Rivals take center stage
DES MOINES — The Humboldt and Algona track teams have battled each other over various meets this spring across northcentral Iowa.
Now, the two will head to Drake Stadium to do the same on the biggest stage yet: the Class 3A state meet this week.
The Wildcats boast a dozen qualifiers, with the Bulldogs featuring nine. And after going race-for-race at districts, many of those same athletes will compete against one another once more.
Sammonte Bawden, a sophomore from Algona, is set to go up against both Humboldt’s Jamison Heinz and Denny Pederson in the 100 and 200 on Thursday.
Bawden, seeded fifth in the 100 with a time of 11.17 and ninth in the 200 in 22.53, clipped Heinz (11.31) last week in the 100 and was bested by Pederson (22.46) in the 200.
“I think Jamison and I have started a friendly rivalry that’s gonna go on for the rest of high school,” Bawden said of Heinz, who is also a 10th-grader. “No matter who wins, it’s all love at the end still.
“For Denny and myself, it’s a lot of the same, there is just a lot more trash talking between us. But we have a lot of respect for each other.”
Algona’s Trey Engen, who has experienced his fair share of battles with Humboldt distance runners in track and cross country, is qualified in the 3200 with the third-quickest time and 1600 with the fifth-best time. The junior is also part of the distance medley alongside Bawden, Skyler Groen and Austin Chase.
“I’m excited to run against such a great field of competitors and I’m looking to hopefully medal in all my events,” Engen said. “The Humboldt track squad is a great group of guys and it’s always fun to run against them since they are great competitors that like to have fun with it.”
Dominick Etherington, a future South Dakota State University athlete, sports the best shot put and discus throws from the season to date. Bulldog teammate Austin Chase is one of five runners to post 54-second times in the 400 hurdles.
Along with setting his sights on the 100 and 200, Heinz is also scheduled for the long jump with teammate Matt Miller. He recorded a 22-1.5 at districts, with Miller going 21-10.5.
“I think our team feels very fortunate to have qualified for the state meet in this many events, especially with as tough a district as we had,” said Heinz, who also golf during the spring for the Wildcats. “There were a lot of great jumpers, throws and runners. Personally, I would love to medal, but more importantly, I’d like to finish the year with strong showings in all my events.
“If I just focus on doing my best, then things will work out.”
Miller and Pederson will also run in the 400, with freshman Quinton Orr in the 3200 with the fifth-best district time.
Humboldt’s Bryce Gidel takes aim for state medals in the 1500 and 3000. The sophomore posted the eighth-best 1500 time at districts and the sixth-fastest 3000.
“I am hoping to run more relaxed after competing at Drake and state last year,” said Gidel, a state cross country veteran. “I try not to have too high of expectations for myself so I never walk off the track disappointed.
“I am hoping to just run, have fun and cheer on a lot of my teammates that will also be running.”
Webster City’s Haley Flaws qualified in the 100, 200 and high jump, with teammate Cassidy Nerland entered in the discus and shot put. Both are headed to Grand View University in the fall to continue their careers.