LE MARS, Iowa – The weather finally cooperated enough for an outdoor track meet to actually be held.
And, the consensus opinion among athletes competing in the Don Shilling Invitational Tuesday at Jim Lorenzen Field was that they were happy to be here.
Sioux City East's Paige Hanson was especially grateful for temperatures in the 50s instead of the 30s and snow and ice that has been prevalent so far this spring.
Hanson ripped off a dazzling performance in the girls 400-meter hurdles, running 1:09.34 to easily outdistance the field. It was one of four victories for Hanson, who also led off the sprint medley and 4x400 and anchored the 4x200.
“This was my first 400 hurdles this year so I was nervous, but it was exciting,” Hanson said. “It was a beautiful day, we were really lucky to have this and we needed it.”
Hanson teamed with Kenna Inlay, Allyson Smith and Lauren Van Dyke for a winning effort of 1:50.58 in the sprint medley. She carried the baton home after Laken Gardner, Inlay and Smith in the 4x200 as the Black Raiders clocked 1:48.80. The 4x400, which ran 4:15.81, included Hanson and Van Dyke.
“We're trying to qualify for Drake in as many things as we can and hit peak PRs,” Hanson said. “I'm very happy with today, but there's always room for progress.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Madison Harms won the high jump at 5-foot-7, North's MaLika Peak-Wallace took the long jump at 17-2.5, and MOC-Floyd Valley's Meghan Hettinga won the shot put (38-6) and discus (125-5).
North High's Merga Gemeda doubled up in both boys distance races, winning the 3,200 in 10:00.69 and the 1,600 with a time of 4:38.64. Gemeda, a fifth-place finisher in the state cross country meet last fall, ran effortlessly while cruising to triumphs in both races.
“I've been ready for the outdoor meets,” said Gemeda, who's performed well in a couple of indoor meets this season. “I was hoping to break 10 (in the 3,200) but it didn't go as I planned, but they've been canceling meets right and left so I was happy to be out here today.
“It's not bad to start out the indoor season, but I'm looking to run in the low 9:30s. My No. 1 goal right now is to qualify for Drake and to make the podium for the state meet.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton claimed the boys team title with 167 points while East edged Le Mars for the girls crown, 135.5-130.
Max Murphy (110 high hurdles), Ty Boekelman (200) and Austin Freiberg (400 hurdles) were individual winners for the Warriors, who also won six of seven relays.
Shultz, Jorma Schwedler, Britton Delperdang and Boekelman teamed for a 43.86 in the 4x100, 1:29.29 in the 4x200 and 3:26.03 in the 4x400.
J.T. Engebretson of Le Mars won the boys 400 and long jump. Heelan's Annie Jensen copped both the 1,500 and 3,000.
Sam Hildahl won the shot put for East with a throw of 46-11 while Le Mars' Cody Franck took the discus at 153-9. West's Ray Ray Douglas won the high jump at 6-6 and Engebretson went the farthest in the long jump at 20-10.5.