DES MOINES It was a rollercoaster ride of a season for the South Tama girls track and field team, but it came to a close Saturday morning.
Two Trojans competed at the state track and field meet last week, completing a season full of ups and downs. Qualifying and competing at the state meet were two of the biggest highs all spring.
"It was fun," said junior Kelsey Kupka, who competed in the 1,500-meter in 2011. "It was a blast to come back this year."
South Tama's Kelsey Kupka competed in the 800-meter run at the state meet. She finished 23rd in a time of 2:29.12.
Kupka and sophomore Samantha Holtz represented the South Tama girls squad at the state meet. Kupka finished the meet for STC with her 800-meter run on Saturday morning. She finished 23rd, running a time of 2:29.12.
"It was really fast first lap," Kupka said. "It was about the same time that I normally run in the 400. It was good to be pushed."
Head coach Emily Chyma was proud of Kupka for making it to state and racing tough.
"Kelsey ran a strong 800, but she had a rough start - took an elbow, but she pushed through it," Chyma said. "I am always impressed with Kelsey's attitude and work ethic. She continues to get better and better every year and I know her senior year is going to be the best yet."
Holtz was one of the first competitors to finish her event at the meet. The Class 3A discus began at 9 a.m. Thursday. She fouled on two of her three throws, but her other toss flew 107 feet, 6 inches. She finished 17th.
"I was very proud of our girls performances at state, even though I know that nerves got the best of them," Chyma said. "Sam did a great job as a sophomore at her first, but hopefully not last, state competition. She went up against a tough group of throwers. The previous state record of 140 was shattered by a throw of 154, if that tells you anything on how tough the competition was this year. Sam really impressed me this year and I have a feeling she is going to make some noise in the next couple of years and I know there is going to be more trips to the blue oval for her."
She was proud of her team's season, although it had its ups and downs.
"I had a lot of fun with all of the girls this year and if I ever have a daughter, I hope she is like these girls - funny, tough and willing to work hard," Chyma said. "I am proud of the girls this year, but I know they have more and we have just scratched the surface of their talent. Next year is going to be more intense with workouts, lifting and plyos. I have a lot of talented juniors who are becoming seniors and my goal for them is to all qualify for state. It is going to be a lot of hard work, but I know they will rise to the challenge and bring the rest of the team with them."
The Trojans return the entire team next year, as they had no seniors on the roster this season. They battled illnesses and injuries throughout the entire season. Kupka was one of those, along with last year's state qualifiers Jade Rohach and Taylor Ellenbecker, who missed most of the season with an ankle injury.
"We had a lot of illnesses, but overall it was a good season," Kupka said. "I had to give up running three meets, because I was sick, too. I never did find out what it was."
Chyma is hopeful this year served as a learning experience and that her team is able to stay healthier next spring.
"I am very proud of my team this year," Chyma said. "They are young, but tough and I think they are learning that it takes a lot more work at the varsity level of track. I am hoping the ones who have a bitter taste in their mouth about this year take that and use it to drive them to work harder next year. This group has so much potential, but it is going to take more than just showing up.
"I feel like I let the girls down this year, because I am still struggling on juggling being a new mom, a teacher and a coach, so I feel we did not get into a consistent lifting program and that hurt us," she said. "I am looking ahead to next year and if track athletes aren't in a winter sport - they are in the weight room or taking personal fitness class from Mr. Van Dyk. We had a lot of injuries this year that I believe can be prevented from being physically stronger. We are also going to work on mental toughness next year and that can only be attained from being put through tough workouts and finding out that you can achieve and you are stronger than you think."