DES MOINES, Iowa — Larkin Chapman decided to take an optimistic outlook following the Class 4A 400-meter dash Thursday.

“What’s so bad about second place?” the Muscatine High School junior asked.

Chapman came into the 4A Iowa coed state track and field meet on Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines as the defending champion in the 400, but Linn-Mar’s Payton Wensel took a lead on Chapman coming around the last curve and she edged the Muskie runner on the back stretch. 

Wensel won in 55.96 seconds, with Chapman right behind in 56.87.

“I think today won’t hold me back because it’s 55 seconds of my life and it doesn’t matter about that,” Chapman said. “It just matters how I do the rest of my life.”

Muscatine placed in three events on Day 1 of the three-day state meet and sits in third place in the team standings with 17 points.

Among the placers Thursday, Emma Kent came the furthest despite not being sure where she fit into the high jump competition after qualifying with the 22nd-best effort of the 24 competitors.

Jump after jump, though, Kent slowly gained confidence and her disappointing last half of the season turned into one of her happiest moments.

Kent cleared a career-best 5 feet, 3 inches to finish third.

“I haven’t jumped very well for like the last month and a half,” Kent said. “I just really wanted to come out today and end my senior year with a bang because I don’t want to end it on a bad note.”

Even though Kent, a four-time state qualifier in the high jump, was the runner-up last season, she was still nervous going into her first jump.

She easily cleared the first two heights — 4-9 and 4-11 — on her first attempt, and needed just two jumps to clear 5-1.

“As I went on, I got a little more confident and a little more excited, so I feel like I jumped better later on,” Kent said.

Kent then cleared 5-3 in two jumps, besting her previous personal-best of 5-2, which she cleared at last season’s state meet and earlier this season.

Kent brushed the bar on her three attempts at 5-4, but she had already earned her third-place medal by that point.

“There was a wide range of possibilities and obviously I came in second to last and kind of made my way up,” Kent said. “I didn’t think [third was a possibility], not when the day started. But I am really happy with my results.”

The Muskies girls 4x800 meter relay team was disappointed with their results as they came in sixth place in 9 minutes, 31.33 seconds.

“It’s obviously not where we wanted to be,” Muscatine’s Regan France said. “It just happens. It just wasn’t enough today.”

It was still a season-best time for the Muskies by six seconds.

“I just think that we all went out there and even though we had high expectations, we still thought we had to go out there and do our thing,” Muscatine’s Danielle Roos said. “We all know we did our best and that’s what matters.”

Meanwhile, after finishing second in the 400, Chapman has new expectations for the 800-meter run on Saturday when she runs against Linn-Mar’s Stephanie Jenks.

“I think I am going to win the 800 on Saturday because I will not be beaten by two girls from Linn-Mar,” she said. “I think that’s all I have to say.”

The top Muskie boys finish came in the 4x800 relay on Thursday. Brady Eversmeyer, Eric Heckman, Garret Dolan and Alex Bautista combined to finish in 16th in 8:13.17.

"I think we did really good as a team today," Heckman said. "It’s a little warmer and I think that played into how we did today. I felt pretty well on my run and my teammates looked pretty good."

In other Muscatine action Thursday:

  • Alphonso Soko qualified for Saturday's 200-meter dash finals after finishing eighth in the prelims in 22.69. He finished 14th in the 100-meter dash prelims in 11.17, missing out on advancing to the final.
  • Muscatine's shuttle hurdle relay team of Isaac Schroeder, Drew Greenhaw, Isaiah Smith and David Summers finished 23rd in 1:04.47 and did not advance to Saturday's finals.
  • Schroeder finished 20th in the discus with a toss of 129-2.
  • Freshman Brittni Lloyd finished 20th in the 200-meter dash prelims in 26.88, missing out on Saturday's final.

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