TTNC State Track 2024 Preview

With the regular track and field season finished up, state track is on the horizon for many area athletes. Meskwaki had two events qualify, while South Tama qualified five events.

Meskwaki sends two athletes

After a record setting year two Meskwaki athletes emerged as state qualifiers. Sia Bear will be making her third appearance in the long jump. Her previous appearances were in 2021 and 2023 with last year being her highest finish, eighth place with a jump of 16’2″. Her senior season has been marked with many jumps exceeding her previous marks. Being over 16 feet consistently has marked many meet wins for the Meskwaki school record holder in the long jump. Sia Bear will be continuing her athletic and academic career at Cornell College starting in the fall. Bear is seeded fourth in the long jump with a jump of 16 feet 10.5 inches. The 1A Girls Long Jump will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 4:30 p.m.

Freshman Dorothy Bear has started her high school track career with a bang! Dorothy qualified in both the 400 and 400 hundred hurdles. This season Dorothy has also set the school record in the open quarter with a time of 1:04.57. That time in the 400 was run at the state qualifying meet leaving her with the 23rd seed. Her effort in the 400 hurdles left her at the 24th seed with a qualifying time of 1:11.32. An impressive double for this MSS freshman. The 1A girls 400 meter dash will take place on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. followed by the 400 hurdles on Friday at 5:40 p.m.

Trojans take five events to State

For the fourth consecutive year, the STC Boys have qualified a 4×800 meter relay. Coming into the season all four members from last year’s 12th place relay return to better their time and place. STC has developed a tradition of excellence in recent years with their distance program. In the fall, STC qualified for the 3A State Cross Country Meet for the first time as a team. Under Head Cross Country Coach Robert Tyynismaa, Assistant Cross Country Coach Baron Davis, and Head Track Coach Danny Mayo, the distance athletes have reached new heights. Over the last four years, seven different Trojan athletes have made up the state 4×800 squad, with the only two constants being Seniors James Brant and Tommy Tyynismaa.

This year, four senior boys have taken the eight-lap relay to new heights. The quartet of James Brant, Braxten Rohrs, Cade Rosenberger, and Tommy Tyynismaa have shown off the results of years of hard work and dedication from the senior class.

For 57 long years, 8:10.9 stood as the STC School record in the event dating back to 1967. This year, in a show of conference domination, the squad ran a time of 8:02.92 taking 7.98 seconds off the previous record. This massive improvement has led them to a conference title and the 3A state lead in the event.

Head Track Coach Danny Mayo spoke of the relay’s confidence leading into state.

“Not saying we are, but I think we can go into the mindset that the race is ours to win. We have the horses to get it done. That’s the wild thing to say. These kids have been working on this for four years. It would be sweet to win a state title in the 4 x 8,” he said. “If Tommy is close to the lead, he very well could catch up to about anyone in the state”

The 3A 4×800 will take place on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Up next for the Trojans will be the Distance Medley Relay taking place on Friday at 10 a.m. The relay consists of two 200 meter legs followed by a 400 leg and then an 800. Leading off for the Trojans will be senior Chase Gustafson, who is a newcomer to track and field. Cody Blocker will receive the stick next.

Blocker is a junior and has the fastest 100 and 200 times of the year for the Trojans. James Brant will then take a turn carrying the baton over 400 meters. Then, closing out the race, Tommy Tyynismaa will anchor the relay with his signature 800.

Of those four athletes, three are returning from last year’s sixth place distance medley. Coach Mayo spoke highly of Gustafson.

“Chase is a great lead off for us. He’s super pumped to be running on Friday,” Mayo said.

The quartet enters as a middle of the pack seed based upon their district meet time. The relay is contested over three separate heats with the fastest times determining the overall placing.

“We have three returners from last year all of which have ran faster on their respective leg this year. I think we should run a great time and can finish top five, challenging our school record of 3:35,” Mayo said.

Coach Mayo seemed hopeful for the only Trojan event on Friday.

On Saturday for the Trojans, James Brant and Tommy Tyynismaa will close out their illustrious STC careers in individual events. First up will be Tyynismaa in the 800 at 11:30.

Leading into the track season, Tyynismaa made a return to the basketball court after not playing since freshman year. This decision on his part played into the revitalization of the boys basketball program, often leading the Trojans in scoring.

The combination of the track training load and the toll of basketball proved to be a challenge and Tyynismaa was sidelined near the end of the basketball season with a stress fracture. After many weeks of cross training and avoiding putting excess pressure and weight on his legs, he could return to his normal level of running and other various physical activities. This slowed down his preseason training and all of his indoor season racing.

Around early April, Tyynismaa was back to racing and quickly set a state leading time of 1:54.12 in the 800. This time marked a full return to fitness and a Drake Relays Blue Standard, which guaranteed him a spot on the starting line later in the month.

Tyynismaa held his state lead until the Drake Relays, where he finished fourth. A sophomore from Western Dubuque named Quentin Nauman won the Drake Relays 800 in a time of 1:52.22, a time that no one in the state except Tyynismaa has ran before. With no one else in 3A coming remotely close to the times of Nauman and Tyynismaa, the 800 meter run is sure to be a much watched race between the two gifted middle distance athletes.

Coach Mayo spoke of his anticipation for the race and belief in Tyynismaa.

“I’ve known Tommy the last 10 years and he’s a tough son of a gun. I’m not going to doubt him. Whoever wins that race is going to run a ridiculously fast time. We very well could see 1:50 flat in the 800,” he said.

Ending out the Trojan line up will be both Brant and Tyynismaa appearing in the 1600 meter run. With a gun time of 3 p.m. Tyynismaa will have a decent turnaround from his appearance in the 800.

This is Brant’s third appearance in the event at state, with his highest placing coming last year with a seventh place finish in a time of 4:24.23. This still stands as Brant’s fastest time and second overall in school history.

Last year, Tyynismaa placed second with a time of 4:17.35 falling just short of his rival last year, Chase Lughman of Pella. With this being Tyynismaa’s fourth event and Brant’s third of the meet, anything can happen.

Coach Mayo spoke on tactics of the final distance race of the meet.

“The fun part of this race is everyone will be dog tired from different doubles triples and a few quadruples. It will be a straight up race,” he said.

It should be a fun and fitting end for two of South Tama’s best distance runners to ever grace the track. All running events will be streamed for free through the Iowa High School Sports Network.