Bobcat girls not settling with seeding

Alyvia Chadderdon

When the Iowa High School Co-Ed Track and Field Championships get started today at Drake Stadium, the Marshalltown girls will be represented by three events.

Gabby Himes is seeded 19th in the high jump, the shuttle hurdle relay team of Himes, Erica Johnson, Valeria Becerra and Mia Rasmusson is seeded 23rd, and the distance medley team of Sara Trowbridge, Alyvia Chadderdon, Priscilla Vergara and Mia Barajas is seeded 21st.

Though none of the girls on paper are in medal contention, Bobcat girls head coach Chad Pietig said they aren’t just going there to enjoy the moment.

“You want it to be more than just going and getting experience, we want don’t want to be satisfied with just being there,” Pietig said. “There is still work to be done, there’s time to improve, moving up in places, things like that. Those are what we will talk about this week, we want them to walk away feeling good and saying, ‘this was worth it, I want to get back next year.'”

Himes has the easiest path to improving her projected placing. With her qualifying height of 4 feet, 10 inches, Himes is only two inches away from moving up to 12th place.

Gabby Himes

This will be Himes’ first opportunity to compete on the state stage for MHS, though she does have some familiarity with the Blue Oval.

“I’m not really nervous about jumping since we’ve been there for another meet, so I have already been on there and experienced it, but it will be nice with more people,” she said.

Pietig said Himes even making it to the state meet is already an accomplishment, but he thinks she has a few more inches left in her jump.

“We made a major adjustment to her steps midway through the season, shortened her up, and she took to that right away,” Pietig said. “Four meets in a row clearing 4-10, and clearing without a miss, obviously that adjustment we made on her approach was the right thing and she responded well to it. She has been really, really close to that 5-foot mark, she’s had some great attempts at it and, for me, that would be the icing on the cake, her getting that 5-foot mark before the season is over.”

Himes will jump at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon and she and the rest of the shuttle hurdle team will close out the first day of competition at 7:40 p.m. Pietig said the stars aligned to get the shuttle hurdle team into state field with their qualifying time of 1 minute, 12.07 seconds.

“We had been telling them for over a month if they all ran their season best this would happen,” he said. “The problem was we would get two, maybe three girls run their best but someone would throw up a high split that would throw the whole relay off. It was a perfect night for them, they got after it and every single one of them had their season best, and they don’t realize there’s a big difference between an 18.8 and an 18.4.”

The Blue Oval usually drops a few more seconds for runners as well, but Pietig said the message to his girls going into their race isn’t to try and outdo themselves.

“People run faster, and people also make mistakes, especially in that shuttle hurdle,” he said. “There were a lot of mistakes around the state on Friday night at districts, so for them on Thursday, yeah we want to be faster but we also want to be clean and let other teams deal with the pressure. We are a low seed, there’s not a lot of expectations on us so let the other teams make the mistakes.”

The distance relay will be the only Marshalltown event on Friday, and it will be both the debut and farewell for a long-time Bobcat runner. Chadderdon, the only senior on the team this year, will run in the state meet for the first time in her career as one of the 200-meter legs in the distance medley.

Chadderdon’s main event is the long jump, but after three years of being just outside the cut for the state meet her final district jump didn’t go as planned.

“For basically my whole high school career I’ve been just off of going, and honestly this year was the first time where I scratched five of my six jumps, so I guess that wasn’t supposed to happen,” she said. “It was kind of more motivation because that’s what I wanted, but I had to go to state a different way.”

Pietig said the way Chadderdon compartmentalized her disappointment in her individual performance long enough to run well in the distance medley shows just what kind of leader she is.

“She really wanted that long jump and she tried but it just didn’t go well for her on that night,” Pietig said. “She responded like you would want a senior to respond on that distance medley and just absolutely nailed her leg with her split in the 200. That’s why we put her there, we have several people we could have put there but we were counting on the fact that this senior was going to run like it’s her last night, and that’s exactly what she did.”

Not only will this be the first state track appearance for Chadderdon, it’s her first state appearance in any of her four sports she’s played for Marshalltown.

“Going to state in anything is really good for these girls,” Chadderdon said. “Being the only senior, I feel like some of them might not even know how blessed they are right now going to state, just how big of an accomplishment this really is for Marshalltown girls.”

While Chadderdon will be making her first and final trip, each of the other seven qualifiers will be back next season. Pietig said this will be a wonderful way to wrap up the season and he is ready for all of the girls to have their best performances of the season.

“I am happy for them, this group of girls has all worked hard. For every single one of them, this has been a goal from day one,” he said. “Some of them it’s been a goal for several years, so from that standpoint I am really happy for them and excited to see what they do this weekend.”