Success in the sprints has come easy for Spirit Lake's Joe Stein.
Two years ago, when he was at Okoboji High School, Stein finished in fourth place in the 100 dash in Class 2A at the state meet. The next year, after transferring to Spirit Lake, Stein finished in third place in the 100 at state.
Once again this season, Stein is flying by everyone in the 100. He has the top time in 2A going into the state meet at 10.68 seconds - a handheld time that's also the second-best time in the state.
While it all seems easy for Stein, this week's Sioux City Journal's Siouxland Athlete of the Week, he's as fast as he is because he's a student of the sprints. Being naturally fast isn't the only reason he succeeds at the event.
He's studied the best way to get out of the blocks, his endurance in the race and for the season and how to run the full 100 yards.
"He's just an excellent young man and a student of the sport and of the sprints. He has really worked hard in the offseason," Spirit Lake coach Brad Travis said. "Practice is his number one focus and based on a lot of studying and block work, the big advantage he brings in every race is his start. He's worked in his top end speed and his endurance in the 100 and 200."
Stein may be studying the best way to run his traces at Drake Stadium right now. It's what he has done for the past few seasons in order to reach his top-end time during his career.
"He has really broken down the 100 and 200 to small parts and what people don't understand, when you begin to understand that race, it's the blocks and the acceleration and how you finish the race," Travis said. "When you are running sub-11 seconds, that's what you have to know. He's gotten to that with a ton of work and effort on his behalf."
Stein isn't keeping the secrets to himself, either. Travis said Stein passes on his knowledge to his teammates.
"He's a great leader for our team, not just because of what he accomplishes on the track but for teaching the younger guys with how to come out of the blocks. He will take two or three guys with him after practice and teach them the things he's learned," Travis said. "He's become a coach of our team and that's been for the betterment of the team. They look up to him. He's been a rock for the team and watching him being a leader has been great."
Stein has a decent workload coming up at the 2A state meet, which starts on Thursday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Not only does he have the top time in the 100 in 2A, he's got the second-best time in 2A this season at 22.15. He also runs the first leg of the distance medley relay for Spirit Lake, which has the sixth-best time in 2A this season at 3:39.71.
The expectations for Stein are simple at the state meet this week — just go down and do what he's been doing over the past few weeks.
"If he does that, things will take care of itself," Travis said. "We are not looking at things place-wise because you have no control over that. We are just looking to run a PR at the blue track and maybe run better than we have ever. Then see where the pieces fall and I know he has big aspirations and goals and do the things he's been doing and I feel going about where he can go with those goals."
Going in as the top seed does put Stein in the right mindset, Travis said.
"If I had to pick a way to enter the state meet, this would be the ideal scenario," Travis said. "I love where his mindset is this year. I feel he is in a great spot and a great mindset for this week."
Girls track and field
Anna Winterrowd, OABCIG -- The sophomore goes into the state meet as the top seed in Class 2A in the 100 after running a time of 12.71 at the district meet. She's also the No. 2 seed in the 200 at 26.37 and is part of the 4x100 relay, which has the top seed at state at 50.62.
Freddy Bullock, Sioux Center -- The senior shot a 72 last week to win medalist honors at the Class 2A sectional at The Ridge Golf Course. His 72 was the lowest among district qualifiers and he helped lead Sioux Center to the district tournament.