South Tama's boys track and field team won eight events en route to finishing runner-up as a team Monday at its Early Bird Invitational.
The Trojans brought home gold in four individual races, three relays and one field event. They scored 146 points, which was 47 more than third-place BCLUW, but seven fewer than Newton, who won the meet with 153 points.
"I'm very, very excited about it, because it bodes well for the future," head coach George Kuhter said. "But my biggest problem is I can figure out how in the world we finished second. We went through the first five events with 63 points and we scored 146. That means for the the last 12 events, we picked up the same number of points. I know how it happened, but I don't like that it happened. But, I honestly can't complain about the start."
Trojan Kyle Stephenson (center) builds up a lead on his way to winning the 100-meter dash Monday at the South Tama Early Bird track meet. Just behind Stephenson is teammate Brody Boldt, second from the right. Boldt tied for second in the race.
Photo by Jeff Barker
The Trojans coach said they weren't announcing team scores during the meet. However, if the kids might have known how close the scores were, it might have made a difference down the stretch.
"People didn't have a clue and that's our fault," Kuhter said of the team scores. "People didn't have a clue, because we weren't announcing team scores. I think it would have gotten the kids into it more had we been announcing the team scores during the meet."
Despite not winning the home Early Bird Invitational, Kuhter and his team had plenty to cheer about Monday night. The Trojans placed first and second in the 100-meter dash and long jump.
Sam Kuhter and Kyle Stephenson finished first and second in the long jump, respectively. Kuhter won with a mark of 20-feet, 11 inches, with Stephenson right behind him at 19-9.
Stephenson came back and won the 100 dash. His time of 11.63 seconds easily won the race. Brody Boldt tied for second with a time of 11.92.
The Trojans also brought home gold in all three individual distance races. Brady Ellenbecker completed the sweep of the 800- and 1,600-meter runs. He narrowly won the 800 with a time of 2:05, as the runner-up from BCLUW ran 2:05.1. In the 1,600, Ellenbecker beat Levi Storjohann from BCLUW again, in a time of 4:46.78.
South Tama's Brandon Nelson took charge of the 3,200-meter run early Monday evening and never looked back. He led the entire race and won the race in 10:41.53.
"I didn't think that we'd take the 1,600 and 800," Kuhter said. "We swept the distance races. That 1,600 showed me that Brady is running smarter. He was tired after that 800, but he ran smart to win that race. That's the way you win big meets."
The Trojans weren't finished winning races. The boys team won three relays, one of which defeated the defending state championship team from BCLUW. Despite trailing heading into the final leg, the STC 3,200-meter relay team edged out the BCLUW squad, which returned three of four runners from its state title last year. STC won the race in a time of 8:41, two seconds ahead of BCLUW.
"I told the kids I would rather have smart than good, because our anchor ran right on his shoulder," Kuhter said. "He made up 50 meters in the first 100. Then our anchor just stuck to his shoulder. The other kid kept checking over his shoulder to see if he could see Clay's shadow and his shadow was right there. The last time we ran that fast early, we qualified that 4x800 for state."
South Tama boys were also victorious in the 400-meter relay Monday. The relay won by one second as it ran 44.75. The other winning relay was the 800-meter relay, which ran 1:33.18 to win the race. The STC "B" team finished third in the event, running 1:39.48.
"Our sprinters shocked me," Kuhter said. "Comparing times to how we've ran in the past, we haven't run a 4x200 like that since the days where we've had five all-state football players. The last time we ran a 4x200 that fast, we set the state record in the 4x100 and ran 1:32 in the 4x200."
STC's Ian Slagle placed in the shot put and discus for the Trojans. He placed second in the shot put (39-11.75) and sixth in the discus (113-2). Also in the field events, Grant Koch finished third in high jump as he cleared 5-6.
"We had a great surprise in the shot put and discus," Kuhter said. "Ian Slagle placed second and sixth. Grant Koch finished third in the high jump and that was big points."
Other top performances included the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles and the 400-meter thrower's relay. Boldt, Stephenson and Austin Lowe finished third, fifth and seventh in the 200-meter dash for the Trojans.
In the 400, Brad Cecak placed third in a time of 52.47. Dylan Kalinay finished third in the 110 hurdles, running 17.04. The STC thrower's relay finished runner-up narrowly falling to BCLUW (52.33) in a time of 52.35.
The Trojans competed at Grundy Center on Thursday. They will be competing at Knoxville on Saturday and at Norwalk on Monday.