KNOXVILLE - South Tama County's girls' track and field team started its outdoor season off on the right foot Saturday.
After canceling their Early Bird Invitational earlier in the week, the Lady Trojans finished third out of eight teams at the Panther Relays. Oskaloosa won the meet with 171 points, while Pella finished runner-up with 162. STC scored 132 points , which was 42 ahead of fourth-place host Knoxville.
"Some of these teams have had a couple outdoor meets," coach George Corum said. "This being our first one, I felt really good about it. We were running with them for the majority of the meet. When you're right behind Oskie and Pella, you're running with some good people."
South Tama senior Nicole Berry, right, carries the baton during the final leg of the 4x100-meter relay. Berry held off her opponents from Pella and Oskaloosa to win the race for STC. Joining her on the relay were Shelby Bradley, Jade Rohach and Kiley Culbertson.
Saturday's meet was the first outdoor one for the Lady Trojans. Everyone at the meet battled blustery conditions as there was a strong wind out of the south. Despite the windy condtions, STC won four events and placed in the top three in nine others.
Junior Samantha Holtz led the way in the field events with a first and second-place finish. Holtz easily won the discus with a toss of 115 feet, 6 inches. Her best throw was 10 feet further than the next best competitor. Holtz also placed runner-up in the shot put. Her mark of 35-2 was beaten by three inches by Taylor Crawford of Oskaloosa.
On the track, two relays earned top marks for the Lady Trojans. Their second event of the day, 4x800-meter relay, was the first to win gold. The Lady Trojans cruised to the victory as they won by 23 seconds in a time of 11:09.35. The relay members were senior Kelsey Kupka, freshman Madie Bacon, junior Trisha Walz and junior Taylor Ellenbecker.
South Tama results
100 6. Rohach, 13.35; 10. Peters, 13.84
200 4. Rohach, 28.86; 9. Peters, 31.50
400 3. Rohach, 1:05.32; 4. Bacon, 1:08.47
800 3. Kupka, 2:42.19; 5. Ellenbecker, 2:48.16; 9. Walz, 2:57.45
1,500 2. Kupka, 5:40.24; 4. Ellenbecker, 5:54.87
3,000 2. Ellenbecker, 12:23.36; 6. Filloon, 14:46.95
100 hurdles 9. Bradley, 18.65; 10. Wise, 19.21
400 hurdles 5. Hala, 1:23.58; 6. Keller, 1:23.92
4x100 relay 1. Bradley, Rohach, Culbertson, Berry 54.38
4x200 relay 2. Bradley, Culbertson, Berry, Craun 1:58.36
4x400 relay 3. Magpie, Hoskey, Hala, Keller 4:48.94
4x800 relay 1. Kupka, Bacon, Walz, Ellenbecker 11:09.35
800 medley 4. Bear, Berry, Culbertson, Magpie 2:05.97
Distance medley 3. Culbertson, Berry, Magpie, Kupka 4:50.09
High jump 3. Bacon, 4-8
Long jump 4. Bradley, 15-2; 8. Craun, 14-6
Shot put 2. Holtz, 35-2; 17. Martinez, 20-6
Discus 1. Holtz, 115-6; 14. Walz, 59-10
4x100 relay JV 1. Bear, Craun, Peters, Rios 58.31
4x200 relay JV 2. Kroeger, Hala, Keller, Chyma 2:07.43
South Tama also won the 4x100-meter relay. The Lady Trojans' anchor, senior Nicole Berry, held off opponents from Pella and Oskaloosa during the home stretch to earn the victory. She also leaned at the finish line, which made the difference as STC won the race in a time of 54.38 seconds. Pella (54.41) was second and Oskaloosa (54.63) was third. Joining Berry on the relay were Shelby Bradley, Jade Rohach and Kiley Culbertson.
STC also won the junior varsity 4x100 relay. The relay team of Brittany Bear, Riley Craun, Sonya Peters and Jasmine Rios won the race in a time of 58.31.
"It's nice when you can cap off some first-place finishers," Corum said. "Then you look at everybody else who contributed with those seconds or fifths. They all contributed."
The Lady Trojans distance runners were one of the highlights Saturday. Ellenbecker and Kupka medaled in each of their races. Ellenbecker began the meet with a runner-up finish in the 3,000-meter run, before placing fourth in the 1,500-meter run and fifth in the 800-meter run. Kupka finished second and third in the 1,500 and 800, respectively, in her first meet of the track season. Junior Erin Filloon also placed sixth in the 3,000.
"Having Taylor come back after running that 3,000, where she finished second, and anchoring that 4x800 with very little recovery time was incredible," Corum said. "Then you have Randy Wilson, who is a former Olympian, come up and put his arm around her and tell her, 'What a great double.' That's a huge moment."
South Tama's 4x200-meter relays finished runner-up in the varsity and JV races. The varsity squad ran a 1:58.36, which was its fastest of the season. The relay members were Bradley, Culbertson, Berry and Craun. The JV team of Michele Kroeger, Kallie Hala, Katie Chyma and Brooke Keller placed second in a time of 2:07.43.
The Lady Trojans also finished third or fourth in seven more events. Those results include Bacon in the high jump (third, 4-8), Bradley in the long jump (fourth, 15-2), Rohach and Bacon in the 400-meter dash (third and fourth) and Rohach in the 200-meter dash (fourth, 28.86).
STC's sprint medley, distance medley and 4x400-meter relays also placed high. The sprint medley team of Bear, Berry, Culbertson and Samantha Magpie finished fourth. Culbertson, Berry, Magpie and Kupka teamed up for the distance medley and placed third in the race. The 4x400 relay team of Magpie, Naomi Hoskey, Hala and Keller finished third in the final event of the meet.
"The girls have been working hard and it's paying off, especially with our distance people," Corum said. "I am very proud of the girls. Everybody ran in the wind and the wind really made a difference on the distance girls, but we had some great performances today. It was a very good team effort. Not one person or one relay team really shined above everyone else, but it was a good team effort. It's good to see that. To be a good team, that's exactly what you have to have. You need to have everybody contributing and they did it today, from our freshmen to our seniors. They all did a great job."
South Tama is scheduled to travel to Saydel for a meet Saturday. STC will host a home next Thursday.