Future Hawkeye Drew Clark destroys 3A shot put record

May 22, 2009
Marion senior Drew Clark concentrates as he makes his record-breaking throw of 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches during the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Marion senior Drew Clark concentrates as he makes his record-breaking throw of 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches during the 2009 Class 3A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Marion senior Drew Clark’s only competition tonight was against himself.

And he still won.

Clark destroyed the shot put field with every throw at the Class 3A state meet. But it was his second toss that vaulted him from state champion to state legend.

Clark heaved the shot 64 feet, 7 3/4 inches, nearly two feet farther than the 32-year-old Class 3A record. It was the fourth-best throw in state history and the 11th-best throw nationally this year.

Defending champion Brandon Scherff of Denison-Schleswig finished second with a throw of 57-3 1/2, more than 7-4 shorter than Clark’s best toss.

“Actually the state title has been elusive to me the last two years,” Clark said. “When I was a sophomore, I had my best throw I had that year, and I ended up getting second. And last year, Brandon Scherff got me on his last throw. I kind of struggled that day — the tensing up got me on that — so I just wanted to stay loose.”

Clark warmed up at West Des Moines Valley High School on Thursday. He stayed loose by singing to himself. He felt good entering Friday’s competition.

“Shoulder separation is like the main thing that gets guys hurt at state, tensing up,” he said. “My first warm-up throw I could tell it was going to be a good day. My forearm was kind of tight and that helps me out a lot. That way you can get the snap off your fingers.”

Clark took a low-key approach to his first throw, and hit 61-6 1/2.

“I knew it was going to be big next because he takes a safe throw his first throw just to make sure he’s in,” said Drew’s father, Chuck, who’s in his 25th season at Marion’s throwing coach. “So I knew big things were coming.”

With a solid throw in early, Clark unleashed his second effort. His approach was intense. He shouted as his released the shot. Event officials conferred and marked the spot twice just to ensure it was a record.

“I think my dad was the first one that knew,” Clark said. “He threw his hands up.

“The first throw I always like to take it easy and get one in. And so I crank it up with the second throw.”

Clark didn’t taper off as the event progressed. He hit 60 feet in each of his three throws in the finals. His last toss of 63-7 would have set the state record by nearly 10 inches.

He impressed his competitors as well. Among the finalists include future Iowa football teammate and roommate Brett Van Sloten of Decorah and future Iowa basketball player Brennan Cougill, who finished fifth.

“Geez, that’s an accomplishment,” said Van Sloten who finished third. “I feel so good for him. If another man can win, I’d love to see him win it. He’s such a nice guy. Sixty-four, that’s incredible.”

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Vinton-Shellsburg’s 4×200 relay team finished third in 1 minute, 30.56 seconds, just .04 seconds out of second place. Anchor runner Trevor  Walker started the final 200 in third place.

“After the corner, we were first,” said Walker, a senior. “Then it was just tight as possible at the end.”

In other 3A events, Washington senior Casey Negrete finished third in the 400 hurdles in 55.06 seconds. Waukon’s distance medley relay team finished fourth in 3:36.03.


Mid-Prairie’s Miller wins 400 hurdles in photo finish

May 22, 2009

DES MOINES — Mid-Prairie junior Tanner Miller crossed the finish line concurrently with competitor Matt Finn of Hudson on Friday afternoon in the Class 2A 400-meter hurdles finals.

Each were timed at 53.07. Both stopped for about 30 seconds before it was announced Miller had won the race by five one-thousandths of a second to claim the state title at Drake Stadium. It was mentioned to Miller following the race that few people have seen a race that tight.

“I’ve never been a part of one, either,” he said. “I just tried to hold him off. Me being taller than he was, that lean was probably what got him.”

Miller started inside on the first lane, while Finn was in the second. Miller gradually made up the stagger as the race progressed.

“By the time I got to that eighth hurdle, I tried to start my kick,” he said. “It turned out to be just enough.

“That was crazy.”

After the race, Miller was winded and walking away from the track, about an hour from competing in the 110 high hurdles preliminaries. He tried to rest between breaths and words. 

“If this was any other meet, I’d probably be dead and puking right now,” Miller said. “But being at the state meet, I actually feel pretty good.” 

In Class 1A, Postville junior Austin Hangartner finished fourth in the discus Friday morning.

Hangartner qualified for the finals with a launch of 149 feet, 1 inch, fourth-best entering the finals. The throw held up to keep him in fourth.

Click here for meet results

“That was one of my farthest this year,” Hangartner said. “It wasn’t quite my personal best, but it was still a good throw. I’m happy with how I did.”

Hangartner also qualified for state in the shot put. He finished 16th on Thursday and did not make the finals.

“I just wanted to get to the (discus) finals,” Hangartner said. “I’m glad I had a good day here. It made up for that.”

Olin sophomore Jordan Cress posted the area’s best boys finish in Class 1A Friday morning. Cress cleared 6 feet, 2 inches in the high jump, tying for third place. Five jumpers hit 6-2 overall.

East Buchanan senior Trevor Franck finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles in 56.07 seconds. Lisbon’s distance medley relay team finished sixth in 3:40.45. Freshman Conner Smock, who won the Class 1A 3,200 state title on Thursday, anchored the event for Lisbon.

“Our team did pretty solid,” Smock said. “We got team points, and we’re hoping to get the team championship.”


Future Hawkeye Keenan Davis helps CR Washington take Class 4A lead

May 22, 2009
Cedar Rapids Washington's Alex Carr approaches the finish line in front of West Des Moines Valley's  Isaac Lintz and Kennedy's Kyle Slaymaker during the 4A Boys 4x200 Meter Relay during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Washington won the race in 1:27.64. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids Washington's Alex Carr approaches the finish line in front of West Des Moines Valley's Isaac Lintz and Kennedy's Kyle Slaymaker during the 4A Boys 4x200 Meter Relay during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Washington won the race in 1:27.64. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Chest bumps and high-fives are nothing new for Cedar Rapids Washington’s relay teams this year.

But this morning’s 4×200-meter relay brought poses and multiple jumps from Washington’s foursome. The Warriors scorched their competitors to win the event in 1 minutes, 27.64 seconds, the 11th-best time in state history.

Washington stayed in tight competition with West Des Moines Valley and Cedar Rapids Kennedy throughout the race. Then anchor Alex Carr sizzled down the stretch in the final 100 meters to give Washington its second consecutive state crown in the event.

Cedar Rapids Washington's Ronnie Henderson chest bumps teammate Keenan Davis after their relay team won the 4A boys 4x200 meter relay during the 2009 Class 4A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids Washington's Ronnie Henderson chest bumps teammate Keenan Davis after their relay team won the 4A boys 4x200 meter relay during the 2009 Class 4A state track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

“We knew it was the seniors’ last run,” said Carr, talking about lead-off runner Larry Johnson and second leg runner Keenan Davis. “We were talking , trying to get the record. We didn’t get it, but we still ran hard, and (we’ve) given these seniors another 4×200 championship, like we did at Drake.”

The win helped push Washington to the Class 4A team lead with 29 points. Iowa City West is second with 27, one point more than West Des Moines Dowling. Cedar Rapids Kennedy is fifth with 18 points.

Click here for meet results

The 4×200 title appeared almost flawless for Washington. That’s not the case behind the scenes. Junior Ronnie Henderson, who runs the third leg, said he struggled with handoffs during Thursday’s practices in West Des Moines.

“Either I left too early, or I left too late,” Henderson said. “So that was a big thing. So this time, I was hoping to get the handoffs and take care of my leg. I just wanted to run my leg right.”

Davis, who will play wide receiver this fall for the Iowa football team, said the team tries to stay loose before events by singing songs.

“Our coaches tell us to have fun,”  Davis said. “When we have fun, everybody wants to run on our team. We try to be goofy a little bit. We’re a goofy group, but when we get together (before a race), that’s when we get serious.”

After the race, Henderson, Carr and Davis embraced at the finish line. They jogged toward midfield, and Carr began yelling for Johnson. Finally, 10 seconds (but what felt like 10 minutes to Carr) later, Johnson emerged. The two jumped up and chest bumped each other. Moments later, the duo re-enacted the chest bump after a request from a local television reporter so he could air it on the station’s Friday night telecast. Then all four runners embraced.

“It feels so good,” Carr said. “I’ll never forget this. I love you guys.”

Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s distance medley team broke out to an early led and blew out the competition to win that event by more than three seconds. Khiry Hopkins started fast  in the 200-meter portion to get the Cougars in the lead. Junior Josh Simmons maintained it throughout his 200. Sophomore Anthony Crawley extended the lead in the 400 with a 49.1 split. Once Crawley handed off to senior Kyle Slaymaker, it was over.

“Khiry, being a senior, he shot out fast and the whole goal was just breaking stagger (the staggered field),” Simmons said. “He busted it.

“Our goal was coming around and give it to our 400 runner (Crawley) in first and then let Slay do his job after that.” 

He’s a sophomore, Anthony Crawley, he’s been working with me all winter and all this spring. I knew he’d step up.”

Cedar Falls, which had posted the season’s best time entering the race, finished second. Cedar Rapids Washington placed fourth.

“We knew coming into  the third heat whoever wins this race, wins this one,” Slaymaker said. “It was just a race to first.”

Linn-Mar sophomore Kyle Dunn had no illusions of grandeur entering the 400 hurdles. He didn’t think he’d win and wasn’t sure he could compete for a title until the race nearly was over.

“I didn’t think I was in the lead until I went down the stretch and I heard the announcer say ‘Dunn and Holmes,'” Dunn said. “That just pushed me forward and gave me the confidence and the extra oomph to get to the finish line.”

“I was just hoping to get a top-four finish. I came out here and ran the race my coaches told me to, and turned it out well for me.”

Linn-Mar's Kyle Dunn hits the last hurdle on his way to winning the Class 4A boys 400-meter hurdles during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Linn-Mar's Kyle Dunn hits the last hurdle on his way to winning the Class 4A boys 400-meter hurdles during the 2009 State Track meet Friday, May 22, 2009 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Dunn edged Clinton’s Ethan Holmes by the slimmest of margins. Dunn finished the race in 52.70, while Holmes placed second at 52.71.

“I thought I lost it by a couple tenths of a second,” Dunn said. “I guess I got him.”

A photo finish at the end kept the runners waiting for nearly a minute. The wrong name originally went to the top of the leaderboard before Dunn’s name was announced as the winner.

Dunn led down the back stretch and even hit the final hurdle before recovering for the victory.

“It didn’t slow me down too much,” Dunn said. “I’m used to hitting that last hurdle.

“The second half of the race was all guts. That’s what the 400 hurdles are all about.”

Iowa City West senior Gavin Smith finished second in the long jump at 21 feet, 5 inches.


Catching up with future Hawkeye Brennan Cougill

May 22, 2009

DES MOINES — Iowa basketball recruit Brennan Cougill will compete in the shot put at today’s Class 3A state track meet. Then it’s all basketball, all the time.

The 6-foot-9 post from Sioux City Heelan is working on getting stronger and his outside shooting skills just weeks from moving to the Iowa City area. Cougill, Iowa’s Mr. Basketball this year, will compete in the Prime Time League in North Liberty this summer.

“It’s pretty exciting to be coming in,” Cougill said. “I’ve got to come in, and I’ve just got to work hard and put my work ethic out there and just give it 100 percent all the time.”

Cougill, who weighs around 260 pounds, said he’s uncertain if he’ll attend summer classes — ” it kind of depends on what the administration wants us to do.”

Cougill said he was concerned after four players transferred from the Iowa men’s basketball team in the offseason and stayed in contact with Iowa assistant coach Chad Walthall.

“Walthall is usually the guy that usually calls me and talks to me,” Cougill said. “Last time I talked to Lick was official visit, maybe.

“I didn’t call that much, but they were willing to talk if we wanted to talk. My mom pretty much got all that information. I was texting Matt (Gatens) and asked what was going on, and he said things were a little hectic but everything was starting to calm down.”

Cougill scored 28 points in the Class 3A state title game, a 77-42 win against Norwalk. He averaged 18.2 points and 13.3 rebounds his senior year and was the 11th player in state history to score 1,500 points and pull down 1,000 rebounds in a career.

The Iowa basketball team, sans newcomers like Cougill, are headed to Italy on Saturday for a four-game exhibition tour.


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