MAPLETON, Iowa | Recently, Jordyn Pester learned a valuable lesson that she’ll take into this week’s Class 2A state track meet.
There was an impressive matchup of 400-meter state champions at the Westwood Invitational. Pester, a senior from MVAOCOU and the defending 1A state champ in that event, was running against the defending 2A titleist, Alta/Aurelia senior Lily Peterson.
Pester won the race, clocked in 57.76, During her first-ever meeting against Peterson, who finished second (58.99).
And now, they're on a collision course to meet in the 2A state finals.
Pester, the Sioux City Journal’s Siouxland Athlete of the Week, found herself running Peterson’s race that night at Sloan. She said she was slower out of the blocks than Peterson, who had defeated the 18-year-old daughter of Kevin and Sheli Pester of Charter Oak in the anchor leg of the sprint medley relay.
“Both of us felt each other out when we were running the sprint medley,” said Pester. “I was nervous. I had the better seeded time. She ran slower when we got out, then she drove it home the last 200. We were just gradually building up. I was at top speed the last 200 and finished strong.
“Part of (the lesson) I learned is knowing your competition and how they run their race. You have to feed off your competitor, but you also have to go out there and do what you have to do.”
Still, it was a thrilling race between two outstanding runners. During last Thursday's state qualifying meets, Pester and Peterson weren’t set up against each other as Pester posted a 58.49 while taking first at Treynor and Peterson was clocked in 59.38 while winning at Manson, clockings that rank first and second, respectively.
By the way, at Treynor, Pester defeated Underwood's Karley Larson, whose 1:00.05 ranks third.
“The way Jordyn runs the 400, she gets out as good as anyone I have ever seen,” said MVAOCOU co-head coach Scott Breyfogle. “She’s meticulous with her block work and runs that first curve well. She’s understands how to run the curves and how to lean into the curves. She has great sprint stamina and keeps her form the entire race.
“Against Karley at districts, they ran neck and neck, but in the last 100, you could sense Jordyn’s form was staying strong. That was the difference. That’s her race. She’s put a lot of work into the 400.”
How much work? Representing Charter Oak-Ute in the 2016 1A state meet, Pester turned in an 11th place 1:01.41 while circling the blue oval at Drake Stadium.
A year later, Pester won the 1A 400 in a Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto school-record 56.97. The Rams were outscored by a narrow 48-46 margin in the battle for the team title by Sigourney, thanks in part to Pester, who ran the third legs of both the first-place 4x400 (a school-record 4:04.0) and the second-place sprint medley (1:52.23), both relays anchored by current Morningside distance runner Megan Todd.
Incidentally, MVAO ran a school-record 1:50.5 in last year’s state qualifying meet. Pester, who will also represent MVAOCOU this week at state in both the 200 (school-record 26.06) and the sprint medley, now anchors the sprint med, where she is preceded by senior Brenna Lansink, sophomore Cameron Brenner and senior Jo Hannah McKibben, a 100 qualifier.
“There’s a difference being the anchor because you’re the one who has to bring it home,” said Pester. “It’s a close race until you anchor because the distance is so short. You have to be the one who’s ahead or chase down the one who’s ahead.
“When we raced Alta for the first time, it was super hard because they have Lily, the defending state champion. We felt the challenge of being pushed. Competing against harder teams made us better.”
Pester is quick to cite the sprint workouts led by co-head coach Gaige Gill and Ethan Heinse. Their sprint and stamina training makes the difference, she said, because it gives her endurance others don’t have in the end.
“Their ability to create good workouts for our sprinters, I think we’ll see her run a state record because of her preparation,” said Breyfogle. “She’s put in a ton of work. Sixty-one seconds to 56 in one year doesn’t just happen. It takes work and commitment. She’s done every single thing I’ve asked her over two years and done it pretty well. We’re blessed to have her come here.”
Cole Schmidt, Hartington-Newcastle…. The senior was clocked in 11.09 while winning the 100 at the Class C District 4 meet in Ponca, a time that ranks seconds heading into the Nebraska Class C state meet. Schmidt also won the 200 (22.65) that night.
Elijah Lamoreaux, Westwood…. The senior shot a 79 while claiming medalist honors at Friday’s Class 1A sectional tournament in Moville. Monday, he was the medalist with a 69 at the Western Valley Conference Tournament in Le Mars.