From the start of the 2016 season, it was obvious that Waukee girls’ track and field would compete at the highest level. The Warriors’ depth of talent was impressive. Their junior varsity team outshined many varsity squads.
With that in mind, it seemed strange that Waukee’s girls did not win a single event at the state meet in Des Moines this year.
However, the Warriors earned the highest honor of all over the weekend. They took home the team championship in class 4A, racking up 83 points.
Waukee did not need an individual win to prove its dominance. Instead, the Warriors scored points in 16 of 19 events and posted season-best performances in all of their relays.
According to Waukee coach Jesse Hunt, "Winning a state championship at the 4A level is always a challenge and this year was no different. The talent and depth in Iowa is at an all-time high. Our girls had to be at their best and the results reflected that."
In the 4x100-meter shuttle hurdle relay, the Warriors placed second with a time of one minute, 1.96 seconds. The impressive time ranked third all-time at state. Waukee was represented by Hannah Schau, Sydney Winger, Danielle Modrell and Mary Gray.
Winger and Schau said the group’s goal was to get a 1:01. They were able to accomplish that, and if it weren’t for Pleasant Valley breaking the state record, Waukee could have had a first-place finish.
"I think that we got our goal, and we got what we wanted," Schau said. "I’m really proud of how we improved each time."
Modrell said the large crowd at Drake Stadium "pushes you to do your best." She also said the Warriors have had fun all year. Gray echoed the sentiment.
"I think we really worked and got a lot better this year," Gray said. "I’m really proud of how far we’ve come. There’s just so much adrenaline (at state), and it’s unlike anything else. I love running here. I love running with these girls."
Waukee finished second in the 4x800-meter relay. Logan Akason, Maggie Laird, Rachel Brush and Lily Campbell combined for a time of 9:17.24.
The Warriors picked up another second place finish in the distance medley relay with help from Emily McKibben, Elma Vojic, Taylor Gates and Akason. At 4:05.25, they finished right behind Ankeny Centennial.
Campbell and Akason both fared well in the 800-meter run. Campbell finished fourth, and Akason finished sixth with times of 2:15.34 and 2:15.46, respectively.
In the sprint medley relay, Waukee took fourth with a time of 1:46.38 behind the group of Maddie Sehman, Schau, Vojic and Campbell.
Waukee’s consistency in the relays continued in the 4x100-meter and 4x200-meter. In the 4x100, Sehman, Schau, Vojic and Shaye Witte finished third at 48.35. In the 4x200, Sehman, Talia Buss, Witte and Vojic took second with a mark of 1:41.01.
Buss, who is set to compete at the University of Iowa next year, finished fourth in the 100-meter dash. Her time was 12.14. She also took fourth in the 200-meter dash with a mark of 25.19.
Brush recorded a seventh-place finish in the 3000-meter run with a time of 10:26.90. The senior also finished seventh in the 1500-meter run, coming in at 4:45.88.
Waukee had two finalists in the 100-meter hurdles. Schau came in at 15.02 for fifth, and Winger recorded a 15.20 for eighth. Gray finished in the top-five in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:05.39.
Junior Morgan Nealey finished sixth in the shot put. She recorded a distance of 40-06.75. Kat Moody also notched a top-10 finish in the shot put with a distance of 38-06.25.
In the discus throw, Nealey took seventh, and Lindy Jones finished 11th.
Jessica Kramer and Chloe Havermann competed in the high jump. Both Kramer and Havermann cleared the bar at four feet, 11 inches on their first attempt. They were unable to get over the 5-01 height and finished tied for 16th.
Hunt said Waukee will miss its seniors, but they have set a great example of what it takes to be successful.
"It takes a team united in purpose; for each person, each day, to improve and embrace challenges together," Hunt said.
By the end of Saturday, the tallied points favored the Warriors. Waukee’s girls won their first championship since 2013.