ELDRIDGE, Iowa — Isaac Schroeder didn’t want there to be any doubt.
Like many of the Muscatine High School boys and girls track and field team members that automatically qualified for state on Thursday, Schroeder wanted a top-two spot in the 110-meter high hurdles event by any means necessary.
He powered through an inconsistent finish to his race, hitting the last few hurdles but not slowing down as he joined a Muskie boys and girls group that automatically qualified for 12 different events at the state track and field meet following a Class 4A state-qualifying meet at North Scott High School.
The Muskie boys were 2nd in the team race with 117 points behind district champion Pleasant Valley with 164 points. The Muscatine girls, led by Larkin Chapman and Brina Kraft automatically qualifying in three events each, scored 100 points to finish third behind champion PV with 197 points.
The boys and girls state track and field meet will be held over three days, starting next Thursday, at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Schroeder was second in the 110 hurdles in a time of 15.20 seconds. He’ll also run with the shuttle hurdle relay team, along with David Summers, Isaiah Smith and Dakota Petersen, that won the event on Thursday in 59.07.
The downed hurdles didn’t hurt Schroeder’s pride.
“You’ve just got to make it to the end,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if it’s pretty or not. I wanted one of those top two spots.”
Muscatine boys track and field coach Chris Foxen added, “Even bulldozers can be fast.”
Though the weather wasn’t picturesque, the Muskies made it look easy at times, setting multiple personal bests in events during a steady rainfall that fell throughout the meet.
The boys 4x800 relay team wowed early in the meet, as Eric Heckman, Garrett Dolan, Alex Bautista and Brady Eversmeyer shaved 19 seconds off their previous best time to finish second in 8 minutes, 10.83 seconds. PV won the event in 8:05.31.
“The distance squad has stepped up, and we felt we had to get better,” Eversmeyer said. “That 19-second drop says a lot about how far we’ve come.”
In a close finish, the distance medley relay team of Alphonso Soko, Summers, Heckman and Eversmeyer held off a surging Bettendorf to take second in 3:37.79.
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“I went to work on that back stretch and made [Bettendorf anchor Brandon Cooley] work hard so he couldn’t use his 100-meter speed,” Eversmeyer said.
Soko also qualified for state in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, while Petersen qualified as an individual in the 400 hurdles.
All in weather better suited for Slip ‘n’ Slide, not track and field. Though that didn’t surprise Foxen.
“Our guys wanted to overcome that challenge,” Foxen said. “We’re like a spear cutting through the wind.”
Muscatine girls coach Josh Falk, too, was pleased to note that his team had met nearly every goal they set for themselves heading into Thursday.
Chapman will run in the 400- and 800-meter dashes at state after winning both events in 57.08 and 2:22.67, respectively. She’ll join Kraft as part of the 4x800 relay team along with Danielle Roos and Regan France, who won the relay event in 9:37.51.
France was an automatic qualifier with a second-place finish in the 800 right behind Chapman, and Brittni Lloyd, Allison Olswold, Emilee Meyer and Kraft qualified automatically in the distance medley relay, placing second in 4:20.25.
Chapman and France finishing first and second in the 800 was a particular point of pride.
“I’m so proud of Regan,” Chapman said. “She really wanted this and it shows that our team is getting a lot more depth and that’s really a good sign.”
The Muskie girls may have at-large qualifiers in other events, including the 4x100 relay where Meyer, Olswold, Lloyd and Chapman finished third in 51.59.
No matter how many events end up qualifying, Kraft said the Muskies are hoping to put on a good show in Des Moines after failing to meet their goals at Drake.
“We all are kinda looking for redemption,” Kraft said. “We really pushed ourselves after [the Drake Relays] because we know we’d have to if we want to get where we want.”