Track athletes from all over the state found themselves at Drake Stadium on Thursday May 22 through Saturday May 24 for the Iowa High School State Track and Field Competition. STC took six athletes to the state level this season including Samantha Holtz, Isabelle Tyynismaa, Dylan Kalinay, Zach Morris, Tyler Blocker and Robert Tyynismaa.
Senior Dylan Kalinay had a lot riding on his shoulders for the Trojans. After qualifying for State in each of his events (100, 200, 110 High Hurdles, and the 4x100 Relay), he took to the blue oval in the hopes of advancing each of his events to the finals. Kalinay started his venture on Thursday running in the 100 Meter Dash Prelims. He made it look easy breezy as he sailed on to the final round with the second fastest qualifying time of 11.03, just behind Greene County's Roman Phillips at 10.99. The 200 Meter Dash was up next for Kalinay on Thursday to which he also qualified in with a time of 22.27.
Samantha Holtz throws one of her final throws of her high school career and took fourth place at 40’8.25”
News Herald Photo/Allison Graham
Head Coach George Kuhter was along for the ride saying, "We thought that Dylan ran well in the preliminaries and even stronger as the day went on. Our goal was to make it to the finals and then see what happens and as long as Dylan keeps running well, he should be fine."
Kalinay saw more success on Friday as he moved on to the finals in the 110 Hurdles at 14.91. "Dylan's hurdle race was a bit slower than we anticipated. His heat was the only one into a headwind. I am sure he will be ready for the finals because that is his race and he wants to do well," said Kuhter.
Kalinay had one more to go and this time he would have a little help from his friends. Robert Tyynismaa is no stranger to Drake's blue oval but this was the first trip for senior Zach Morris as well as junior Tyler Blocker. After the last hand-off between Tyynismaa and Kalinay, Kalinay was in third position and really needed to push forward.
Coming off the corner he did just that. "Running at state is a lot different than running in a regular meet. The atmosphere is special and most of the time when it is your first time running at state the nerves start to kick in. The kids ran very well today considering that it was the first time for both Tyler and Zach. Their hand-off was a little shaky but getting the baton around the oval is the whole goal," said Kuhter.
Whether it be by sheer will, extreme athleticism or a combination of both Kalinay shot forward and won the heat at 43.71, the fifth fastest qualifying time. "Dylan continued to carry the team on his back. Things worked according to plan and getting the baton to him gave us a shot to make the finals and we did." said Kuhter.
This brings us to Saturday. Kalinay would run three of his four races in less than 90 minutes. He started his day with the 100 M Dash Finals, which came down to a true photo finish. With no more than a hair's length separating the two, Kalinay ended in the runner up spot at 11.04 while Knoxville's Tanner Dunkin earned the gold at 11.03. "The 100 was the fastest race all day in all classes and it was frustrating for Dylan to come up one hundredth short, but that's what you get in the 100 meters," said Kuhter.
Kalinay moved on the earn bronze in his favored event the 110 High Hurdles with a run of 14.97. Earning fifth in the 200 M Dash Kalinay would run his final race of his high school career as the anchor in the 4x100 relay. "Dylan had a great day. If you look at the difference in the style from race to race, I think the best race he ran all day was the hurdles. He stayed out of trouble and I knew he wanted to run well in that race because he wanted some redemption for the Drake Relays," said Kuhter.
The 4x100 relay team was the underdog this season that turned into the story of the year. This was the same relay event that South Tama captured state gold in 2013. Kalinay, being the only returner from that squad, had some extra pressure on his shoulders. There were about eight different configurations before the final lineup of Kalinay, Tyynismaa, Morris and Blocker was decided at the Meskwaki Dream Builder meet a couple weeks ago. "Tyler Blocker has been steady all year in the starting position and when we added Zach to the second leg we had someone who had a strange, steady confidence and it showed all weekend," said Kuhter.
Morris kept his cool when a mistake from another lane could have shattered his confidence. "Not many people saw it but he actually stepped on a dropped baton (from lane 3) and kept going in the finals. That is Zach's personality, not much rattles him. Robert Tyynismaa's poise showed very well in the third spot. He is a nice, steady, calm guy. I am sure that his state experience and the chance to get the medal kept him focused. We all knew that if we had the baton in Dylan's hand he would be able to make up ground on the teams in front of us. This team this year had to overcome a lot of adversity and in the end out twelfth place finish was pretty impressive. I am proud of these guys because back in February when we started, everyone thought that it was going to a rebuilding year. As far as that goes, we just kind of reloaded and when we missed the Drake Relays, the kids kind of made it their mission to try and get to state. We were not expected to do much, maybe a few qualifiers with Dylan, so that made our finish all that more impressive." said Kuhter.
So was Kalinay satisfied with his final appearance at State track? His answer was definitely yes. "I can't be upset with 2nd, 3rd and two fifths," said Kalinay who plans on attending Simpson in the fall.
Girls Track and Field
Senior Samantha Holtz felt amazing after her state experience. During the prelims the outcome didn't look great for the final round. However, her throw of 37'6" was good enough to get her into the finals. Holtz's first throw in the finals wasn't going to cut it but she didn't let the pressure get the best of her. On her second attempt she stepped up and obliterated her season best and her own STC school record with a throw of 40'4". Her family and friends were there to cheer her on as she was finally able to break the 40' mark that has been eluding her all season. Then, as if it couldn't get any better, she bet on herself again in the final throw of her high school career and shot a monster 40'8.25" throw that sealed a fourth place finish. "It's awesome because I thought in the prelims that it was going to be my last throw so it was good to actually come back for a couple more throws," said Holtz. Holtz plans to attend Wartburg in the fall and throw for their track and field team.
The lone sophomore to make it to state was Isabelle Tyynismaa. This was the second state appearance for Tyynismaa. Tyynismaa also walked away from the blue oval feeling pretty darn good. Running in the 200 and 400, Tyynismaa set personal records for herself in both events. The first event for Tyynismaa was the 200 M Dash. She finished 20th at 27.06 and even though that was a personal best she wasn't completely satisfied. She came back stronger in the 400, winning her heat at 1:01.13 which landed her at 14th overall. So how does Tyynismaa feel about her end of the season at state, "I'm feeling good. I'm glad that I finished my season with pr's," said the sophomore trackster.
Tyynismaa is already looking at next year and wants to get her 400 time to under a minute and would like to add another event to bring to the blue oval. Congratulations to both boys and girls STC track teams on an outstanding season. Go Trojans!