Marshalltown freshman wins two events in Bobcat Invitational

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown junior Gabby Himes clears the bar at 4 feet, 10 inches, to win the event in the Bobcat Invitational on Monday in Marshalltown. Himes matched her personal best with the height, the first time she’s cleared 4-10 since her freshman season.

In the first and final home showing of the season for the Marshalltown girls track and field season, it was a freshman who heard her name called twice at the top of the leaderboard.

Bobcat newcomer Phoebe Hermanson took full advantage of her first opportunity to compete in front of the home crowd by securing two victories on the way to MHS finishing fourth out of eight teams in the 43rd running of the Bobcat Invite with 68 points.

Hermanson started her day with a victory in the 3,000-meter run, where she beat out two strong Waukee runners for the top spot by running a time of 11 minutes. 9.46 seconds.

After the race she said she actually used her opponents to her advantage to deal with some of the less-than-ideal running conditions.

“It was definitely windy and it was cold, but in my 3,000 I had Peyton [Kelderman] from Waukee in front of me and my goal was to sit behind her until the last couple of laps so I didn’t have to deal with the wind, just use her as a windbreaker,” Hermanson said with a giggle.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown freshman Phoebe Hermanson, right, comes down the home stretch in the 3,000-meter race in front of Waukee’s Peyton Kelderman during the Bobcat Invitational on Monday. Hermanson won the 3,000 and anchored the distance medley relay to a win.

The 3,000 was the first of three races on the night for Hermanson, so Marshalltown head girls track coach Chad Pietig said he actually advised her to take it easier than normal in her longest event to save her legs for later. It was a good thing he did too, because Hermanson had a challenge ahead of her in her next event.

Hermanson ran the anchor 800 leg for the distance medley relay and when she received the batton from teammate Priscilla Vergara, she faced a 75-meter gap between her in second place and the team in first. She went right to work, however, and by the end of the first 400 the gap had reduced significantly, but there was still work to be done.

Once the race reached the final 100, Hermanson had overtaken first and glided into the finish line to give her team a win in a time of 4:36.61, their best time of the season.

“I thought it would be fun to catch her and I haven’t run an 800 in a couple of weeks, so I was eager to see what I could do on that and she was up there but I just thought, ‘I think I can do it,’ and I was just trying to go get her the whole time,” Hermanson said of her leg of the distance medley.

Pietig said he wasn’t surprised by the way his phenomenal freshman carried that relay to a victory.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown junior Erica Johnson, left, clears a hurdle on her way to winning her heat in the 100-meter hurdles in the Bobcat Invitational on Monday. Johnson would finish third overall in the 100 hurdles with a personal-best time of 16.98 seconds.

“We talk a lot about cutting the distance in half every 200, and you could tell she was doing that. Once she got close and realized she had a shot, she went for it and that’s just her mindset,” he said. “She is not going to settle for second, if she thinks she has a chance or even if she doesn’t think she has a chance, she’s gonna go for it. That’s two extra team points for us out of that effort, I am very happy with that.”

Hermanson nearly had a trifecta of wins but her tired legs got her at the end of the 1,500 and she ended up in second place for two golds and a silver on the day.

The third event victory was actually from the first complete event of the day, as junior Gabby Himes won the high jump for the first time in her career by matching her personal-best height with a jump of 4 feet, 10 inches. After clearing the height, Himes ran over to Pietig and her support group in a frenzy.

“I’ve been getting 4-6 and 4-8 on my first attempts, so getting 4-10 it was just like, ‘finally!'” she said.

Pietig agreed that clearing 4-10 was a long time coming for his junior vaulter.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“She’s been working hard lately on her approach and slowing herself down a little bit, using her strength and relying on that,” he said. “She has always had pretty good technique, we just needed to let her get things under control. In the last two weeks we’ve really seen a change for her, she was close to getting it last week twice so it was great to finally see that work pay off. You don’t get very many chances to win a meet and you definitely don’t get a lot of chances to win a meet at home, so that’s really cool for her.”

While Hermanson and Himes were the only gold medals for the Bobcats, they weren’t the only ones that showed out for their team. In fact, Pietig said overall he was incredibly pleased with how his girls competed in a tough situation.

“We didn’t have school today, it was a four-day weekend for them so you are a little apprehensive. You’re just thinking, ‘you haven’t seen them since Friday, what are they going to look like? Did they lay around all day or whatever?’ but I am pretty happy with the effort that we got, I don’t think anyone laid around all day,” he said. “They came ready to compete and competed hard, even in these windy conditions there were lots of season and lifetime bests and we won multiple events. I think overall it was a pretty good night for them.”

There were a trio of third-place finishes for Marshalltown, with Mia Barajas taking bronze in the 800, Erica Johnson placing third in the 100 hurdles and the 4×800 team also finishing in third.

Barajas ran a 2:34.63 to take third in the open 800, and she led off the 4×800 with a time that was sub-2:30, which is her best time of the season.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“Mia did a great job leading off the 4×800, put us in a spot to score, and that’s a little different because we are handing off to younger girls,” Pietig said. “She’s the lone junior who knows ‘I’m going to do a lot of work here, and it’s probably going to get chipped away at by other teams,’ simply because we are running younger girls who are less experienced. She doesn’t care though, she puts her team in as good of a spot as she can. Then she had a very solid 800, ran a very tactical race and got third place.”

Johnson was the surprise of the night, Pietig said, considering she shaved off nearly a second from her previous best of 17.7 to run a 16.98 in the 100 hurdles and place third without even running in the fast heat.

“Breaking that 17-second mark is a huge mark for a hurdler,” Pietig said. “She has been close a couple times last year, her previous best was something like 17.8 this year, so that’s a big drop, a big, big milestone for her. She has been racing with so much confidence lately that I hope that really just springs her forward and keeps her going. She won her heat and was third overall, you don’t see that very often, someone from the slower heat getting third.”

Senior Alyvia Chadderdon, running in her final home meet as a Bobcat, took fifth in the long jump with a distance of 15-8 and Pietig said she ran good legs in the 4×100, 4×400 and sprint medley, which finished sixth, sixth and seventh respectively.

“She’s been a great kid, the only senior and it’s tough to be a Class 4A school and have only one senior,” Pietig said of Chadderdon. “I give her all the credit in the world for sticking it out when others didn’t, hopefully that pays off for her at the end of the season too.”

The 4×100, made up of Chadderdon, Sara Trowbridge, Kierra Gardner and Abby Weldon, will bet the lone representative for Marshalltown at the Drake Relays for either the boys or girls teams. The girls will enter Drake as an underdog, one of the final qualifiers in a 96-team field, but Pietig said with Trowbridge, Gardner and Chadderdon returning after running in the same event last year there’s a strong chance they make some moves on the Blue Oval.

“It’ll be a good experience, the group was there last year and there’s only one senior, so they will mostly all be back,” he said. “It’s just a good experience and it will be fun for them, another chance to run on that track before hopefully the state meet. That’s what it will be all about, certainly I think we can improve our seeding down there.”

As for the Bobcat Invite results, Pietig pointed to some other times like Grace Collins finishing fifth in the 400 with a 1:09.30 as great things that happened that might not have if the team was more concerned about getting more drake qualifiers, but now that Drake qualifying is over the team can focus more on what’s ahead.

“Tonight is the first night where we got to just line up a lineup and score points, not worry about having to save a kid or anything,” he said. “That’s how the rest of the season goes, next week is about points. To me this is where track and field is fun, putting together a lineup and seeing kids go out there and chase those points.”

The MHS girls will compete in the 110th running of the Drake Relays in the 4×100 on Saturday, with the race starting at 9:30 a.m.

Bobcat Invitational

At Marshalltown

Team Standings — 1. Waukee 165, 2. Ankeny 117, 3. Mason City 69, 4. Marshalltown 68, 5. Waverly-Shell Rock 57, 6. Waterloo East 44, 7. West Des Moines Valley 42, 8. Fort Dodge 26.

EVENT RESULTS

(Champion plus MHS placewinners)

100 — 1. Kerris Roberts, WE, 11.82.

200 — 1. Kerris Roberts, WE, 25.14.

400 — 1. Holly Trimble, ANK, 1:04.94; 5. Grace Collins, MHS, 1:09.3.

800 — 1. Peyton Kelderman, WAU, 2:32.91; 3. Mia Barajas, MHS, 2:34.63.

1,500 — 1. Emma Shepard, WAU, 5:15.58; 2. Phoebe Hermanson, MHS, 5:17.95.

3,000 — 1. Phoebe Hermanson, MHS, 11:09.46.

100 HURDLES — 1. Shelby Romig, ANK, 16.02; 3. Erica Johnson, MHS, 16.98.

400 HURDLES — 1. Hannah Thomas, MC, 1:09.27.

4×100 — 1. Waterloo East 51.13, 6. Marshalltown 54.27.

4×200 — 1. Waukee 1:52.91.

4×400 — 1. Waverly-Shell Rock 4:20.15, 6. Marshalltown 4:33.76.

4×800 — 1. Waukee 10:08.2, 3. Marshalltown 10:43.83.

SPRINT MEDLEY — 1. Mason City 1:57.08.

DISTANCE MEDLEY — 1. Marshalltown 4:36.61.

SHUTTLE HURDLE — 1. Ankeny 1:09.81, 5. Marshalltown 1:15.02.

HIGH JUMP — 1. Gabby Himes, MHS, 4-10.

LONG JUMP — 1. Shelby Romig, ANK, 17-1/2; 5. Alyvia Chadderdon, MHS, 15-8.

SHOT PUT — 1. Kat Moody, WAU, 40-11.

DISCUS — 1. Grace Tobin, MC, 117-3.