DES MOINES - Weeks of hard work and preparation will now be put to the test for the Fort Dodge boys and girls track teams.
The Dodgers will be represented by a combined 10 entries at the 2013 Iowa Co-Ed State Track and Field Championships.
Class 4A action begins at 9 a.m. Thursday inside Drake Stadium.
Sophomore Cray Washington (100 and 200), seniors Connor Hubbard (discus) and Keegan Jones (400 hurdles), the 4x100 (freshman Keegan Myers, sophomore Austin Anderson, Jones and Washington), the 4x200 (Myers, Anderson, Jones and Washington) and the shuttle hurdle (senior Tyler Vaughn, Anderson, senior Adrean Johnson and Jones) will all compete for the FDSH boys.
Washington, a two-time individual state participant in the 200, placed third in the 200 (22.09) and fourth in the 100 (11.02) at Thursday's district meet in Fort Dodge. He also qualified individually in the 100 at last month's Drake Relays. Washington will run in heat 3 lane 5 in the 200 and heat 2 lane 3 in the 100.
"Cray's goal is to go down (to Des Moines) and get into the finals, which is a pretty realistic goal with where he's sitting," Dodger head coach John McBride said. "He's just getting stronger and stronger, especially in the 200."
Hubbard, who captured a district title with a toss of 152-4, enters with the ninth best 4A mark (153-8). Hubbard finished 13th in the discus here last spring.
"Hubbard obviously has a chance to place," said McBride. "He was pretty disappointed in how he did last year at state, and his goal has been to make up for that."
Jones settled for bronze at districts, clocking a 56.53. He checked in eighth in the 400 hurdles at state as a junior.
"Keegan is in a tough position in lane 8 of the second heat, but he's good enough to overcome that and still place," McBride said. "Our seniors have all been down (at state) before, and I think that will be a big benefit for them."
The Dodger 4x100 ranks 23rd (44.27) in 4A, while the 4x200 is 13th (1:31.15) and the shuttle hurdle is 22nd (1:02.35). Both the 4x100 and 4x200 took part in the Drake Relays earlier this year. Myers, Anderson, Jones and Washington were members of each of those quartets.
On the girls side, junior Tiana Mericle (100 and 200) and the 4x200 (senior Fatima Newsome, junior Ashley Altman, junior Lexi Astor and Mericle) will comprise Fort Dodge's lineup.
Mericle took home district gold in the 200 (26.11) and was fourth (12.67) in the 100. She is making her second consecutive state trip in both events.
"Tiana ran an awesome time in the 200 at districts after she really hadn't ran that event all year," said FDSH head coach Todd Constable. "I'm looking for her to be in the finals."
In the 4x200, the Dodgers advanced with a runner-up (1:47.87) district effort.
"We're sitting in the top eight in the 4x2, so we're expecting to hopefully medal," Constable said. "If our handoffs are clean, we could hit a low 147 or 146. I think our kids will have a great chance to medal."