DES MOINES - This isn't the same as your everyday invitational. The Bobcats learned that in their few strides.
Marshalltown High School's 4x800-meter relay team qualified seeded ninth for Saturday's timed finals at the 100th running of the Drake Relays, and the Bobcats agreed that their 10th-place result was nothing to scoff at.
If nothing else, it will make this MHS foursome more of a threat come May 21.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Marshalltown’s Jimma James fights his way through the pack during the opening moments of the 4x800-meter relay race Saturday at the Drake Relays in Des Moines. James and Bobcat teammates Patrick Fink, David Carbajal and Khor Kong placed 10th in the event.
Marshalltown's quartet of Jimma James, Patrick Fink, David Carbajal and Khor Kong combined for a time of 8 minutes, 15.4 seconds to round out this year's Drake Relays experience and pass this marker in good standing.
"Drake is just a checkpoint along the way and then you go back to work," said MHS head coach Doug Bacon. "That's how we'll look at this weekend and that's what we'll do.
"We learned some lessons and we'll have to do battle to get down here again in four weeks."
May 21 marks the first of three days of the Iowa High School Co-ed State Track and Field Championships, and the Bobcats seem intent on bringing this relay back for another chance to strut its stuff.
Marshalltown entered the Relays field seeded ninth and only slid back one spot despite failing to match its qualifying time (8:12.1).
"We were just a step off as far as speed today, and that's probably true for the entire relay," Bacon said. "But we're down here with two relays and we got experience on this track with these kids. You'll get bumped and bruised a little bit but we can learn from it."
Kong's anchor leg split of 1:59.8 helped the Bobcats gain two positions back as he passed the fourth runners from Iowa City High and Fort Dodge St. Edmond on the last lap.
James had to fight his way off the starting line at the gun, battling with a pack of runners for early position. He stayed off the rail for the first lap but eventually got pinned to the inside as his 800-meter leg wore on.
"From that standpoint it's a learning process for us, Jimma did do a good job of trying to stay off the rail," Bacon said. "He got bounced around a little bit but he was still in there."
Fink and Carbajal maintained Marshalltown's position before Kong brought the baton home in 10th in a dead heat with St. Edmond and Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
"It's definitely not what we wanted to finish but everybody tried their best," said Carbajal, the only senior of the four. "We're happy with what we got and we're happy to be here, it was such a good experience."
It was the first time on the blue oval for Carbajal as well as juniors James and Fink. Kong ran on Drake and state relays last season as a freshman and anchored the Bobcats' 1,600-meter medley on Friday.
"It's not too bad, it's definitely a lot different from what I expected," Carbajal said. "It's a different atmosphere, everything is so intense, but it makes everything fun though.
"The competition was a lot better than what we thought, but that gives us an idea of what to expect for state."
Pleasant Valley held off Waukee for the top spot, winning with a time of 7:58. The senior-laded Warrior foursome finished in 7:58.85.
Marshalltown was the fifth finisher among the nine Class 4A teams that ran. Six schools that qualified did not participate in the race.