(KMAland) -- It’s a Saturday, but we are about to hit a tipping point where everybody is running, jumping and throwing. And then nothing will slow down, and these so-called previews will need to be reviews.
Today, we are glancing at the boys in the Western Iowa Conference.
PREVIOUS SPRING SPORTS PREVIEWS
WESTERN IOWA CONFERENCE BOYS TRACK & FIELD PREVIEW
The last time we saw the Western Iowa Conference in action, Treynor won eight events to capture the conference championship. The Cardinals put up 185 points in a pretty dominant performance to finish ahead of Underwood’s 143. IKM-Manning, Audubon and Missouri Valley rounded out the top five.
That was then. This is now. Let’s take a look…
RETURNING STATE MEDALISTS
There are four returning athletes that have combined for nine medals in their career. They are…
-Tre Melby, Senior, Logan-Magnolia (1): Melby finished his sophomore season with a state runner-up in the discus.
-Sid Schaaf, Senior, Treynor (1): Schaaf was one member of a shuttle hurdle relay team that finished second in the state and was primed for a run at a state title in 2020.
-Scott Pearson, Junior, Underwood (2): The only junior in the WIC with a medal to his name, Pearson ran for the state runner-up in the 4x800 and the third-place 4x400 in 2019.
-Brayden Wollan, Senior, Underwood (5): This is the active leader in medals among KMAland boys track athletes. Wollan has a second (4x8), a third (4x4), two sixths (400 and 4x4) and an eighth (distance medley).
OTHER INDIVIDUAL STATE QUALIFIERS
Along with Melby and Wollan picking up medals in individual events, these five others were qualifiers in individual events in the 2019 meet.
-Quentin Dreyer, Senior, IKM-Manning: Dreyer qualified for state in both the 1600 and the 3200 meter run at the end of his sophomore season.
-Chris Gardner, Senior, Underwood: Gardner was a two-time qualifier of his own in the discus and the shot put.
-Noah James, Senior, Treynor: The high-flying James was a qualifier in the high jump as a sophomore, and he was really coming into his own late in the season. He’s primed for a big, big year.
-Brett McGee, Senior, Tri-Center: McGee was a two-time individual qualifier in his sophomore season, finishing at the Blue Oval in the 1600 and the 3200.
-Sid Schaaf, Senior, Treynor: Schaaf was also active in individual events, qualifying for the open 400 and the 400 hurdles in his sophomore season.
Let’s hit each of the individual events and see who is coming back.
100: Wollan would be the highest finisher from the WIC meet, as he placed third behind Drake Partridge and Valentin Andrusyshyn. He would be the only returnee among the top eight. However, it’s worth noting that IKM-Manning junior Amos Rasmussen had the fastest time during the crouse of the 2019 season. He’s dealt with injury issues, but we know for sure that Rasmussen is among the fastest in the state when he’s right.
200: Wollan was the runner-up behind Partridge (a state champ) here, and this is one of the many options for him. The next-highest returning finisher is Treynor senior Braden Larsen, who ended up sixth in the race. AHSTW junior JJ Madsen came in seventh and Treynor’s Schaaf was eighth.
400: The top three finishers from ’19 are all back in Wollan, Schaaf and Pearson. Thats a pretty loaded quarter, huh? Larsen came in fifth, and IKM-Manning’s Connor Keller was the seventh-place runner.
800: The top four are all gone, but Tri-Center’s McGee would be back. He ran fifth in the race in 2019, and that is the only potential returnee among the top eight. Pearson also had a top six time during the season.
1600: McGee is also the top finisher returning to the field this year, as he ran third in the race two years ago. Dreyer was right behind him in fourth, and Riverside senior Ben Schroder took sixth. A sleeper here is the much-improved Cole Dooley — a junior at Treynor. He ran seventh in this mile race while Underwood junior Bryce Patten was eighth. Logan-Magnolia junior Gavin Maguire is another that could factor in, as he had the eighth-fastest time during the 2019 season.
3200: The top returnee is….well, it’s McGee again. Dreyer was third, Schroder was fifth, Patten was sixth and Dooley was seventh. A lot of familiar names. IKM-Manning junior Nolan Ramsey also ran eighth in the race. In addition, Treynor junior Ryan Konz posted the seventh-fastest time of the year in this event.
110 hurdles: The top four finishers were all juniors and are all gone. The top returning finisher is Audubon junior Gavin Smith, who belongs to a family that may know a thing or two about hurdles. IKM-Manning senior Liam Carter was seventh and Missouri Valley senior Fred Veatch came in eighth. Also, Treynor senior Noah James had the eighth-fastest time during the course of the 2019 season. Just a hunch, but I’m guessing Schaaf could have run pretty well here, too.
400 hurdles: No Schaaf in this race two years ago, but he did have the second-fastest time during the season. Audubon’s Smith did run in the race and is the top returnee after taking runner-up in 2019. James took fourth, Audubon junior Brandon Jensen ran fifth and IKM-Manning’s Carter was sixth. Underwood’s Carter Davis is into his junior year and finished seventh here, and Riverside senior Wyatt Sparr ended in eighth.
Long jump: The top returning finisher here is Pearson, who ended up in third place at the meet. Treynor senior Evan Smith was fifth, Missouri Valley’s Veatch was seventh and IKM-Manning senior Drew Doyel ended up as an eighth place finisher. Rasmussen is a wild card here, too, as he had the third-longest jump of the season. Underwood junior Joey Anderson had the sixth-longest jump of the year.
High jump: This was a small group with only five competing. Treynor’s James finished second to his teammate Tiarks. Meanwhile, Underwood senior Blake Hall took third, and Logan-Magnolia senior Randen Bradshaw ended up fourth.
Shot put: Underwood’s Gardner was the runner-up two years ago and should be back to make a run at the title. Lo-Ma’s Melby took sixth in the event, and he’s the last of the returnees. Look for Underwood’s Easton Eledge to make a move in his junior year.
Discus: The state runner-up was also the WIC runner-up (Melby). Gardner ended up third while Melby’s brother Tru Melby was fourth. Those are the lone remaining trio from 2019.
RELAY EVENT-BY-EVENT BREAKDOWN
Now for a look at the relays that finished among the top three two years ago.
4x100: The Vikings had some dogs running in this group and one of them could be back in JJ Madsen, who ran second for the champ. Treynor ended up third and will bring back their lead league in Smith. Third-place Audubon has graduated their entire foursome.
4x200: AHSTW was also the winner here, and they used the same four, meaning Madsen (the second leg) is the lone returnee. Runner-up IKM-Manning has graduated all four of their members, and Treynor is in the same situation as AHSTW with Smith the lone returnee in the third leg.
4x400: IKM-Manning loses all four of the members of their champion relay here. Underwood, which ran second, returns just their lead leg (Pearson). Missouri Valley took third and could return their second leg, Hunter Hoden.
4x800: Underwood was so deep with half-milers two years ago that they didn’t even run Wollan here, and they were still able to win by nearly six seconds. Pearson would be the lone returnee from that group, though. Runner-up IKM-Manning had a great team themselves and will not return any members of that group. The Big Reds took third and could return just one here, too, in Hoden.
Sprint medley: IKM-Manning was the winner here, too, and that entire foursome is gone. Treynor finished in second and could return their anchor, Larsen. Audubon is the only among the top three that has two legs that could return with Jensen running the second 100 and Joel Klocke on the anchor.
Distance medley: Treynor was the champ, and they have a dude from that team that is really worth watching this year in Todd Pedersen. He ran the third leg in this medley. Underwood placed second here and could return their second 200 leg, Collin Brandt. And in third was Riverside, who lost all four members of their group.
Shuttle hurdle: Treynor lost three members of their state runner-up and WIC champion with Schaaf as the lone returnee. I feel they might still be able to put together a pretty solid group, and yes, I am understating this. Underwood, though, brings back half of their runner-up in Davis and Hayden Goehring. And Audubon — the dynastic Audubon — will have one returnee among their quartet from the third place team in 2019.
A FEW CROSS COUNTRY THOUGHTS
I think the aforementioned Cole Dooley is primed for a pretty big year, and we can use the cross country season as evidence. The dude was a dominant force in the WIC, winning the conference by over 30 seconds.
A few other top 10 names to keep an eye on:
-Brek Boruff, Junior, Missouri Valley: Missouri Valley graduated a lot of important dudes over the past couple years, and that should leave an opening for Boruff and a few other junior teammates.
-Cody Gilpin, Junior, Missouri Valley: Gilpin was ready to make a move this fall, and he did just that with a third-place finish in the WIC.
-Will Gutzmer, Junior, Missouri Valley: Could the Big Reds be a sleeper in the 4x8 this year with this trio of juniors that all finished in the top 10 in the WIC XC meet?
-Sean McGee, Sophomore, Tri-Center: Another McGee to watch improve throughout a season and career. The younger McGee ended up ninth this past fall in the WIC race.
-Gable Porter, Sophomore, Underwood: I would doubt that he’s running track during freestyle and greco season, but I would rather have him in here and not be out than the other way around. Plus, I think it’s worth honoring what he did in the XC season (WIC runner-up, state qualifier).
-Mason Yochum, Sophomore, Treynor: An 8th-place finisher in the Western Iowa Conference, Yochum could get his first taste of varsity track.
I think it’ll be Treynor and Underwood again this year. I know both programs feel really good about their chances from a state perspective and not just from a conference perspective. I don’t know who will win it, but I know watching Schaaf and Wollan (and many others) gut through some of the most grueling races in track is going to be a real treat this spring.
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