Comets make leaps to state, end SQ on high note
By John Burbridge
DECORAH — When Charles City senior Ian Collins cleared the high jump bar at 6 feet, 8 inches — setting a stadium record at Decorah High School during Thursday’s Class 3A Track and Field State Qualifier — sophomore teammate Josiah Cunnings remarked in earshot “Taught him everything he knows.”
No one took him seriously, though by the way a flock of Comets took flight with low-obit passages en route to next week’s state meet, they apparently take jumping very seriously at Charles City.
“They’re just so competitive,” Charles City assistant track coach Eric Hoefer said of his two star jumpers.
Earlier in the long jump, Collins “jumped out” ahead of the field with a leap of 22 feet, 9 inches — about 4 inches shy of his school record. Cunnings followed with a personal-best leap of 22 feet, 4 inches as the pair finished 1-2 in the event, qualifying for next week’s State T&F Championships.
Collins and Cunnings also finished 1-2 respectively in the high jump with Cunnings’ top clear of 6 feet even good enough for second place.
Collins will defend both of his Class 3A boys state titles in the HJ and LJ. Last year at state, he set a school record with a top clear of 6 feet, 9 inches in the high jump. He nearly bested that on Thursday as his first attempt at 6 feet, 10 inches nearly succeeded.
The boys are not the only ones who have wings at Charles City. Keely Collins, sophomore sister of Ian, won the girls high jump at Thursday SQ with a top height of 5 feet, 4 inches. Keely, who recently placed third in the Girls High Jump at the Drake Relays last month, later qualified in the 100-meter high hurdles with a second place finish of 16.83 — a personal-best — bested only by Juliette Weber (16.64) of West Delaware.
Charles City senior Lydia Staudt, who placed sixth in the Class 3A girls long jump at state last year, earned another ticket to Des Moines for the same event with a second-place leap of 17 feet, ½ inch at the SQ. Ava Maloney of Center Point-Urbana won the event (17 feet, 7 inches).
The jumping events took place early in the meet. But for several of Charles City’s state-bound jumpers, the meet was far from over — especially in the case of Collins and Cunnings, who helped the Comets leave Decorah on a high note.
In the second-to-last event of the day/evening — the boys 4-by-100 relay — the Charles City foursome of Jakob Sindlinger, Jalil Jones, Cunnings and Mario Hoefer qualified with a squad-season-best time of 44.38 seconds, bettered only by Western Dubuque.
You felt good for Jones and Hoefer as they were earlier on the Comets’ 4-by-200 relay team that initially placed second with Cunnings and Collins as part of the foursome, but was denied a state berth by way of disqualification due to an exchange infraction.
In the meet’s final event, the boys 4-by-400 relays, the Comets pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
With Comet senior Griffin Franksain running a strong third leg, he passed the baton to Collins with Western Dubuque’s Dylan Schroeder only having a 3-yard advantage. Collins eventually passed him 150 yards into the final leg and kept him in the rear-view mirror all the way to the finish.
With Malcolm Lopez and Jacob Vais running the first two legs, the all-senior Comet foursome recorded a season-best first-place time of 3:26.54.
Even n the Glengarry Glen Ross nature of SQ track — first place, new car; second place, new steak knives; third place … you’re fired … or more like your season is over, there is still a chance for competitors finishing outside of the top depending on how they stack up against other non-automatic qualifiers from other SQ meets for at-large bids.
Charles City’s two-time state and Drake Relays qualifier Tino Tamayo will likely not make the cut in his main event — the discus — but with a personal-best throw of 53 feet, 6 inches in the shot put, his third-place effort might have a chance.
Charles City’s 800 boys sprint relay team of Sindlinger, Jones, Hoefer and Vais — which got under 1:37 while placing third in a very competitive race — may also be in the running for an at-large bid.