If you attended the Nebraska or Iowa state track meet last weekend, you undoubtedly saw this race.
Whether it was an individual event or a relay, one athlete has a sizable lead and appears a lock to win. Then, out of nowhere, comes a challenger, furiously making up ground and prompting the crowd to buzz with excitement.
But in the end the margin was too great to overcome, and the leader holds on to win by a whisker.
That best illustrates Iowa’s victory over Nebraska this year in our annual comparison of the state track meet bests from each state.
The Hawkeye State was coming off the most dominant three-year run in our 13 years of producing this exercise. Last year, Iowa had a 21-5 advantage in the combined girls and boys events that the states share. That followed two straight years of 20-4-2 victories.
In our 14th year, however, the Iowa and Nebraska boys each won seven of the 14 shared events. And the Iowa girls earned a narrow 7-4-1 edge in their 12 common events. That’s a razor-thin 14-11-1 win for the state on the eastern side of the Missouri River. And when you consider Iowa’s population is more than a million greater and that it has 69 more schools with track teams, perhaps Nebraska comes away with even greater pride.
But, as I’m sure the Iowa side will stress, it’s all about the W, and this was the fifth straight overall victory for the Iowans.
We state this every year, partly because the one time we don’t it seems guaranteed people will come out of the woodwork citing the unfairness of the comparison. So here we go: We’ve never claimed this to be a scientific endeavor. Since the events are held 140 miles apart on the same weekend, we enjoy comparing the top marks from each state. There are many factors preventing this from being a completely accurate assessment, including wind and other weather variables, track surface, tightness of the competition and amount of rest time between events. (Iowa runs its meet in three days, while Nebraska takes just two.)
I actually attended a district meet in Nebraska this year, and it clarified for me the vast difference in philosophy the states have in the sport. I sat for about four hours without witnessing a relay race, as just three of 17 events (three of 11 on the track) involve a baton. In Iowa, seven of its 19 events are relays, including seven of the 15 on the track.
I suspect Iowa has placed more value in the relays through the years partly because it believes it has the necessary number of schools and athletes competing to warrant them.
It’s also always interesting to see where one state is particularly dominant. For instance, Iowa had nine boys in the 400 meters faster than Nebraska’s best and 14 girls faster in the 800. Nebraska had five girls throw farther in the discus than Iowa’s leader.
Individually, it might be hard to find two more impressive performances than those by Bettendorf senior Darien Porter in Iowa and Superior junior Kalynn Meyer in Nebraska.
The 6-foot-4 Porter became the first Iowa prep to run a sub-47-second 400, blazing to a 46.99 to win the Class 4-A open event on Thursday. He will play football at Iowa State, and although he’s reminiscent of the great Baylor quarter-milers who used to come to the Drake Relays, he’s not currently planning to run track. Porter also won the Class 4-A 200 (21.76), placed second in the 100 (10.97), and anchored his team’s sprint medley relay to victory with another all-time best of 1:30.92 after a 46.6 anchor split.
The 6-3 Meyer, a junior who will play volleyball at Nebraska, turned in record-setting PRs on her final attempts of both of the throws. On Friday, her final discus throw landed at 176 feet, 8 inches to break the all-class, state-meet record. And on Saturday, her final shot put attempt traveled 49-5 to break the Class C state-meet record.
Of course, you probably have your own favorites from your trips to Omaha or Des Moines. Many of them are listed here.
Finally, it’s always worth mentioning that the intent of the comparison is not to diminish anyone’s achievement. All state championships are well-deserved and to be cherished.
But the feedback we’ve received through the years tells us it’s been a worthwhile and entertaining endeavor, one we plan to continue.
Nebraska: Dylan Kautz, Norfolk Catholic 10.53
Iowa: Bernard Bell Jr., Ames 10.92
N: Dylan Kautz, Norfolk Catholic 21.71
I: Darien Porter, Bettendorf 21.76
I: Darien Porter, Bettendorf 46.99
N: Wesley Ferguson, Fremont 49.07
N: Wesley Ferguson, Fremont 1:52.85
I: Joe Schaefer, Johnston 1:52.96
I: Reece Smith, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 4:17.82
N: Jose Gonzalez, Fremont 4:19.71
I: Reece Smith, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 9:11.33
N: Tyler Boyle, Lincoln Southwest 9:37.52
110 HIGH HURDLES
N: Darius Luff, Lincoln High 13.69
I: Trent Davis, Linn-Mar 14.52
I: West Des Moines Valley 41.68
N: Omaha Burke 42.42
I: Waukee 3:14.81
N: Fremont 3:21.96
N: Creighton Prep 7:48.89
I: Ames 7:51.95
I: Parker Kiewiet, Dike-New Hartford 22-10¾
N: Lincoln McPhillips, Hartington-Newcastle 22-1¼
N: Tyler Brown, Lincoln East 187-0
I: Logan Jones, Council Bluffs Lewis Central 185-10
I: Grant Brouwer, Sibley-Ocheyedan 6-9
N: Ajack Waikur, Lexington 6-8
N: Kevin Shubert, Millard North 62-3¾
I: Logan Jones, Council Bluffs Lewis Central 60-2
I: Kerris Roberts, Waterloo East 11.90
N: Kate Dilsaver, Lincoln Southwest 12.08
N: Sara Reifenrath, Hartington Cedar Catholic 24.66
I: Libby Wedewer, Dubuque Wahlert and Kerris Roberts, Waterloo East 24.74
I: Mackenzie Michael, Cedar Falls 55.64
N: Lauren Harris, Omaha Marian 56.24
I: Allison Bookin-Nosbisch, Ottumwa 2:11.45
N: Lindsey Blehm, Lincoln Southwest 2:16.42
I: Darby Thomas, Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln 14.23
N: Nisa Thomas, Omaha North 14.61
I: Dubuque Wahlert 48.28
N: Omaha North 48.56
I: Cedar Falls 3:51.51
N: Millard West 3:57.90
I: Ottumwa 9:13.85
N: Fremont 9:24.53
N: Madison Smith, Lexington 19-1
I: Darby Thomas, Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln 18-11
N: Kalynn Meyer, Superior 176-8
I: Jamie Kofron, Tipton 140-5
(tie) N: Jessica Moss, Syracuse 5-7
I: Miracle Ailes, Keokuk 5-7
N: Kalynn Meyer, Superior 49-5
I: Brylie Zeisneiss, South Hardin 46-5