Boys and girls state-qualifying track and field action took place in Van Meter on Thursday, May 12. The Bulldogs’ boys took fourth place with 68 points, and the girls finished seventh with 54.
In total, VM qualified for eight events at state, which takes place May 19-21 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Freshman Meagan Blomgren provided highlights on the girls’ side. She finished third in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, with times of 13.03 and 27.23 seconds, respectively. She will run both events at state.
Blomgren also notched a third-place finish in the long jump. She leapt 16 feet, 11.25 inches, which was enough for another state qualifier.
For the VM boys, Jack Trudo finished fourth in the 3200-meter run. He qualified for state with a time of 10:24.70.
The Bulldogs performed well in three of the relays on Thursday. In the 4x100-meter relay, the group of Zach Forret, Carson Rhodes, Anthony Lowman and Jake Koch took second place with a time of 45.13.
VM took home first-place finishes in both the 4x200-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay. Forret, Rhodes, Lowman and Koch combined for 1:33.73 in the 4x200.
The Bulldogs had trouble with the final handoff but were able to overcome the misstep. Koch said he adjusted by slowing down a little and looking at the baton. Once he got it, the VM senior knew he had to give it everything because the competition was right behind him.
In the 4x400, Forret, Cameron Smolik, Alec Potthoff and Koch finished with a time of 3:32.49. The Bulldogs will run the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 at state.
Koch hopes for strong performances at state, but getting there is an accomplishment in itself. He said it was the result of working hard every day and running "as fast as you can."
"We got to state," Koch said. "That’s what we’ve wanted to do the whole time."
Sophomore Connor Guess will also represent VM at state in 2016. He finished second in the shot put with a distance of 48-05.50. Guess topped his personal best for the season by two inches at the state-qualifying meet.
There were other solid showings from VM athletes who didn’t qualify. Luke Costlow, Owen Jones, Noah Hale and Sam Thompson finished fourth in the 4x110-meter shuttle hurdle relay with a time of 1:03.84.
Thompson said the group did well, considering the injury problems that have persisted this season.
"We all work hard," Thompson said. "We all believe in each other, and we push each other well."
The VM girls have developed strong relationships over the course of the season, too. Sophomore Aubrey Artzer said the team is like a laid-back friendship, and getting along comes easy for the group. Freshman Emma Davis, who finished fifth in the 100-meter hurdles, agreed.
"I think as a team we’ve improved, and we became better friends," Davis said.
The Bulldogs picked up a third-place finish in the 800-meter sprint medley relay. Mackenzie Blomgren, Dion Shirley, Bailey Richards and Meagan Blomgren combined for a time of 1:57.52.
VM also placed third in the distance medley. The team of Leah Jimmerson, Emily Roberts, Gwen Boston and Ashtyn Fiala finished the race in 4:52.43.
The end of track and field season is quickly approaching, and the state meet at Drake is shaping up to be action-packed. VM’s qualifiers will have to bring their A-games to stand a chance against the top competition across Iowa.