2024 State Track

Pekin’s 4x400 team, made up of Audrey Fariss, Krysta Sheetz, Renae Eubanks and Chloe Glosser, finished their race in 4:19.75, a season's best, for a 21st place finish
Sean Strohmayer
The News-Review

DES MOINES—This past weekend, the State of Iowa held the 2024 State Track Meet in the Blue Oval. The Sigourney Savages brought two individuals in McKinley Chittick and Reagan Clarahan. 

Chittick was unable to hop over the first height, and ended her day tied for 22nd. Before her event, Chittick was asked about being able to come back to Des Moines for the State tournament, and responded with, “It feels amazing. Great weather and a great crowd. I am just so excited to get it done.”

One of the biggest recurring themes in the State Meet is communal support, and that was prevalent for Chittick. “My family is right over there, and I can see them from where I am jumping, so it’ll be good,” explained Chittick on finding familiar faces in the crowd.

When asked about what it means to see those faces in the crowd, Chittick replied, “It feels really good that they are here to support me, and I know they love me. They are just here for me.”

Reagan Clarahan ran her 400 meter hurdle race in a time of 1:14.05 for a finish in 24th. This is Clarahan’s third appearance in the Blue Oval for the State Track Meet. When asked about her experience the third time around, Clarahan elaborated with, “It’s nice because you are a little more relaxed. I didn’t run my best time up here, which was a little disappointing. It’s nice to have familiar faces from surrounding schools like Nat (Linder) of North Mahaska and Aaliyah (Cooper) of Tri-County. It gives you some comfort while you are here. It is definitely a fun experience, and the nerves have definitely gone down.”

There was no hesitation when asked about coming back, Clarahan will continue to strive to be back at the Blue Oval to be a four time state qualifier. 

“Most of the track team, my friends and my friends all came up. It is really nice to hear those familiar voices as you are running,” explained Clarahan on seeing the community support her at the Blue Oval.

A group of Tri-County students shined for the HLV/Tri-County team. The 4x400 and the sprint medley team were made up of Lily Randall, Aaliyah Cooper, Ayla Hall and Emery Hall, which are all Tri-County students. Randall, Cooper and Ayla Hall were all a part of the relay team last year for the Trojans. 

The sprint medley team finished their race in 4:24.06 for a ninth place finish, while the 4x400 team ended in 20th with a time of 4:19.25.

After the sprint medley race, the Tri-County athletes were asked about their experience in the Blue Oval. Ayla Hall first responded with, “It just feels awesome to be back up here.”

Lily Randall added on to Hall’s sentiment with, “Yeah, I agree with Ayla. We proved we can do it on our own without someone getting disqualified.”

Aaliyah Cooper responded with, “I think running up here was a great experience, and showing everyone that we can PR. Joining with HLV has brought us closer together.”

Emery Hall is the new addition to the relay team, and when asked about her experience, she responded with, “It feels great to be in this relay with these girls, and be able to run track with HLV.”

On top of the group events, Aaliyah Cooper secured eight place in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 1:08.11, while Emery Hall placed 18th in the 400 meter dash with a time of 1:02.74.

The English Valleys Bears were led by junior Gage Heyne, as he qualified for the 800, the 1600 and 3200 meter runs, as well as being the last leg of the sprint medley relay. Heyne placed fourth in the 800, sixth in the 1600 and fifth in the 3200. 

The sprint medley team, made up of Ben Coffman, Deshone Anderson, Myles Grove and Gage Heyne, secured 11th place with a time of 3:39.74. 

Kennedy Axmear wrapped up a prolific career in an English Valleys uniform with a fifth place finish in discus and seventh place finish in shot-put. 

When asked about encapsulating her time performing in an English Valleys uniform, Axmear responded with, “It’s been amazing. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being at a small school and having a big bond with my teammates. It’s just wonderful.”

“It’s so amazing, and I am so thankful they were there for me. They are really a big support system to me,” explained Axmear on what it meant to her to see all the familiar faces in the crowd cheering her on.

The Bears also had two freshmen perform: Ava Gehrking and Addison Achenbach.

Ava Gehrking qualified for the 100 and 200 meter dashes. She qualified for the finals in the 100 meter dash, and secured fifth place with a time of 13.03. In the 100 meter dash, she placed 13th with a time of 26.53.

When asked about performing on this stage at such a young age, Gehrking responded with, “It’s really exciting, but it is a little overwhelming with all the people here. I am happy that I have my team, my coaches and the people of my community cheering me on.”

Addison Achenbach ran her 3000 meter race in a time of 12:29.73 for a 22nd place finish. Achenback also qualified for the state cross country meet, marking two state appearances for the freshman. 

She spoke on compiling these accomplishments in her first year with, “It feels pretty good. I thought I had more preparation than I did. I do really bad in heat, so I knew I had to hydrate. Obviously, I didn’t do my best, but I am willing to come back next year and give it all I have.”

The Pekin Panthers sent a plethora of athletes up to Des Moines with Anna Hadley being the highlight of the tournament. Hadley started off her time in the Blue Oval by being crowned the Class 1A shot-put champion with a throw of 39-02. She followed it up the next day by holding the lead in the Class 1A discus event, until Iowa Valley’s Lydia Kreigle stole the crown on her final throw. Hadley finished in second place with a longest throw of 132-05.

Hadley spoke on becoming a shot-put champion a year after her discus championship with, “It feels surreal. I did not come in thinking I would win shot-put, so this was a pretty great surprise.”

Hadley hit the 39-02 on her second throw, that throw was the mark that won her the Class 1A State title. She spoke on what was running through her head after that throw with, “I was just so excited because I had not hit 39 in almost a month now, and seeing that I could get back to my full potential.”

Lastly, Hadley spoke on the support she received from all the friends and family in the crowd with, “Some people say that Pekin is going downhill quickly, but if you look at the community and how we support each other. It is going up in my opinion.”

Chloe Glosser wrapped her 3000 meter race in fifth place with a final time of 4:58.37. 

Brady McWhirter qualified for the 1500 and 1600 meter races. He placed 10th in the 1600 meter with a time of 4:31.19, while also securing 12th in the 3200 with a time of 10:00.99.

In the 400 meter hurdles, JaeDon Wolver placed ninth with a final time of 56.59. Wolver was also a part of the boys shuttle hurdle team that qualified for the shuttle hurdle relays. Wolver, joined by Robert Brown, Alijah Brock and Will Adam, placed seventh in the finals with a time of 1:02.86.

After qualifying for the finals, the Pekin boys shuttle hurdle team spoke about their experience. Freshman Alijah Brock stepped in for senior Kayse Miller, and spoke on his experience with, “It felt decent, could’ve been better. Have a lot to work on.”

Robert Brown spoke of his experience, “I felt pretty good. We lost Kasey Davis, he pulled something. Unfortunately he couldn't make it, so we brought a freshman with us. Almost hit a PR at state, and that is a great feeling.”

Senior JaeDon Wolver shared a similar sentiment with, “For my last time coming up here, I think we did good. These guys are going to do so well next year because they have so much talent coming back.”

“We all miss Kasey (Davis), no offense to Alijah (Brock). He was the heart and soul of this team, even when he found out he did something to his hamstring he was with us the whole way. He is probably the reason we did this. He was able to get Alijah to perform like this in two weeks. I think we did great here, almost hitting a PR. This season has been a blessing.” 

The boys also had the 4x400 team, which consisted of Will Adam, Nolan Glick, Brady McWhirter and JaeDon Wolver, qualify for the finals. In the finals, they earned fifth place with a time of 3:26.94.

The Pekin girls team qualified relay teams for four events: the sprint medley relay,the shuttle hurdles, the 4x400 and the 4x800.

The sprint medley team was made up of Lauren Conklin, Krysta Sheetz, Audrey Fariss and Chloe Glosser, and finished their race in 12th with a time of 4:24.51.

The shuttle hurdle team finished in 19th, and consisted of Reece Brisby, Paislee Coleman, Abby Guise and Kayse Miller. 

The 4x400 team, made up of Audrey Fariss, Krysta Sheetz, Renae Eubanks and Chloe Glosser, finished their race in 4:19.75, a season's best, for a 21st place finish. 

Lastly, the 4x800 team placed seventh with a time of 9:55, and was made up of Audrey Fariss, Alex Parsons, Krysta Sheetz and Chloe Glosser.




The News-Review

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