Cripps, boys 4×200 earn medals for West Marshall

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - West Marshall senior Jake Tollefson, right, delivers the handoff to junior Brian Morrison during the Class 2A 4x200 on day two of the Iowa Co-Ed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium on Friday. The Trojans earned a medal by placing eighth in the event.

DES MOINES — Midway through this season, West Marshall senior Kayla Cripps had never run a 400-meter hurdle race competitively.

On Friday she took sixth place in the Class 2A race at the Iowa Co-Ed State Track and Field Championships.

“I was not expecting that,” Cripps said of her accomplishment.

Cripps finished with a time of 1 minute, 6.99 seconds to finish fifth in the fast heat of the 2A 400 hurdles and sixth overall, only her second sub-1:07 of her career and in only her fifth competitive time running the race.

“I’m not very experienced in how to run it, I just started, so that was kind of difficult for me but I pushed through and I got better than what I thought when I asked coach, ‘hey, can I try the 400 hurdles?'” she said.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

To add to the difficulty, Cripps ran on a completely soaked track and through a steady rain, and she was in the first lane of a track that slopes inward.

“Lane one was puddled with most of the water, so first of all I was nervous about that but I tried to make it one hurdle at a time and make it through the whole race,” she said.

What helped Cripps continue climbing all the way to sixth place, she said, was the fact that she was running alongside the likes of East Marshall’s Melinda Puumala and Unity Christian’s Mikayla Turek, who finished second and first, respectively.

“That helped and running against Melinda and [fourth-place finisher Taylor Kvale from Dike-New Hartford] at districts, that gave me the experience of what it was going to be like,” she said.

Cripps also competed in the high jump, but she had little to no warm-up time for her jumps that came immediately after the 400 hurdles. She still cleared by 4 feet, 8 inches, and 4-10, but she still finished tied for 14th in an event that she also had never done before this season.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Cripps and the girls distance medley team of Adisyn Young, Avril Sinning and Grace Girard started the day by placing 20th with a time of 4:28.89.

Friday was her final time competing for West Marshall on the track, and she said she is going out with her head held high.

“After four years I am pretty proud of what I’ve done in my track career,” the multi-time state placewinner and school record holder said.

The Trojan boys earned their first state placing of the meet with the 4×200 team of Jake Tollefson, Brian Morrison, Jarrin Goecke and Cameron Bannister running a time of 1:31.87 to finish in eighth. The boys took second in the second heat and had the third-fastest time in the first two races, but they had to wait and see where they placed after the third heat.

When it popped up that they had taken eighth, the celebrations began.

“It was pretty exciting because coming in I didn’t think we were going to place,” Morrison said. “We were seeded 15th and we had a rough year with that race, so I was not expecting that. It’s a great feeling because now that sets the tone for the rest of the meet.”

Tollefson, who runs the opening leg, said after his first 200 and a clean handoff in the rain he knew they were in for a good time.

“I feel like I got out pretty quick. All of us ran super great legs today, from where we started this year I am super proud of these guys,” he said. “With Cameron getting hurt at the beginning of the year to Brian not feeling good all year and Jarrin stepping in for people he needed to step in for, I am pretty proud of this group of guys.”

Goecke was the latest addition to the relay and he was the only one who had never competed at Drake Stadium, but he said everything went smoothly except for the rain.

“This morning was a little shaky due to the weather, but we all made it work,” he said. “We’ve been working hard all season so it’s a nice payoff.”

Bannister, who suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him until the last few meets of the year, said this was a great result and it should set them up for a good showing in the sprint medley, in which the Trojans are seeded second for today’s final.

“It gives us a lot of confidence and belief that we can get it done tomorrow and bring home the championship. If everybody just does their job I think we will be just fine,” Bannister said.

The same group ran the 4×400 as well and finished in 20th with a 3:31.7.