Prep track and field: Panther girls claim soggy SEISC north title

May 9—WAYLAND — If it's May, it must be time for the Pekin girls track and field team to truly shine.

It just might have been a little tough to see last Thursday when the Panthers battled more than just a talented field of athletes in quest of their fourth straight Southeast Iowa Superconference north division title. Athletes from schools in both the SEISC's north and south division also had to deal with the elements as consistent and, briefly, heavy rain fell throughout most of the night at Steve Roth Track.

Pekin did not melt. In fact, in some cases, the Panthers thrived as the Pekin girls pulled away scored a meet-best 165 points to put plenty of distance between themselves and SEISC north runner-up Louisa-Muscatine's 97-point total in the final meet before competing in Sigourney for Class 1A state track and field berths.

"We had a lot of young kids that really stepped up for us," Pekin head track and field coach Davis Eidahl said. "The kids came ready to go. They've worked hard and focused in to do what they're supposed to do. I thought we'd be battling it out to the end, but we had enough to spread out and score points in several events."

Chloe Glosser spent the most time on the track, completing the 'iron woman' challenge by running the three longest individual races of the night while also competing in the 800-meter anchor leg of the distance medley relay and the anchor leg of the 4x800 relay. Glosser took on the challenges of running over four miles successfully winning four SEISC championships taking the 800-meter title in 2:30.56, the 1,500 meters in 5:10.99 and the 3,000 meters in 11:03.36 before completing the winning distance medley relay run for the Panthers in 4:30.11 and the win in the 4x800 in 10:29.81.

"That was really good for conditioning, because this is only the third time I've ever run the 3,000," Glosser said. "I'm definitely tired, but it's all for what's coming up."

Glosser not only won the SEISC north titles in all four races, but helped Pekin produce the best times in all four races among all SEISC teams. The Panther sophomore not only embraced the challenge of running a maximum number of miles during the meet, but embraced running in deteriorating weather conditions.

"I actually kind of like running in the rain," Glosser said. "It was kind of refreshing. When you're out there running the heat, it can kind of sap your energy. I think the rain helped me be able to get through all the races."

Anna Hadley did her part in the field to put Pekin in position to claim the SEISC north title. The reigning 1A state champion in the discus broke a 23-year-old conference-meet record in the event with a throw of 133 feet and six inches, over 30 feet further than runner-up Morgan Steher of Louisa-Muscatine, after winning the girls shot put with a throw of 35 feet and 2.25 inches.

"I just need to keep breaking down the circle and making foot forward better than it's ever been so I can throw it further," Hadley said. "Throwing 130 feet in the discus in the rain I feel gives me hope of reaching 140 feet under the right conditions."

The Pekin boys finished second in the SEISC north standings, finishing with 140 points. Columbus Junction, who will be competing against the Panthers in the 1A state qualifying meet at Sigourney, won the division title with 186 points including 1-2 finishes from Kaden Amigon and Riley Kaalberg in the 100 and 200-meter dashes.

The Panthers, meanwhile, scored a 1-2 finish of their own in the 1,600-meter run as Brady McWhirter crossed the finish line in 4:43.17, just under 15 seconds ahead of Cole Millikin, after winning the 3,200 meters earlier in the night in 9:55.65. Pekin also picked up relay wins in the 4x200 in 1:35.97, the 4x800 in 9:06.1, the shuttle hurdle in 1:04.66 and the closing 4x400 relay in 3:32 as JaeDon Wolver held off Logan Rosas over the final 100 meters as Mediapolis settled for second overall in the two-mile relay in the SEISC, winning the south division title in 3:32.47.

"I could hear the Mepo kids yelling towards me, so I knew there had to be someone right behind me," Wolver said. "I knew I had to turn it on if I was going to hold on. I knew that (Rosas) was trying to pass me. I couldn't see him so I didn't really know how close he was, but I could hear the footsteps behind me. That filled me with a lot of adrenaline."

Mediapolis swept the SEISC south track and field team titles with the Bulldog boys racking up 190 points in the meet, more than doubling up the field. The Van Buren County boys finished second with 94 points, earning titles in the field including a winning south division throw of 115-5 by Cameron Stoltz in the discus and a winning high jump of six feet by four-time state high jump qualifier Tyler Stoltz.

"I'd love to get into state with a relay this year. I've been to state three times and never once been able to run on the blue oval," Stoltz said. "It takes a lot to stick with something for four years, but I truly love the high jump. I finally medaled last year tying for seventh. I'd love to finish in the top five. It's just going to be a matter of inches to get there. If the conditions are good, I could hopefully get 6-5 to set a personal record and finish high in the state."

The Van Buren County girls finished fourth overall in the SEISC south division standings with 94.5 points. Kayley Snowgren secured a win in the 800-meter run for the Warriors in 2:34.3 and a win in the 100-meter hurdles in 18.84 seconds by Marlee Mertens.

"I ran one of my best times in the 100 meter hurdles, which I wasn't expecting," Mertens said. "With all the rain, it was pretty slippery out there. You also had rain going right in your eyes as you're running. I just tried not to slip or fall over a hurdle."

The Warrior girls also picked up a pair of south division relay wins. Snowgren joined Ava Loeffler, Daphny Wells and Emma Coffin to secure the distance medley in 4:42.51 while Mertens, Wells, Lexie Wiley and Libby Bainbridge claimed the shuttle hurdle title in 1:19.32.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.