TIPTON, Iowa — It was a family affair for the Wapello High School girls track and field team on Thursday at a Class 2A state-qualifying meet.
When Aryka Parsons crossed the line first in 1 minute, 1.62 seconds in the 400-meter dash, it wasn't much of a surprise. She entered the meet at Tipton High School with the top time in the event.
It was a bit of a surprise with who finished in second, though, as Aryka's cousin, Tiffany Parsons, edged West Liberty’s Tatum Koenig for the second state-qualifying spot in 1:02.75.
“Parsons and Parsons, one and two,” Aryka said.
The Parsons cousins teamed up later in the meet in the sprint medley relay when Tiffany Parsons ran the third leg and Aryka Parsons was the anchor of the Arrows' winning team. Karlee Carey and Alexis Talbott ran the first two legs of a race they finished in 1:56.99.
Area competitors from Columbus Community, Durant, Louisa-Muscatine, Wilton and aforementioned Wapello qualified automatically to next week's state meet in Des Moines in 11 events Thursday evening.
The Columbus and Louisa-Muscatine girls sent qualifiers in two different events, just like the Arrows, who were paced by the Parsons cousins.
Now Aryka, a senior, will get to run with her freshman cousin in two events at state.
“She’s like a sister, sisterly love,” Aryka said. “I really wanted that for her and really the hard work is paying off.”
Iowa City Regina won the girls team title on Thursday night with 109 points, while West Burlington/Notre Dame scored 171 points to win the boys title.
Even though she hasn’t ran the 400 in a month, Aryka still finished with a season-best time. Tiffany, too, put up her best time of the season despite being seeded seventh coming into the race.
“I just gave it everything I got and tried my best,” Tiffany said. “I just didn’t focus on anything but the way I am running and I got it I guess.”
The Arrows finished ahead of Tipton in the sprint medley relay with a time of 1:56.99.
“That’s awesome and our team did great,” Aryka said. “We definitely did better than we normally do.”
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Louisa-Muscatine’s Lani Hillard was the top seed in the 100-meter dash on Thursday, but she failed to automatically qualify for the state meet after finishing in third place.
She blocked out the disappointment from the 100 and won the 200-meter dash in 27.13 seconds.
“It was disappointing, but I did my best and that’s all I can do,” Hillard said. “The 200 makes me feel a lot better because I was really upset after that 100. I am just excited I get to go to the blue track again.”
In the shot put, Durant’s Brinn Grunder returns to state after winning a district title with a throw of 39 feet, 10.25 inches despite steady rain. L-M’s Lauren Hargrave was the runner-up with a throw of 34-1.75.
“It was all right,” Grunder said. “I wanted to get 40 [feet] or my personal best. I am back at state, that’s what matters.”
Wilton’s Grace Austin qualified for state by winning the high jump with a leap of 4 feet, 10 inches.
“I was really pleased with it,” Austin said. “We’ve high jumped quite a bit in the rain in practice and I feel that has helped a lot.”
The Columbus girls were second in the shuttle hurdle relay in 1:13.44, while Wildcats long jumper Shania Boyd finished second with a leap of 15-7.
“I just knew that I had to give it my all and with the weather, keep mentally tough,” Boyd said. “I only had one pretty good jump, but it only takes one.”
On the boys side, AJ Ponce, Tariq Green and Brandon Chenoweth put Logan Belzer in good position in the anchor leg of Wapello's 4x800 relay. In the final 200 meters, Belzer passed West Branch’s Mason Hays and stayed ahead of him as the Indians won in 8:23.22.
“We knew the teams were right on us so we knew we had to run our hardest and we did,” Belzer said. “We are coming along. I don’t feel we have reached our full potential, but we are getting close.”
In the boys discus, Durant’s Levi Novinski said he wasn't "overly impressed" with his runner-up throw of 155-10, while Columbus' Mauricio Ramirez finished second in the long jump with a distance of 21-3.75.
“I expected to get third because there were two jumpers consistent in hitting 22 feet and I hadn’t hit that milestone,” Ramirez said. “But I was really glad with the outcome. Just whoever is mentally tougher.”