Comets Josiah Cunnings and Leah Stewart win two events at WSR Coed T&F Invitational
By John Burbridge
WAVERLY — Josiah Cunnings sprinted across Waverly-Shell Rock’s football field like he was hustling through an airport to avoid missing his flight.
The Charles City junior was competing in two events — simultaneously — at the Waverly-Shell Rock Coed Track and Field Invitational, which has traditionally served as the opener for the outdoor season for several local teams including the Comets.
Cunnings was one of the few athletes still standing — or jumping — in the high jump when the bar got to 5 foot, 10 inches, but it was suddenly his turn on the runway for the long jump.
Without any warm-up run throughs, Cunnings hit his first jump at 22 feet, 4 inches, which proved to be good enough to win the event.
“I competed at the Wartburg (indoor) meet earlier this season, so this is not my first meet,” Cunnings said. “But, still, it feels good to jump outdoors again.”
Cunnings also won the high jump event at the aforementioned height.
Last year as a sophomore, Cunnings qualified for state in both the high jump and the long jump. His personal-best in the high jump is 6-3; his personal-best in the long jump is 22-7.
Last year, he accompanied University of Iowa-bound Ian Collins in both jump pits at Drake Stadium. Collins, a combined three-time state champion in the HJ (2) and LJ (1), and a Drake Relays HJ champion, graduated from Charles City last season with school records in both the HJ (6-9) and LJ (23-1 1/2).
Cunnings believes he can fly by the latter.
“It’s going to happen … it may take a while, but it’s going to happen,” he said.
Charles City sophomore thrower Leah Stewart was another two-event winner. In the girls shot put, Stewart had the top throw of 35 feet, 5 inches.
Earlier in the girls discus, Stewart bested the field with a throw of 93 feet, 11 inches.
Sophomore Xander Graeser, who is a two-time cross country state-qualifier as well as a bowling state-qualifier in his first year trying the sport, may eventually earn the distinction of qualifying for state in a third sport.
Last track season as a freshman, Graeser was a couple of strides shy of qualifying in the 800. This season that might be the event — if not any others — that gets him to the Blue Oval.
Graeser won the 800 at WSR with a time of 2:07.80 — not a personal-best, but a good time for the first outdoor meet of the season.
Charles City junior Keely Collins, who is a two-time state silver medalist in the high jump, placed second in the HJ, LJ and 100-meter hurdles.
Collins was also part of the Comets shuttle hurdle relay team also consisting of Olivia Litterer, Lauren Staudt and Teagan Cavanaugh that placed second.