Getting some experience
After his team didn’t have a single event finish in the top two places at last Thursday’s Class 3A state qualifying meet in Mt. Pleasant to automatically get to the state track meet, Washington head boys’ track and field coach Steve Roth had a long night.
“It was excruciating,” Roth recalled. “It was the worst night I’ve had in a long, long time in track and field. I knew we ran fast, but until you see what happens in the rest of the state, you just never know if it’s fast enough.”
As it turned out, the Demons were fast enough. When the Iowa High School Athletic Association released the list of state qualifiers on Friday afternoon, Roth found that his team qualified for state in six events. It was a huge relief.
“I was very ecstatic,” Roth said. “I was very happy for them. It was very hard to believe. I had to go back and double-check it two or three times. I’m very proud of them.”
Now Roth has two goals for his team at this weekend’s state meet. He wants his Demons to lower their times, and he wants his young athletes to gain experience. Besides senior Kyle Roder and junior Carl Sivels running the 4x200 and junior Alex Coker anchoring both the 4x200 and 4x400 relays, the rest of Washington’s state qualifiers are sophomores or freshmen.
“It’s an experience thing for us,” Roth said. “We only have one senior running. We’ll have something to build on for next year.”
Roth is taking four sophomores and a freshman to Des Moines this weekend. Sophomore Gage Redlinger will compete in four events — the 400-meter hurdles and the 4x200, 4x400 and shuttle hurdle relays — and sophomore Jacob Hennigan will compete in three — the 110-meter high hurdles and the 4x400 and shuttle hurdle relays.
“Gage has done an outstanding job,” Roth said. “He’s our MVP right now, just because of the different things he can do. He never complained. He always just believed in what we wanted him to do. And Jacob Hennigan is the same way. I thought he was more relaxed than a lot of them [at the state qualifying meet]. It’s outstanding for those two guys as sophomores to be doing that.”
Sophomore Alex Gonzalez and freshman Jack Giardino join Redlinger and Hennigan to make up a very young shuttle hurdle relay quartet. And sophomore Tommy Peterson will compete in the shot put.
“We want to improve our throws and lower times and get some good experience,” Roth said. “We’ll try to get some good experience and have some good things happen to them because it’s been a tough year for track and field in Iowa.”