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Sioux City East's Ellen Dougherty inducted to IGHSAU Track & Field Hall of Fame
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Sioux City East's Ellen Dougherty inducted to IGHSAU Track & Field Hall of Fame

Ellen Dougherty, Drake Relays

Nebraska and Sioux City East standout Ellen Dougherty, left, works to pass Minnesota’s Katie Hill, right, in the 4x800 meter relay at the 102nd Drake Relays in Des Moines.

Ellen Dougherty Mangieri wasn't surprised when she got the call from the IGHSAU, which had some big news for the former East track star.

This spring, Dougherty received her call as the IGHSAU notified Dougherty that it was her turn to get inducted into the IGHSAU's Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Dougherty, who set two records at the state meet, has thought about this moment for the past few years as she watched former teammates get inducted to the Hall of Fame along with a few runners Dougherty competed against.

"It was exciting to say the least. I can't say that I haven't thought about it. A few of the people I ran against and with got inducted and I wondered when it would come," Dougherty said. "It brought back a lot of memories. Without it coming off as egotistical, I thought more of when it would happen, that was my perspective. I was excited that it happened this year. It's a really big accomplishment. We had a great group of runners in Iowa over that four- to six-year period of time. It was pretty incredible."

Dougherty competed at East from 2006 to 2010 and was part of four state championships. She competed against 11 different preps that are now members of the IGHSAU Track & Field Hall of Fame. She was a member of two Drake Relays-winning relay teams and won the 400 hurdles at Drake as a junior.

"Shoutout to Rick Clarahan," Dougherty said. "I owe a lot of my memories and accolades to him."

While there are plenty of memories to choose from, Dougherty's most memorable moment on the blue oval was during her junior season when she ran on the 4x400 meter relay with Shelby Houlihan, Reyna Mikulicz and Emily McCarthy. That relay team not only won the 4x400 relay against a vaulted Waukee team, the foursome set an Iowa all-time best record of 3:48.39.

The record still stands to this day.

"Waukee had a competitive 4x400 and we went back-and-forth at state and at Drake. I thought we had it in the bag and they weren't going to run their stud," Dougherty said. "There was a back-and-forth conversation that we were going to run a 3:48 and break the record. Then they brought out their main runner and that was a fun race. It was something special.

"We were thrilled. We are so competitive and wanted it more. Shelby and Emily ran the 1,500 before and Waukee had fresh legs. If we had fresh legs, I think we could've taken a couple more seconds off."

It wasn't the only record Dougherty set as a junior. She won the Class 4A 400-meter record in 55.41 seconds, which was a 4A record. Her time in the 400 stood until 2018 when Sydney Milani set the All-Time Iowa record along with the 4A record with a time of 52.90 seconds.

"That was a little heartbreaking but records are meant to be broken or else it wouldn't be as thrilling," Dougherty said. "I think the 4x400 record will stand for a long time. The 400 stood for a good amount of time. As a junior, to set the 400 record against that competition, there were some pretty good runners at the time."

During her senior season, Dougherty was part of the 4x400 and sprint medley relay teams that won titles.

Dougherty continued her track and field career at the University of Nebraska. She was on the distance medley relay team that placed fourth at the Big Ten Conference Indoor Meet in 2012.

"It was a great experience. Anytime you can go to college for sports, it's an experience that still carries with you," Dougherty said. "I am thankful for the opportunity Nebraska gave me. My collegiate career, it had its ups and downs, different training styles and injuries. It was a fun ride."

Dougherty, now Ellen Mangieri, met her husband at Nebraska and the two currently live in Peoria, Illinois. She sells medical equipment and the couple is expecting their first child in July.

She still keeps up with her former teammates on social media.

"We will shoot messages to each other every now and again," Dougherty said. "I still watch every time Shelby sets foot on the track and it's neat to watch her compete internationally. Emily just had a set of twins recently. Reyna has kids. It's fun to see. Social media helps."

Dougherty is happy to get into the IGHSAU Track & Field Hall of Fame but she is disappointed she can't accept the honor in person. Normally, the Hall of Famers will accept the honor at Drake Stadium during the state track and field meet, which would've been this weekend.

However, the coronavirus pandemic canceled the high school track season in Iowa.

"It's extremely heartbreaking. We try and make it back for Drake or state," Dougherty said.

"I was looking forward to accepting my award and taking the picture with the eight-month pregnant belly to show to my kid in the future," Dougherty said with a laugh.

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