This would be more like our conference lineup because it's a team effort. At district, sometimes you have to wiggle things around to get things qualified that you need to get there for a three-day event. Conference is a one-day event, so we're pretty much going to be simulating what we're going to have to do at the conference meet."

Their strongest competition should come from City High and Pleasant Valley. City edged the Spartans at the Jesse Day Relays in Davenport last week. Pleasant Valley is the state cross country champion and is loaded with outstanding distance runners, led by cross country champ Devin Albaugh and Blake Irwin. West counters with Brady Fritz, Obsa Tadesse and Frank Canady, while City's Calvin Simmons also will challenge.

The relays should feature some great competition, as well, particularly the 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800. West High won the 4x800 at last year's state meet, but Pleasant Valley has the state's best time so far this season.

City's Kevin Dibbern and West's Alonzo Markham are among the sprinters to watch.

The Women of Troy have dominated competition this spring. They have not lost a meet since the 2005 state championship and appear just as strong as they were a year ago. The West girls have won three consecutive Forwald meets.

With Drake Relays qualifying over and conference meets two weeks away, West girls coach Mike Parker makes no bones about preparing for an all-out defense of the title.

"We give the Forwald Relays the respect it deserves. We're going to win the meet," he said. "I love the tradition and the atmosphere. I love the boy-girl meet when our boys are there. It's a goal for our seniors to be able to say we won the Forwald Relays all four years."

The girls field includes City, West, Ames and West Des Moines Valley, all the schools that have won the last 13 Class 4A state championships, along with Muscatine, Pleasant Valley and North Scott.

"Every meet they go to, they want to do something that sets this team (apart)," Parker said.


April 4th, 2008

Women of Troy Dominate Meet


The top two teams at last year's girls state track meet duplicated their places in the team scores at the Lancer Relays on Friday in Eldridge.

West High won with 178 points, while City High was second with 81.

The Women of Troy won seven events. Individual winners were Nichole Englehardt in the 3,000 meters, Hadiza Sa-Aadu in the 400 and Taylor Freeman in the discus. West also won the shuttle hurdle, distance medley, 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

The Little Hawks won three events. Emily Fagan won the 1,500, City won the 4x800 and sprint medley relays.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Off to a flying start

For a lot of athletes, the jump from being a freshman on a loaded state championship team to being expected to provide leadership and stability as a mere sophomore would be too much.

Jessica Gehrke has been in the limelight ever since she was 9 years old and won statewide championships in the 50- and 100-meter dashes, so maybe this season is not such a big transition for the West High sophomore.

Gehrke has dealt with the pressure of potential all of her young life, whether it was in swimming, gymnastics, basketball, track and field or volleyball.

"When I was growing up, I felt a little pressure," she said. "Whenever I'd go to anything -- I played sports since I was little, like 6 -- everyone's always expecting me to be good. I thought, 'Oh great, I have to show everybody.'

"I used to be like, 'Oh great, everyone's watching me. What am I going to do? I'm supposed to be good.' So I'm used to it. It helps me compete."

It's not too difficult to imagine such potential becoming a burden.

"She's always handled it well," said Michelle Gehrke, Jessica's mother. "She knows there's always going to be people better than her. It makes her work harder. There's (Cedar Falls senior) Faith Burt, who she's run against since she was 10 years old and who she's always trying to beat.

"That's one of her goals she's set for herself is to be as good as Faith. So she's got a lot of people she's looking up to."

There are other pitfalls.

"When you're full of natural talent, some people just don't have time to develop that into something good because everyone's expectation is that you can just pick everything up and do it well," West High coach Mike Parker said.

Last season Parker did his best to ease Gehrke into a team filled with experience, talent and high expectations. She knew she could help, but she also knew she didn't have to carry the load.

At the Drake Relays she led off the team's 4x100 relay, and senior Lisa Mellecker was the anchor. At the state meet, Mellecker was moved to a different event for strategic reasons, and it was Gehrke who was asked to anchor.

"She did a fabulous job," Parker said. "We got third place, and she was chasing down people. That was clear to me that she could handle that pressure. She did it like she'd been doing it for years under probably the most pressure of her entire athletic career."

Midway through last season she abandoned the high jump in favor of concentrating on the long jump. Gehrke capped her abridged season in the event by finishing second in Class 4A.

"It wasn't really a major change," she said. "I did it a little before just for fun. This year it's a little more serious for me. Long jump in a way is so much easier. I'm a lot more confident with it."

This season she runs sprints, anchors sprint relays and she shattered the West High school indoor record with a leap of 18 feet, 5 inches at the state indoor championships.

"She's consistently putting out the over-18 feet jumps, so it's not a fluke," Parker said. "She's capable of so much more. She still has a ton of technique learning to do."

Parker and assistant coach Peggy Steva are helping Gehrke develop the technique to go with outstanding speed down the runway and her quick explosion off the board.

"Because she is so athletic, she is able to overcome a lot of technique errors that most people can't," Parker said.

But he stressed that such talent will carry her only so far. She has been amenable to listening and learning and has to continue to do so to make the best use of her abilities.

"I've learned to love the long jump," Gehrke said. "Last year I just kind of ran and jumped without form. This year I've kind of gotten down the form."

This spring has been different in other areas.

"This year I'm expected to like help lead," she said. "Last year I followed the seniors, and they kind of took me under their wing and showed what I was supposed to do in my workouts."

Parker said that Gehrke's learning curve has been pretty normal. The first step as a freshman is understanding the commitment needed to work and prepare, even on a team accustomed to success.

"This year everything is better," he said. "She's working much, much harder. She understands it's great to be a member of the West High team and to do well. But she's told me straight up she wants to be the track-and-field athlete. She wants to be known across the country as a track-and-field athlete, and she's on her way."


March 2th, 2008

Indoor State Championships

• WEST HIGH: The Women of Troy won the 4x800 relay, took second in the 4x200 and 4x400 and took third in the 4x100 at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

Individually, Jessica Gehrke was second in the long jump with a school-record leap of 18-5, Taylor Freeman was second in the shot put (43-10), Allison Fick was eighth in the 3,000 (10:56.94), and Nichole Engelhardt was ninth in the 1,500 (5:04.99).

Area Place Winners:

60 -- 10. Jose Takes (Solon) 8.22; 15. Gretchen Geyer (IMS) 8.30.

200 -- 27. Mariah Hinton (West) 28.26; 59. Tiffany Roth (West) 29.26; 115. Kayla Fisher (S) 30.54; 154. Isabella Gaeta (CCA) 31.64; 160. Emma Yutzy (IMS) 31.83; 172. Katelynn Hume (Will) 32.12; 179. Vanessa Moore (S) 32.37; 182. Miranda Beckler (CCA) 32.63.

400 -- 15. Brittany Dlhy (WB) 1:02.77; 20. Gretchen Geyer, (IMS) 1:03.49; 21. Nichole Jensen (West) 1:03.49; 23. Liza Minor (West) 1:03.75; 110. Emily Meade (Will) 1:09.48; 131. Sami England (Will) 1:10.98; 149. Brie Winegar (S) 1:12.36; 151. Alex Kline (S) 1:12.84; 161. Shayna Schindler (CCA) 1:13.20; 162. Teressa Karkosh (CCA) 1:13.29.

800 -- 11. Brittany Dlhy (WB) 2:30.27; 24. Sam McAllister (CCA) 2:33.14; 44. Elise Walz (West) 2:38.07; 65. Whitney Schuette (West) 2:42.61; 66. Cassidy White (WB) 2:42.66; 86. Shelby Doehrmann (Will) 2:45.94; 120. Hannah Rundell (S) 2:52.93; 161. Alyssa Mougin (CCA) 3:09.82; 167. Maggie Randall (S) 3:19.22.

1,500 -- 9. Nichole Engelhardt (West) 5:04.99; 27. Anna Murray (West) 5:18.83; 29 Cassidy White (WB) 5:20.82; 30. Kelsey Hart (WB) 5:21.11; 39. Jaisa Miller (S) 5:29.70; 40. Morgan Gritsch (Will) 5:29.71; 117. Lana Miller (Will) 6:08.16.

3,000 -- 8. Allison Fick (West) 10:56.94; 19. Kelsey Hart (WB) 11:26.39; 29. Jaisa Miller (S) 11:43.95; 35. Jenna Broghamer (West) 12:00.77; 67. Amber Bruer (Will) 12:38.62; 69. Koehn Mattie (S) 12:40.14; 71. Jessica Stahl (Will) 12:48.98; 82. Allison Bontrager, (IMS) 13:07.47; 103. Quenisha Soukup (CCA) 15:41.28.

4x100 -- 3. West High (Qiu, Katie Kelly, Brooke Ludvicek, Jessica Gehrke) 51.62; 45. Clear Creek Amana 55.93; 65. Williamsburg 57.10.

4x200 -- 2. West High (Qiong Qiu, Kalee Schilling, Chloe Hoagland, Jessica Gehrke) 1:48.64; 46. Clear Creek Amana 1:56.33; 66. Williamsburg 1:58.38; 79. Solon 1:59.79.

4x400 -- 2. West High (Walz, Dani Freeman, Schilling, Christie Schuette) 4:08.32; 18. Williamsburg 4:23.14; 61. Solon 4:44.22; 76. Clear Creek Amana 5:00.18.

4x800 -- 1. West High (Whitney Schuette, Elise Walz, Kristi Schuette, Nichole Engelhardt) 9:52.96; 7. Williamsburg 10:10.29; 56. Solon 11:40.51; 63. Clear Creek Amana 11:53.26.

High jump -- 14. Mackenzie Westcott (Will) 5-0; 31. Laura Nierman (West) 4-10; 44. Emmery Bigbee (Will) 4-8; 55. Brie Winegar (S) 4-6; 55. Alexi Garrett (West) 4-6.

Long jump -- 2. Jessica Gehrke (West) 18-5; 6. Josie Takes (S) 17-; 23. Sami Hansen (West) 15-7; 50. Kaylee Van Scoyoc (S) 14-11; 69. Breanna Zimmerman (Will) 14-6; 95. Isabella Gaeta (CCA) 13-8; 101. Laura Prusha (CCA) 13-6.

Shot put -- 2. Taylor Freeman (West) 43-10; 7. Micaela Haight (West) 39-10; 9. Rachel Curry (Will) 37-8; 77. Rachel Snyder (Will) 30-4; 86. Shelby Novak (CCA) 29-10; 105. Jessica Anderson (CCA) 28-7; 127. Kearce Lindner (S) 26-5.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

West High girls track continues domination


The West High girls track team continued to tear the roof off another indoor competition site, winning eight events Monday at the Mississippi Valley Conference Indoor Meet in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

"The girls are committed," West coach Mike Parker said. "This was a great meet, as our conference is always tough competition."

Taylor Freeman tossed the second-best throw in UNI-Dome history in the shot put, heaving it 45 feet, 4 inches. Teammates Micaela Haight and Courtney Fritz finished second and third.

Sophomore Jessica Gehrke won the long jump with a leap of 16 feet, 7 inches, despite jumping off the wrong foot, and also anchored the winning 4x200 and 4x100 relay teams.

Nichole Engelhardt won the 1,500 and anchored the winning 4x800 relay. Laura Nierman won the high jump.



Tuesday, February 5, 2008

West's Freeman to be an Arizona Wildcat

West Schuette to be an Wisconsin Panther

By Susan Harman
Iowa City Press-Citizen

Senior Taylor Freeman, West High's record-setting discus thrower, will sign a letter of intent to continue her track and field career with the University of Arizona, according to West High coach Mike Parker. She will be joined Thursday in signing a Division I offer by senior middle distance runner Kristi Schuette, who will sign with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"She was recruited by everyone in the country," Parker said.

Parker said Freeman had in-home visits from some of the elite track programs in the nation, like Oregon, Tennessee and Georgia, but her final two were Kansas and Arizona.

"I think in the end she just felt the best on her recruit visit at Arizona," he said. "The state of Arizona has a lot to offer for a track and field athlete, the year-round training, and the Pac-10 is a great shot and disc conference."

Freeman holds the girls high school record in the discus at the Drake Relays with a throw of 151 feet, 1 inch. She has won two Drake Relays titles in the event.

Freeman also ranks fourth in Iowa history with her best throw of 158-4. She was the state 4A champion in 2006 and was third last year. She also was second in the shot put in 2007 and ranks 21st all-time with her best throw of 44-7.

She is a two-time high school All-American in the event and placed fifth last summer at the Nike National Outdoor meet. Parker said only a handful of athletes have earned three-time prep All-American honors, something Freeman has a chance to achieve.

Freeman is playing basketball this winter for the Women of Troy, something Parker enthusiastically encourages. He said she has continued to work on her strength, conditioning and flexibility.

"She has been as diligent as anybody at getting better," he said. "She's not satisfied with where she's at. She wants to be the best all time, and she's only four feet from being the best all time in the history of our state."

Schuette's decision came down to UWM and Northern Illinois. Parker said she received substantial offers from both but felt more comfortable in Milwaukee. Schuette is a top student and a gregarious personality.

"When she went on all of her campus visits, the coach would get right back to me and say, 'Wow, you weren't kidding. This is a girl I've got to have on my team,'" Parker said.

Schuette was sixth in the 400 meters last year and ran on West's 4x400 relay that has the eighth-best time in state history. Parker said that Schuette's work in cross country will enable her to move to the 800 meters this spring, a distance he sees in her future as a college runner.


 Iowa City West’s Freeman will sign with Arizona and Schuette will sign with Wisconsin-Milwaukee


 By Jeff Linder
 The Gazette
  Taylor Freeman had plenty of choices. She chose the University of Arizona.
  One of the best female shot and discus throwers in state history, Freeman will sign a national letter of intent Thursday to compete at Arizona.
  “Taylor was recruited by pretty much everybody, but she felt most comfortable with Arizona. The Pac-10 is a great shot and discus conference,” said Mike Parker, Freeman’s coach at Iowa City West.
  Freeman finished second in the discus and third in the shot put last season. She was a state discus champion in 2006, and her effort of 158 feet, 4 inches last season ranks No. 4 all-time in Iowa, Her career-best of 44-7 ranks 20th in the shot put.
  West’s Kristi Schuette, a middle-distance runner, will sign at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Schuette was sixth at state in the 400-meter dash and placed in two relays last season.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Flood washes out her competition

Dowling's 32 points beat second-place Urbandale by a whopping 78 points. City High was third with 119 and West High was fifth with 146.

"Last year we came here knowing we had a chance to win, and we had a letdown and lost by about 70 points," said Dowling's Katie Flood. "So we came back this year wanting to finish what we started. The team is everything."

Dowling's victory interrupted a 10-year Iowa City stranglehold on the title and was spearheaded by Flood, who won her second consecutive title. Flood won in a state record 13 minutes, 27 seconds, 33 seconds ahead of teammate Ashlie Decker.

"That's my fastest time by about 15 seconds," Flood said. "I ran hard and went as fast as I could."

She was so far out in front that a second pace car was inserted after Flood and in front of the rest of the runners so they knew where to go.

"I don't really think a second pace car was necessary; they weren't that far behind," Flood said, laughing.

City High was led by the triumvirate of Brittany Dlhy, Jessica Yagla and Kelsey Hart, who were 17th, 18th and 20th. All three finished in less than 15 minutes. Emily Fagan was 40th and freshman Rebecca Rethwisch was 55th.

"All three of us worked together," Yagla said. "We were together the whole time. We had to let (Flood) go. We ran against other girls, like Allison Fick of West High. We tried to stay with her."

"We knew it would be the fastest start," Dlhy said. "We had to tough it out or get caught in the back."

"We wanted to stay together for the first part and then just go," Hart said.

The Little Hawks were the defending champions but had dropped to fifth in the rankings after West High beat them in the conference meets and Urbandale beat them at the regional meet.

"We wanted to win, but if we all ran our best and we all put everything into it we're happy with it," Dlhy said.

"We always seem to be the underdog so this was a chance for us to show what we're made of," Hart said.

But City put together its best race of the season under the most difficult conditions.

"I'm real pleased with how the girls ran today," City High coach Tom Mittman said. "Dowling ran lights out. Urbandale really took it to us a week ago (in the regional). We came back and narrowed the gap in a much bigger field. I thought we competed as well as we have all season, and that's all you can ask.

"Rebecca Rethwisch, a freshman, really stepped up and caught a couple people in the last home stretch and if she hadn't we would have been fourth. Jess Yagla had the best race of her life. And Brittany and Kelsey had great races. Brittany really went out in style."

West High was led by Fick, who was 26th in 15:12. Nichole Engelhardt was 29th in 15:15, Anna Murray 36th in 15:22, Elise Walz 43rd in 15:30 and Kristi Schuette 49th in 15:35.

Walz was the only remaining veteran of West's 2004 state championship team and had a good performance in her final race.

"We were trying to treat it like any other 4K," Walz said, fighting back tears. "We wanted it so bad. We had confidence in each other that we would go out and do our best. We've trained hard. It just didn't work out for us."

West won the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet title and the Mississippi division championship and also won the regional. The Women of Troy lost only two meets all season.

"We just didn't run as well as we have all season," West coach Mike Parker said. "It was a great year; it just wasn't a great state meet. They came here with high expectations and we'll just have to get better. This is a great group of girls and a great group of parents."


Friday, October 19, 2007


BETTENDORF -- A wide-eyed, freaked-out deer broke through the crowd at Thursday's cross country meet at Crow Creek Park and nearly interrupted the start of the boys district meet. Turns out the West High team could have used the interloper to try to catch top-ranked Pleasant Valley.

But no matter. The third-ranked Trojans finished second to the Spartans and easily qualified for the state meet at Fort Dodge to be held Oct. 27. Tenth-ranked Bettendorf was the other qualifier.

"We were actually pretty happy about (the district field) because we wanted to go against PV one more time before state," Trojan sophomore Frank Canady said. "It's great; I love the challenge of it."

"It's a continuous battle throughout the season," West senior Brady Fritz said. "We tried a couple things to get in front of them. It's almost there but not quite. We've got another shot."

The second-ranked Women of Troy had no trouble at all beating the field, placing five runners among the top 12 finishers. Pleasant Valley and North Scott were the other two teams who qualified for the girls state meet. Davenport North's Kelsey Regan was the individual winner.

"The goal is to qualify, but we definitely come in here judging ourselves by our own standards and doing what we can do," West's Allison Fick said. "We try not to settle for just making it but making it our best performances and showing what we can do."

Pleasant Valley's boys placed first, second, fourth, ninth and 12th. Devin Albaugh, running with a stress fracture in one leg, was the winner with Charlie Paul second and Blake Irwin fourth. That's why the defending champion Spartans are ranked at the top.

But West challenged for the lead with Canady, Obsa Taddese and Fritz finishing third, fifth and sixth and hanging with the leaders nearly all the way.

"I was a little bit behind; I had to kind of play catch up," Canady said. "About the mile I was right with them. I wanted to keep Devin within contact, and I couldn't do that. But I was going down and up a hill, a big hill, and I got ahead of Obsa and Brady. I was that way until right about there (gesturing), and Obsa got me and Blake Irwin got me on a kick."

Fritz said that Canady likes to set the pace and be "in control."

"Sometimes it plays against him, but other times it works," Fritz said. "He has come up the last part of the season and is starting to be another threat up there."

Canady thinks the uphill parts of the course helped him because of his 5-foot-4 stature. He thinks it's easier for those little legs to negotiate the hills.

"It was really good; it was a good race," he said. "I just want to make sure I'm healthy and strong for state."

West's other finishers were Matt Moore in 17th, Max Alberhasky in 19th, Joel Dotseth 23rd and Tyler Chenhall 38th.

"Coming into the meet we knew we had a really good chance of moving on," Fritz said. "So our goal in the meet was to try to get the No. 1 team in the state. We weren't just trying to qualify. We wanted to try to get first. One more shot, and they better be watching because we're moving strong."

The Women of Troy were led by Fick's third-place finish. She was followed by Nichole Engelhardt in fifth, Anna Murray in sixth, Kristi Schuette in 10th, Elise Walz in 12th, Whitney Schuette in 14th and Jenna Broghammer 26th.

"We just had to our build momentum from the last race into this race and get better and better and get to where we want to be," Kristi Schuette said.

"This has been by far my best season. When you've got a team that needs someone, I mean we've had a lot of girls step up and fill those shoes, so it's not just one person. It's the other six girls and the others who push them in practice."

She was not alone. Fick, Engelhardt and Murray were challenging the Davenport North frontrunners.

"I think we all did really good," Engelhardt said. "We all gave our best effort."

Fick said she didn't notice the topography much while she was competing, but Schuette did.

"It was hilly," Schuette said. "Yeah, I got some burn. But because there is an uphill, that means there's a downhill on the other side."

Even with a week of rain and thunderheads in the area, the weather was actually dry and mild with just a little bit of wind.

"I thought we were going to be swimming this race instead of running it," Schuette cracked.

The West boys used their -inch spikes on the soft, hilly terrain.

"That helped us grip a lot," Canady said. "I've been doing a lot of training on soft surfaces, so it made no difference to me. It's hard to tell when you're racing."


Team scores -- 1. Pleasant Valley 28; 2. West High 50; 3. Bettendorf 84; 4. Burlington 133; 5. Muscatine 146; 6. Davenport Central 167; 7. Clinton 194; 8. North Scott 195; 9. Davenport West 210; 10. Davenport North 277.

Individual qualifiers -- 1. Devin Allbaugh (PV) 16:27; 2. Charlie Paul (PV) 16:35; 3. Obsa Teddese (W) 16:40; 4. Blake Irwin (PV) 16:43; 5. Frank Canady (W) 16:44; 6. Brady Fritz (W) 16:47; 7. J.T. McCarthy (Bur.) 16:50; 8. Marshall Moyer (Bur.) 17:09; 9. Austin O'Brien (PV) 17:11; 10. Neal Anderson (Bet.) 17:11.

West High -- 3. Taddese 16:40; 5. Canady 16:44, 6. Fritz 16:47; 17. Matt Moore 17:52; 19. Max Alberhasky 17:56; 23. Joel Dotseth; 38. Tyler Chenhall 18:46.


Team scores -- 1. West High 36; 2. Pleasant Valley 59; 3. North Scott 127; 4. Davenport North 142; 5. Davenport West 150; 6. Bettendorf 160; 7. Burlington 173; 8. Davenport Central 198; 9. Muscatine 203; 10. Clinton 207.

Individual qualifiers -- 1. Kelsey Regan (DN) 15:03; 2. A.G. Bradford (DN) 15:10; 3. Allison Fick (W) 15:19; 4. Anne Martin (PV) 15:26; 5. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 15:31; 6. Anna Murray (W) 15:35; 7. Alycia Thurston (DW) 15:40; 8. Maddie Moyer (Burl) 15:47; 9. Rebecca Wilder (DC) 15:50; 10. Kristi Schuette (W) 15:58.

West High -- 3. Fick 15:19; 5. Engelhardt 15:31; 6. Murray 15:35; 10. Schuette 15:58; 12. Elise Walz 16:03; 14. Whitney Schuette 16:16; 26. Jenna Broghamer 17:14.



Friday, October 12, 2007

West girls edge out City

CEDAR RAPIDS -- Eight short seconds was all it took.

That was the difference between a banner in the school gym and an empty void for the City High and West High girls cross country teams Thursday at Cedar Rapids Prairie.

Eight seconds was the gap between No. 6 runners Elise Walz of West and Rebecca Rethwisch of City as the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division Meet came down to a tie breaker between two teams.

Walz edged Rethwisch for 22nd place to break a 37-37 tiebreaker and give the conference title to the Women of Troy.

"This shows that cross country definitely is a team sport," West's Allison Fick said. "It definitely shows that we're a strong team, and we're going to fight to the very end to make this our year."

West's boys also won a conference title, scoring 40 points. The Little Hawks weren't shut out, however, as Brittany Dlhy and Calvin Simmons won individual titles.

But the girls team race was the highlight of the night. The two teams have faced each other four times this season, and Thursday's win gave second-ranked West a 3-1 series lead. This was by far the closest score.

"Everyone ran awesome," City's Kelsey Hart said. "Next time, we just have to push that much harder. We can beat them, we just have to have our best races at the same time."

Dlhy pulled away from Fick in the last three-quarters of a mile and won the individual title in a season-best time of 14 minutes, 40 seconds over 4 kilometers.

"We were running pretty close the whole time," Dlhy said. "It kept us both going pretty strong. We just pushed each other. Then with three-quarters left to go, I just pushed it in a little bit more, and thought I'd see if I could stay ahead."

Fick, Nichole Engelhardt and Anna Murray finished second, third and fourth for West. Kristi and Whitney Schuette were 10th and 18th, respectively.

Meanwhile, Hart and Jessica Yagla were sixth and seventh for third-ranked City. Cassidy White and Emily Fagan were 11th and 12th.

With the score tied, that left Walz and Rethwisch to battle it out. Though Walz was unaware of her critical role at the time.

"It was pretty spread out," she said. "I guess there was a City girl right behind me. I didn't know what was going on, I was just focusing on catching every girl I could."

City and West won't meet again until the state meet in two weeks, where top-ranked West Des Moines Dowling lurks.

"We start to taper, and we always go for peaking at state," Hart said. "We've done that every year since I've been on the team. It helps a lot. Our coaches know when to time that exactly right, and we know when to push ourselves. And hopefully, that will happen again."

West's fifth-ranked boys fought off No. 4 Cedar Falls for the conference title. The Tigers had beaten the Trojans just a week before, at the MVC Super Meet, but West won by eight points Thursday.

It was West's pack that made the difference. After Simmons won the 5-kilometer race for City in 15:45, West's Obsa Taddese, Frank Canady and Brady Fritz came in second, third and fourth, respectively. Joel Dotseth and Matt Moore were 15th and 16th.

"I think we had a really tight pack," Canady said. "We were really working together for the first two miles or so. It was a really good race.

"We're really happy about it. We've all been putting in a lot of work."

Taddese finished in 15:52, seven seconds behind Simmons after the two ran together through most of the race. Taddese won last week's MVC Super Meet.

"I kind of got tied up," he said. "I don't know if it was the cold or something. I guess it wasn't my day today. Sometimes that's just the way it is."

Simmons' finish was a personal record by 25 seconds, and he led the Little Hawks to third place with 63 points. He finished behind Taddese and Fritz at the MVC Super Meet.

"It's definitely a surprise to me," Simmons said of his breakthrough season. "I just give it everything I have, and, man, it's nice."

Encho Lamb and Ross Caslavka were 11th and 12th for City, Morgan Robertson was 17th, and Scott Mittman was 27th.

"We had a hard time last year," Lamb said. "We had to make it up, so we started to here."

MVC Mississippi Division


Team scores -- 1. West High 40; 2. Cedar Falls 48; 3. City High 63; 4. Linn-Mar 102; 5. Dubuque Wahlert 119; 6. Dubuque Hempstead 140; 7. Cedar Rapids Prairie 164.

First team all-conference -- 1. Calvin Simmons (C) 15:45; 2. Obsa Taddese (W) 15:52; 3. Frank Canady (W) 15:56; 4. Brady Fritz (W) 16:07; 5. Alex Mark (CF) 16:14; 6. Sam Read (LM) 16:17; 7. Drew Poland (CF) 16:18.

West High -- 2. Taddese 15:52; 3. Canady 15:56; 4. Fritz 16:07; 15. Joel Dotseth 16:44; 16. Matt Moore 16:45; 32. Max Alberhasky 17:21; 45. Phil Musson 18:04.

City High -- 1. Simmons 15:45; 11. Encho Lamb 16:29; 12. Ross Caslavka 16:32; 17. Morgan Robertson 16:45; 22. Scott Mittman 17:02; 27. Nikolai Qual 17:08; 47. Adam Sullivan 18:07.

Athlete of the Year -- Calvin Simmons (C).

Coach of the Year -- Troy Becker (CF).

All-academic -- Nicholas Stone (C), Morgan Robertson (C), Brady Fritz (W), Joel Dotseth (W).


Team scores -- 1. West High 37; 2. City High 37; 3. Cedar Falls 65; 4. Dubuque Wahlert 122; 5. Cedar Rapids Prairie 145; 6. Dubuque Hempstead 145; 7. Linn-Mar 172.

First team all-conference -- 1. Brittany Dlhy (C) 14:40; 2. Allison Fick (W) 14:53; 3. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 14:58; 4. Anna Murray (W) 15:02; 5. Katie Hemesath (DW) 15:08; 6. Kelsey Hart (C) 15:09; 7. Jessica Yagla (C) 15:10.

West High -- 2. Fick 14:52; 3. Engelhardt 14:58; 4. Murray 15:02; 10. Kristi Schuette 15:24; 18. Whitney Schuette 15:49; 22. Elise Walz 15:57; 28. Jenna Broghamer 16:27.

City High -- 1. Dlhy 14:40; 6. Hart 15:09; 7. Yagla 15:10; 11. Cassidy White 15:25; 12. Emily Fagan 15:31; 23. Rebecca Rethwisch 16:05; 24. Mercedes Harris 16:15.

Athlete of the Year -- Brittany Dlhy (C).

Coach of the Year -- Tom Mittman (C).

All-academic -- Libby Fuller (C), Claire Paulson (C), Kristi Schuette (W), Anna Murray (W).




Friday, October 5, 2007


West fired another shot across the bow in what is turning out to be a season-long seesaw battle with City High for girls cross country supremacy.

The Women of Troy nipped the Little Hawks by three points to take home the Mississippi Valley Conference Super meet cross country title Thursday at Tuma Soccer complex.

"West just competed a little bit better," City High coach Tom Mittman said. "Their fifth girl beat our fifth girl by a little bit, and that was the difference in the meet. That will probably be the difference next Thursday. The good news is that it's making both teams better because if they don't get better they're not going to have a chance against Dowling (at the state meet)."

West High's top three runners each finished ahead of their counterparts from City High as did fifth runner, Kristi Schuette. That was the difference, albeit a slim difference in the end.

West High also finished ahead of City High at the Cedar Rapids Invitational on Sept. 6, but City responded by beating West in their next head-to-head meet. This time it was West's turn again.

"They just don't have any fear," West High coach Mike Parker said. "We talked about it last night, stretching ourselves and getting out of our comfort zone. They have a passion for embracing challenge.

"City is a great team; to beat them is a great feat. We beat them by seven and then they beat us by four, and now we beat them by three. We'll do this two out of the next three meets. I don't see much separation."

West High's Allison Fick chased Xavier's defending class 3A state champion, Meaghan Nelson, all the way around the flat course before finishing second. Nelson won in 14 minutes, 56 seconds, while Fick finished in 15:24.

"We're always trying to run with who we've run with before, and trying to beat who's beaten us," Fick said. "We try to get better each time. It means something to keep up with a state champion. With about 800 to go she started to pull away. I tried to keep up with her as long as I could."

City High's Kelsey Hart was a close third as she thundered down the final 50 yards in a vain pursuit of Fick.

"I feel like I had a really good race, and I was just really pushing it at the end," Hart said. "My goal was to keep (West's) Nichole Engelhardt off of me. She was trying to get around me."

The flat course seemed to lend itself to a fast race, but the topography didn't really matter to Fick.

"We work on hills," she said. "We don't let anything distract us."

Parker cited Schuette's performance as a key.

"This is the first time our five has beaten their five," he said. "She's had three incredible meets in a row. This is a girl who was fifth in the state in the open 400, so we're really stretching her asking her to do well in the 4K."

City's Brittany Dlhy, who finished fifth, right behind Engelhardt, said the Little Hawks used the same race philosophy as usual. Don't go out too fast, pick off runners throughout and run a faster second half than the first half.

"And be competitive against everyone, especially West High," Hart added. "We're still improving. We just always try to peak at state, so we're still building up to that."

"We want to bridge that gap between our groups so we run as a pack more," Dlhy said.

The two teams will square off again next Thursday in the seven-team MVC Mississippi Divisional meet in Cedar Rapids. That is considered the conference championship, but this was a great test with a 13-team field.

But any time City and West put their spikes on it's a big meet.

Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet

Tuma Soccer Complex, Marion

Team scores -- 1. West High 40, 2. City High 43, 3. Cedar Falls 87, 4. C.R. Washington 131, 5. C.R. Xavier 140, 6. Dubuque Senior 165, 7. Dubuque Wahlert 169, 8. Dubuque Hempstead 188, 9. C.R. Kennedy 236, 10. Waterloo West 284, 11. Linn-Mar 295, 12. C.R. Jefferson 322, 13. C.R. Prairie 389.

TOP 5 -- 1. Meaghan Nelson, CRX, 14:56, 2. Allison Fick, West, 15:24, 3. Kelsey Hart, City, 15:25, 4. Nichole Engelhardt, West, 15:27, 5. Brittany Dlhy, City, 15:31.

WEST HIGH -- 2. Allison Fick 15:24, 4. Nichole Engelhardt 15:27, 6. Anna Murray 15:37, 12. Elise Walz 15:52, 16. Kristi Schuette 15:57, 34. Jenna Broghamer 16:34, 35. Whitney Schuette 16:36.

CITY HIGH -- 3. Kelsey Hart 15:25, 5. Brittany Dlhy 15:31, 8. Jessica Yagla 15:47, 9. Emily Fagan 15:48, 18. Rebecca Rethwisch 16:06, 19. Cassidy White 16:06, 21. Libby Randleman 16:11.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Women of Troy take Rim Rock title

Allison Fick took first place and led West High's second-ranked girls cross country to the team title at the Rim Rock Invitational on Saturday in Lawrence, Kan.

Fick won the 4-kilometer race in a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 21 seconds. Teammate Nichole Engelhardt was fourth in 15:42.

"It was a great meet for us," West coach Mike Parker said. "It's the first time we've ever won the individual title here, and it's on one of the most challenging courses in the country. And we put two girls in the top four. We've never done that before."

The Women of Troy won with 57 points, beating Branson, Mo., by 50 points.

Anna Murray was 11th for West, Elise Walz was 19th and Kristi Schuette was 28th.

Rim Rock Invitational

Team scores -- 1. West High 57; 2. Branson, Mo., 107; 3. Stillwell Blue Valley, Kan., 131; 4. Karney, Mo., 149; 5. Topeka, Kan., 246; 6. Clearwater, Okla., 266; 7. Op-Blue Valley West, Kan., 267; 8. Bishop Miege, Kan., 267; 9. Valley Center, Kan., 275; 10. Derby, Mo., 288; 11. Topeka Washburn, Kan., 301; 12. Wichita Southeast, Kan., 305; 13. Junction City, Mo., 347; 14. Platte County, Mo., 305; 15. Wichita Mount Carmel, Kan., 404; 16. Wichita East., Kan., 409; 17. Shawnee Mission North, Kan., 459; 18. Hayes, Kan., 459; 19. Dodge City, Mo., 483; 20. Lexington, Kan., 486; 21. Mill Valley, Kan., 530; 22. Goodard, Mo., 555; 23. Central, Mo., 565; 24. Leavenworth, Kan., 614; 25. Great Bend, Mo., 659; 26. Olathe, North, Kan., 687; 27. Ozark, Mo., 717; 28. Carthridge, Mo., 727.

Individual leaders -- 1. Allison Fick (W) 15:21; 2. Michelle Babb (Clearwater, Mo.) 15:30; 3. Elly Morris (Hutchinson, Kan.) 15:37; 4. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 15:42; 5. Erin Huddleston (Branson, Mo.) 15:45.

West High -- 1.Fick 15:21; 4. Engelhardt 15:42; 11. Anna Murray 16:13; 19. Elise Walz 16:24; 28. Kristi Schuette 16:42; 39. Jenna Broghamer 16:50; 72. Whitney Schuette 17:21.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fick runs career best to guide Women of Troy to win

Allison Fick has waited a long time to show off in front of the home crowd.

The West High junior missed her first two cross country seasons because of injuries. But she's back at full strength now and isn't about to look back.

Fick finished second and led the second-ranked Women of Troy to the team title with 33 points at the West High Invitational on Tuesday at the Ashton Cross Country Course.

"I'm real excited," she said. "After two years of waiting, I'm ready to get going and show people what I can do."

Fick and the other Women of Troy held back in the first half as Davenport North's Kelsey Regan pulled away to a 100-meter lead and more. But Fick kicked it in down the stretch and closed the gap to 10 seconds by the finish line. Fick finished in a career-best time of 14 minutes, 37 seconds over the 4-kilometer course.

It was her third consecutive personal-best finish, and a far cry from last season when she broke her leg at the finish line of the first meet of the season. She missed her freshman year with a stress fracture.

"For Allison, you think of what she went through, two years in a row getting injured," West coach Mike Parker said. "To come back and get through a full season would be plenty exciting enough. But she's taking advantage of her opportunity now."

Fick has managed to run without fear, which is a triumph in itself.

"The first couple weeks I was nervous," she said. "But then you get past those first couple meets and you know you're good for the season."

Parker has scaled back Fick's workouts in the hopes of avoiding another injury.

"She does a little less mileage, she doesn't do the morning runs that some of the other girls do," Parker said. "But it's benefiting her, and we're not going to change a thing."

The rest of the Women of Troy weren't far behind Fick. Nichole Engelhardt was fourth, Anna Murray was sixth, Elise Walz was 10th and Kristi Schuette was 11th.

Regina's girls didn't grab the attention of West, but they're happy to work behind the scenes. Ranked third in Class 1A, they're building for the future by running against 4A competition. They still finished fourth with 121 points, beating six larger schools.

The future might not be that far away for the Regals, who had three freshmen and a sophomore in their top five.

"It's surprising we have a freshman and sophomore and no upperclassmen to learn from, to lead us," sophomore Nicole Kleinmeyer said.

Kleinmeyer led the team with seventh place in 15:12. Freshmen Julie Hunter (13th), Anna Corkery (33rd) and Rachel Deutsch (36) joined senior Molly DePrenger (32nd) as the Regina leaders. DePrenger is a track veteran, but this is her first season of cross country.

"I always tell the freshmen, I have no expectations from them," Regina coach Chad Swope said. "They're still learning as they're running, and they're just kind of getting by on talent. And they're doing awesome."


Team scores -- 1. West High 33; 2. Marshalltown 52; 3. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 119; 4. Regina 121; 5. Bettendorf 141; 6. Pekin 169; 7. Mount Vernon-Lisbon 174; 8. Mount Pleasant 178; 9. Davenport North 208; 10. Muscatine 226.

Individual leaders -- 1. Kelsey Regan (DN) 14:27; 2. Allison Fick (W) 14:37; 3. Jill Lageschulte (Mar) 14:44; 4. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 14:56; 5. L.Martin (M) 15:06.

West High -- 2. Fick 14:37; 4. Engelhardt 14:56; 6. Anna Murray 15:10; 10. Elise Walz 15:34; 11. Kristi Schuette 15:40; 26. Jenna Broghamer 16:12; 35. Whitney Schuette 16:32.

Regina -- 7. Nicole Kleinmeyer 15:12; 13. Julia Hunter 15:42; 32. Molly DePrenger 16:30; 33. Anna Corkery 16:31; 36. Rachel Deutsch 16:35; 39. Samantha Osterhaus 16:47; 44. Kate Edeker 16:58.



Friday, September 7, 2007

West girls run down City

By Susan Harman
Iowa City Press-Citizen CEDAR RAPIDS -- At Thursday's Cedar Rapids Invitational, the West High girls and boys cross country teams picked up where their track teams left off last spring.

In only their second meet of the season, the third-ranked Trojan boys ran a strong second to defending state champion and top-ranked Pleasant Valley. The girls did them one better by upsetting defending champion and second-ranked City High to take home first place in the 19-team field.

It looked good for the Women of Troy when both Nichole Engelhardt and Allison Fick crossed the finish line before City High's first runner, Kelsey Hart. That trend continued with Anna Murray finishing 12th, Elise Walz 15th and Kristi Schuette 27th. The Women of Troy finished with 67 points to 74 for second-place City and 90 for third-place Ames.

"West High brought their 'A' game today," Hart said after the race. "We were aware of where they were. I'm not quite sure what the points are right now. They might have gotten us, but it's early in the season so I guess we'll just learn from this meet.

"We're definitely disappointed. They haven't beaten us in a while, but we're going to keep working our hardest, and we'll face them again in the future when we can take it back."

Davenport North's Kelsey Regan, who was second in the state meet a year ago as a sophomore, led the race from start to finish and won in 14 minutes, 54 seconds. But the Women of Troy did what they wanted to do in pacing themselves through the huge field.

"Our plan was just to do what we always do and go out how we run and try to pick people off," said Engelhardt, who matched the pace of teammate Fick. "We ran together for the whole race. We pushed each other through the race."

The meet was run under overcast skies with mid-70s temperatures and high humidity. It rained before the varsity races and just sprinkled briefly on the runners in the boys race. It was far different from the Prairie meet a week earlier run in 90-degree temperatures and stifling humidity.

"It was the perfect race to push yourself," Fick said. "I love it; it makes me work that much harder."

The plucky Fick broke her tibia last year in the Prairie meet, ending her season before it even began. This season she is making up for lost time, finishing second at the Prairie Invitational and following that with her seventh-place finish Thursday.

Hart was eighth, just behind Engelhardt and Fick. Emily Fagan was 13th, Jessica Yagla 14th, Cassidy White 19th and Rebecca Rethwisch 20th for the Little Hawks.

"I think I got out pretty good," Hart said. "I didn't get caught up behind the tree on the first curve. It's kind of a strategic thing. You have to make sure you get out fast enough so you don't get caught but not too fast or you die out."

The course winds around Noelridge Park and makes a hairpin turn around a tree shortly after the start of the race. That put a premium on getting out quickly. Hart said the Little Hawks didn't worry about Regan, either. They knew enough to let her go and concentrate on their team approach.




Team scores -- 1. West High 67; 2. City High 74; 3. Ames 90; 4. Pleasant Valley 105; 5. Cedar Rapids Washington 201; 6. Cedar Rapids Xavier 209; 7. Marion 209; 8. Dubuque Wahlert 231; 9. Davenport North 241; 10. Bettendorf 281; 11. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 290; 12. Linn-Mar 332; 13. Davenport West 342; 14. Davenport Central 359; 15. North Scott 364; 16. Cedar Rapids Jefferson 385; 17. Muscatine 412; 18. Clinton 466; 19. Cedar Rapids Prairie 540.

Individual leaders -- 1. Kelsey Regan (DN) 14:54; 2. Megan Nelson (CRX) 15:01; 3. Laura Gehring (A) 15:11; 4. Anne Martin (PV) 15:20; 5. A.J. Bradford (DN) 15:32.

West High -- 6. Nichole Engelhardt 15:33; 7. Allison Fick 15:38; 12. Anna Murray 16:03; 15. Elise Walz 16:10; 27. Kristi Schuette 16:25; 33. Jenna Broghamer 16:41; 71. Alissa Rossman 17:34.




Wednesday, August 29, 2007

West runners shine in year's first meet

West High's girls cross country team opened the season with a big win, and Brady Fritz won the boys individual title as the Trojan boys lost a tiebreaker for the team championship at the Prairie Invitational on Tuesday in Cedar Rapids.

The Women of Troy took five of the top 11 places and scored 33 points to win. Allison Fick, who broke her leg at the same race last year, led the team with second place in 16 minutes flat over 4 kilometers.

Cedar Falls finished second with 46 points.

"I was very, very pleased," West girls coach Mike Parker said. "This is a very new team, and Cedar Falls is one of the best teams in the state."

Fritz repeated as the boys champion, finishing the 5-kilometer race in 16:51. West scored 56 points to tie Class 3A No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier, but the Saints won on the tiebreaker.

"We tried to run very conservatively," West boys coach Brian Martz said. "The kids really worked hard over the second half of the race."


Team scores -- 1. West High 33; 2. Cedar Falls 46; 3. Cedar Rapids Washington 97; 4. Cedar Rapids Kennedy 128; 5. Marion 140; 6. Linn-Mar 167; 7. Cedar Rapids Xavier 179; 8. Anamosa 200; 9. Solon 212; 10. Cedar Rapids Prairie 219.

Individual leaders -- 1. Meaghan Nelson (CRX) 15:35; 2. Allison Fick (W) 16:00; 3. Nichole Engelhardt (W) 16:13; 4. Leah Blanchard (CF) 16:31; 5. Paige Hersom (CF) 16:32.

West High -- 2. Fick 16:00; 3. Engelhardt 16:13; 8. Elise Walz 16:52; 9. Anna Murray 16:56; 11. Jenna Broghamer 17:13; 21. Kristi Schuette 17:36; 30. Sara Stewart 18:12.