If not for the coronavirus, the high school athletic world in Iowa would be focused on Des Moines today, tomorrow and Saturday because the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union and the Iowa High School Athletic Asociation state track and field meet would be conducted at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
The Washington Demons boys track team had high hopes for a strong showing while the girls had a school record holder and a three-time qualifier primed to win, place and show at state.
The Demon boys had high hopes behind seniors Ethan Hunt, Evan Horak, Justin Simmering, Luke Turner, Michael Kimball, Jadon Crawford and Ryan Friese as well as sophomore Jacob Miller, who is moving in June.
“I can tell you we would have been tough in a lot of events at state,” WHS boys coach Steve Roth said. “I am so sad for my coaches and kids, and their parents!”
“I’m guessing Leah Marek and Hannah Anderson would have been my two seniors that would have qualified to state for sure,” Demon girls coach Stefanie Haworth said. “Addison Six and Demeri Bell are the only other seniors. I don’t have a clue with my underclassmen as none of them had qualified in the past. Several had been alternates, but it’s too hard to say exactly. We didn’t have much time to see what the younger kids looked like and how everything fit together.”
Roth said Hunt would have had an outstanding meet, especially in the 400 hurdles, an event he was fifth in last season and had targeted as a championship event this season.
“The thing I miss the most is being able to compete with my friends and my coaches,” Hunt said. “I was training to be a state champ this year in the 400 hurdles. I also wanted to get placement medals for the sprint medley, 4X400, and the open 400. The thing that I am really going to miss most about this team is the strong family bond that we have and being able to push each other. I am super excited to see how these guys will run in the upcoming years because there is a lot of talent coming up.”
Simmering “was looking good early” according to Roth and ready to repeat in same events he was at state for last year — 800 and 4x4 — and could have gone in the 4x8 and distance medley.
“Missing my senior track season is tough,” Simmering said. “I had goals to break my school’s open 800 record, to help qualify a couple of relays to State, and to be part of a Drake Relays-qualifying Distance Medley. I was confident that I could reach my goals with the help of my team. The Washington track team is great at helping each other reach their goals, and that is what I will miss the most: the camaraderie. Although I didn’t get the chance to reach my goals, I know several underclassmen that will do so for me in the years coming.”
Turner was at state in the 4x1 and 4x4 last year and is “a great leader. He set us up in the 4x1,” Roth said.
“I will miss just being around all my friends, laughing, joking, and motivating each other,” Turner said. “I also will miss running for Coach Roth and being around him. We were all very optimistic about the season thinking we would have a lot of success as a team and are disappointed we won’t get the opportunity to prove ourselves right.”
Roth thought Quigley would be at state in at least the 4x1 and the distance medley.
“I miss the memories and the coaches the most,” Quigley said. “Not having track and all the fun practices with Coach Roth and all the other coaches. This year I was hoping to be able to participate on the blue oval.”
Kimball was a possible state qualifier in the distance medley and the 4x4.
“I’d say the thing I miss most about track is competing and cheering on my teammates at meets,” Kimball said. “I feel our team would’ve qualified in many events for State this year. We had a lot of good runners returning. It’s tough not having track season senior year but I’m thankful for the three years that I got to participate.”
Crawford and Friese were in throwing events.
Miller “had a great attitude and I loved coaching him,” Roth said. He went to state last year in the sprint medley and the 4X1.
“This, for sure, is something I would have never expected to happen,” Miller said of the canceled season. “I was really looking forward to this season and the atmosphere at Drake and state. Our 4X1 would have been strong along with our sprint med and distance med. I was really focusing on qualifying for the 200 meters this year for state and hopefully placing at state in the distance med and sprint med. It would have been a big year for us. Coach Roth and Coach (Justin) Chambers had us prepared to do big things.”
Roth estimated the Demons could have qualified in as many as 13 events.
Horak, who “just had a great winter workout going!” Roth said, had some desire stored up in his heart after missing state in his senior cross-country season. He went to state in the 4X8 his sophomore year.
“Cross-country fueled me so I spent a lot of time lifting and running in the offseason,” Horak said. “Running at state as a sophomore was a heck of an experience. I would say it was the highlight of my career. I really wanted to go back, but it is what it is.”
Horak especially had his eyes set on a certain time in a certain race.
“The 1600 was my dream,” he said. “I was in the best shape to start the season of any of my years in high school. I wanted to run a sub 4 minute, 40 second time. I cut at least eight seconds off of my time last year.”
Missing his senior season of track entails a lot of cherished memories that are now gone.
“I really missed running under the lights at night,” Horak said. “I really miss my teammates and Coach Sallow and Coach Roth. There is a lot of bonding that happens between teammates when they put everything on the line.”
“I was really looking forward to my senior season and then it’s out the door,” Horak said. “It was pretty rough even though I had a feeling it was going to happen. I wanted to go to state so bad as a senior. I guess now I’m officially retired.”
Horak plans to go to Iowa State for college but not run competitively.
Marek has qualified for state all three of the previous years.
“We were looking at her in the open 400, and 4x1 for sure,” Haworth said. “The open 100, open 200, sprint med, or 4x4 were other options we were looking at as well.”
Anderson, who currently holds the school record in the 100 meters, the long jump and is part of the 4x1 relay school record, was back from a year off. “We were looking for her to run the 100, 200, 4x1 and long jump,” Haworth said. “She has medaled in all three events at the state meet in the past.”
Anderson had plans to be a state champion.
“I was hoping to win State in the long jump because I’ve been so close in the past and Haworth convinced me this was my year,” Anderson said. “Also I was looking forward to have our 4x100 place. I’m going to miss getting to meet new people and seeing old friends that I’ve made over the years.”
Marek and Turner were just named to the Academic All-State track team.
Read Friday’s and Tuesday’s Union for Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield state summaries.