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Underdog Trojans win NICL crown

May 8, 2013
By Jimmy Gillispie - Sports Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

GRUNDY CENTER - There was no shortage of emotions at the end of the North Iowa Cedar League track and field meet Monday night.

After the final girls' team standings were annonced, screams of joy could be heard throughout the stadium. A huddle of South Tama athletes began jumping around with excitement as they had just made history.

South Tama won its first league or conference title in track and field Monday night. The Trojans improved from a sixth-place finish in 2012 to surprise its competition with a first-place victory. They scored 134.5 points, beat rival East Marshall by seven points for the title.

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South Tama’s girls track and field team made history Monday night in Grundy Center. The Lady Trojans won their first-ever North Iowa Cedar League championship after finishing sixth a year ago. They won two events and scored in every event at the meet.

"The girls have been acceptive of what we've put them in," said first-year coach George Corum, who came out of retirement to coach the Lady Trojans. "They've worked hard and it pays off. It paid off tonight.

"It was great,"he added. "To step back and see all of the smiles and tears on those girls faces was priceless. The parents were the same way. That was something I'll never forget. That was cool to be part of that and see history made."

Corum and assistant coach Olivia Van Zante knew their team had the championship wrapped up before the final standings were announced. They knew going into the meet that they had a chance, but the victory was still quite sweet.

"Going into the last event, we knew it was close and coach Van Zante had it down to the point," Corum said. "That's always good to know. We knew going into this it was going to be extremely tight. Everybody was stealing point from everybody else."

South Tama won only two events Monday, but it scored in every single one. The two victories came in the field events, where they scored 49 of their 134.5 team points.

"We got a lot of points out of the field events again," Corum said. "That's so huge. When you come out of field events with around 40 points, that's huge."

Senior Shelby Bradley won the long jump with a leap of 15-feet, 6.5 inches, while senior Jade Rohach was third in the event.

Junior Samantha Holtz won the discus and placed second in the shot put, after losing the tiebreaker. Holtz threw 107-4 in the discus and 37-7 in the shot put.

"I was pretty happy with my shot, because I haven't thrown 37 since UNI," Holtz said. "Even though I got first in discus, that was a horrible throw. It was horrible. I'd almost rather have a PR and get last, but I got first and it's all about team points today."

Holtz's last throw of 37 feet came at the NICL indoor meet in March. On Monday, she altered her throw and was able to have similar success that she had during the indoor season.

"I think I've been throwing too high," Holtz said. "I really focused on throwing at the right angle. I've also been working on my speed across the circle. Doing those two things really helped."

Senior Kaleigh Sieck also placed third in the shot put. Freshman Madie Bacon tied for third-place in the high jump for the Trojans.

"We did what we had to do early," Corum said. "At one point, we were 30-some points ahead. We knew that it was going to be close, because of the caliber of athletes that East Marshall has. We knew it was going to be a dogfight to the end."

Freshman Tieranny Keahna threw at her first meet after suffering a knee injury during basketball season. Keahna couldn't spin in the discus ring, but her standing throw of 93-8.25 placed her fourth in the event.

"I was so proud of her," Corum said of Keahna. "She is coming back from a knee injury. Those four points were massive for us."

South Tama only placed second in two running events - 4x100-meter relay and the shuttle hurdle relay. The 4x100 relay team of Bradley, Rohach, Kiley Culbertson and Nicole Berry ran a 53.71 to finish runner-up to South Hardin.

The STC shuttle hurdle relay team ran a PR Monday, as it finished in a time of 1:14.91, just 0.01 behind East Marshall. The relay members were Bradley, Sieck, Julie Wise and Brooke Keller.

"I took some gambles tonight switching things around trying to get us some more points," Corum said. "Some worked and some didn't. As the head coach, I have to live with those. The points that we gained were more than the ones we lost by breaking some things up.

"What was really nice about the night was that we scored in every event," Corum said. "For us, that was really important. I told the girls, 'We didn't win every battle, but we won the war.' That's what's important. It proves you don't have to win everything. Some of the girls were disappointed we didn't win some races, but those second, third and fourth places add up. They're crucial."

The Trojans also scored points in the distance races from senior Kelsey Kupka, junior Taylor Ellenbecker and junior Erin Filloon. They combined to score 16 team points in three races.

"Distance wise, this was some high caliber running tonight," Corum said. "Kelsey Kupka ran lights out for us. Taylor did a great job for us, too."

STC will compete at Pella on Monday before traveling to Grinnell on May 9 for the Class 3A District meet.



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