Dodgers, Gaels ready for district track

Looking to punch numerous tickets to Des Moines, the Fort Dodge boys and girls track teams will host a Class 4A state-qualifying meet here tonight.

Action begins at 4 p.m. inside Dodger Stadium.

Meanwhile, St. Edmond travels to Emmetsburg for a 2A meet with the same start time.

Rounding out the rest of the field in Fort Dodge are Ames, Ankeny, Mason City, Sioux City East, Sioux City North, Sioux City West and Waukee.

The top two finishers from each event in 4A move on, plus the next best 12 performances from qualifying meet placewinners across Iowa. State competition is set for May 16-18 at Drake Stadium.

Connor Hubbard (discus), Cray Washington (100 and 200), Riley Prescott (shot put), Keegan Jones (400 hurdles), the 4×100 (Keegan Myers, Austin Anderson, Jones and Washington), the 4×200 (Myers, Anderson, Jones and Washington) and the shuttle hurdle (Tyler Vaughn, Anderson, Adrean Johnson and Jones) highight the top events for the Dodger boys, who advanced four entries to Des Moines last spring. Hubbard claimed the discus title (153-05) at Monday’s CIC meet in Waukee, while Washington prevailed in the 200 with a new personal best clocking (22.25). Washington also settled for runner-up honors in the 100 (11.0).

“I told our kids the most events I’ve ever had qualify is 10, and I’d love to hit that number again,” FDSH head coach John McBride said. “It’s going to take a pretty good effort from our kids on the edge to get there.

“We need to remember that we’re running against everybody in the state and not just our district. You never know what might happen, so you have to finish every race and try to jump and throw the farthest.”

Washington owns 4A’s fourth best time in the 200 (22.25) and is seventh in the 100 (10.94). Hubbard is eighth in the discus (153-8), while Jones is 10th in the 400 hurdles (55.76). Washington, Hubbard and Jones all earned individual state bids last spring.

On the girls side, Fort Dodge will lean on Fatima Newsome (100), Tiana Mericle (100 and 200), Lexi Astor (200 and long jump), the 4×100 (Newsome, Alexis Lessmeier, Astor and Mericle) and the 4×200 (Newsome, Ashley Altman, Astor and Mericle). Mericle was a district runner-up in both the 100 and 200 a year ago.

“We’re just excited to run, and hopefully the weather holds up,” said FDSH head coach Todd Constable. “It’s nice to be able to compete at Dodger Stadium, which is a venue second to none. There’s a reason we have a reputation for hosting state events. Our athletic department does an awesome job.”

In 2A, the top two finishers in each event, along with the next eight performances from qualifying meet placewinners advance to Drake Stadium.

Joining the Gaels in the field are Clarion-Goldfield, Eagle Grove, Emmetsburg, Estherville-Lincoln Central, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn, North Union, Okoboji, Sheldon, Sioux Central and Western Christian.

Bill Kibby’s perennial power St. Edmond boys are seeking their ninth straight district championship. A year ago, the green and white sent 13 events to Des Moines en route to a runner-up state finish.

“There are so many close events, but there’s really very few that I think we’re going to get in for sure,” Kibby said. “I hope we have a good shot at (a district crown), but a lot all depends on firsts and seconds.”

At Monday’s North Central Conference meet in Clarion, SEHS managed another runner-up effort. Seth Reel (3200), Hank Lentsch (high jump) and the shuttle hurdle each delivered victories for the Gaels. Reel and Lentsch both took home silver from districts in 2012.

Lentsch boasts the fifth best 2A mark in the high jump (6-5) and is fourth in the 110-hurdles (15.06). Reel comes in seventh in the 1600 (4:35.92).

Leading the way for the St. Edmond girls are Hannah Lentsch (high jump) and Mary Eide (800 and 1500). Lentsch, who placed fourth at the Drake Relays last month, is a two-time defending state qualifier in the high jump, while Eide finished ninth in the 1500 at state a year ago.

Lentsch is tied for third in 2A and sixth in the state in the high jump (5-04).

“The weather really hurt us this year, but it looks like we’re progressing right now,” said SEHS head coach Donn Larson. “We just haven’t had the track time I wish we did, but hopefully we can come out and have a good night.”