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DES MOINES – To say it was a blazing-fast race may not do it justice.

Southeast Polk senior Sydney Milani broke her own all-time state record in the 400 meters at the Iowa State Track and Field Championships Thursday. Milani ran 52.90 seconds while Linn-Mar’s Payton Wensel went 54.73 to also break the old state track meet record.

After those two came an impressive effort by Sioux City East senior Lauren Van Dyke. Van Dyke ran 58.05 to take third place while Sioux City North senior Kaitlyn Mulder took sixth in 58.69.

“The competition was very, very steep and I think that helped push myself as we went,” Van Dyke said. “This is the first year I have run the (400) so first experience in blocks but enjoying it. It has gotten better since the first time I did it but I just enjoy it.

“I am hoping to carry this confidence into the next couple of days and hopefully PR and place in some other events.”

Van Dyke is set to compete in the 800 later this week where she qualified fourth and finished third at state a year ago.

Mulder, a four-time qualifier in the 400, earned a medal for the first time as she ran her best time of the season to do it.

“It was definitely faster and I found myself thinking ‘Oh, I am so far I must be running really slow,’” she said. “I had to remind myself that they were running really fast so I just tried to keep the same distance between us just to pace myself. I just gave it all I had.

“It is really cool because I got my goal and something I have been wanting to do for a long time.”

Merga Gemeda had an impressive bookend to his senior season as the North Star began his running season by taking fifth at the 4A state cross country in the fall and followed that up by earning his first state track medal with a fifth-place effort in 9:28.83.

“I didn’t feel good the whole season but today I just fought and I am so happy about it,” Gemeda said. “It is a great deal for me because I haven’t been in the top 10 the whole season and then today I fought and it was a really great race.”

It was his best effort of the season by more than 13 seconds and he had more than five seconds on the sixth-place runner.

East junior Ardell Inlay qualified fourth in the 200 running 22.17 and came back later to advance to the finals in the 100 taking sixth in 11.19.


Check out a photo gallery from the first day of the state track and field meet at


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