State Track Qualifiers

Pekin’s Brady McWhirter qualified an individual in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs

HLV’s (Tri-County) Aaliyah Cooper heads back to the Blue Oval, where she qualified for the 400 meters hurdles in 2023 as well
Sean Strohmayer
The News-Review

SIGOURNEY/BROOKLYN—On May 9, the State of Iowa held their 2024 State Qualifying Meets for Class 1A. The Sigourney Savages hosted the Keota Eagles and Pekin Panthers, while the English Valleys Bears and HLV Warriors head to BGM high school.

The Sigourney Savages had two individual qualifiers: Reagan Clarahan in the 400 hurdles and McKinley Chittick in the high jump. These names may look familiar because they were both state qualifiers in the 2023 for the same events.

Reagan Clarahan secured her spot at the state meet in the 400 hurdles with a time of 1:09.47.

McKinley Chittick earned her high jump qualification with a jump recorded at 4-10.

When asked about returning to the Blue Oval a year later, Reagan Clarahan responded with, “It’s a really good feeling. Last year I was the district champion, so this year it was harder because I didn’t know for sure right away. It is a really good feeling to know that you will be back, and to do it again. The state track experience is something else. The atmosphere is insane.”

McKinley Chittick’s response to the same question was, “I was super excited when I found out (that I qualified) because I have been in a boot for a month and that was my second meet jumping. I am just super excited to go.”

Chittick went on to further elaborate on her mental fortitude during her time recovering from injury with, “I was practicing and I was nervous because I couldn’t get over 4-6. I just kept trying and practicing, and I think the adrenaline kicked in during the meet because I started clearing everything. I just kept doing the best I could to get there.”

Clarahan had some mental hurdles to jump as well as the physical ones because it had been raining for a couple of hours prior to her race. When asked about retaining that focus on achieving her goal, Clarahan responded with, “I ran the 4x200, and it was really bad. I was the last leg so it was hitting my eyes. When I was warming up, I was a little nervous. I had a rain suit on all night, and finally gave in. I knew I was going to be wet, it’s going to be what happens. I was lucky enough that right before I ran, the rain stopped, so that was really nice. My shoes and socks were soaked, but the event I wanted to stop raining, it did.”

One of the best parts of the State Track Meet is the plethora of family, friends and the local community showing these athletes, whether it be cheering in person, or making a custom sign to wish them luck as they head to Des Moines. 

McKinley Chittick spoke on what it means to have this kind of community support with, “It is amazing. It gives me butterflies whenever I see my family in the stands, or all the signs out here for Reagan and myself. It is just amazing.”

Reagan Clarahan shared a similar sentiment with, “Yeah, when you are there, it has that feeling like state wrestling has. It is like a good gut wrenching feeling. Everywhere you look is emotional because the support is insane.”

The Pekin girls qualified four relay events: the 4x800, the shuttle hurdles, the 4x400 and the distance medley. 

The 4x400 team, consisting of Audrey Fariss, Krysta Sheetz, Alex Parsons and Chloe Glosser, finished their race in first place with a time of 10:10.24.

After the race, the team was asked about their emotions of qualifying for the state meet. 

Alex Parson responded with, “I am just ecstatic to return with three returners and Krysta (Sheetz), who has done amazing this year stepping up and doing 800s.”

Audrey Fariss responded jubilantly with, “I’m elated to go back with these girls. It is amazing to get one last run. It’s like your hard work all pays off.”

Krysta Sheetz, who was the new addition to the 4x800, spoke on her experience with, “I have never been to state before, and I am so excited to go with these girls. I really didn’t expect to run 800s this year because I only ran 400s.” 

Lastly, the anchor leg of the 4x800, Chloe Glosser, described her elation with, “I am super happy to head back for a second time. We know what we can do, and we are excited to show everyone what we can do. This is only the start of what we are going to do tonight.”

Glosser was correct, as the Panthers went on to qualify for three more relays after this event.

The shuttle hurdles team made up of  Reece Brisby, Paislee Coleman, Abby Guise and Kayse Miller secured their spot in the state meet with a time of 1:12.03.

The 4x400 team qualified with a time of 4:19.88. The 4x400 team is made up of Audrey Fariss, Krysta Sheetz, Renae Eubanks and Chloe Glosser

Lastly for the Pekin girls relay teams, the Distance Medley relay team earned their spot in Des Moines with a time of 4:28.86. The Distance Medley team is made up of Lauren Conklin, Krysta Sheetz, Audrey Fariss and Chloe Glosser

For individuals for the Panthers girls’ team, Chloe Glosser earned a district championship in the 1500 with a time of 5:08.15. 

Anna Hadley continued to shine in the field events with qualifications in the discus and  shot-put events. 

“It feels pretty good because it shows I could do more than I thought I could do early in the season. It just feels good that I can step up to the challenge,” described Hadley when asked about the sense of accomplishment that comes with qualifying for both the shot and discus events.

Hadley spoke on defending her state title as the 2023 Class 1A discus champion with, “I am going to try, but I know there is some tough competition this year. I am going to work as hard as I can going up to state. Just pray over it, and hope things go well.”

For the Pekin boys, the 4x400, consisting of Will Adam, Nolan Glick, Brady McWhirter and JaeDon Wolver secured a spot with a time of  3:30.58.

The boys Shuttle Hurdle also qualified with a time of 1:04.48. The Pekin shuttle hurdle team is made up of Henry Adam, Will Adam, Alijah Brock and JaeDon Wolver. 

For individuals for the boys, Brady Mc Whirter qualified for the 1600 and the 3200. After the two mile run, McWhirter spoke on securing his spot with, “It feels pretty good. I knew coming into this it would be me vs me. It was just about running smart.”

When asked about goals for the upcoming state meet, McWhirter responded with, “The ultimate goal is to stand on the podium. I also want to break the school record of 10:41 (for the 3200 run). I ran 10:55 with some of the best kids in 2A, so I am confident that I can get it.”

JaeDon Wolver also secured an individual spot at the 2024 state meet, as he qualified for the 400 hurdles with a time of 56.51.

The English Valleys Boys Distance Medley made up of Ben Coffman, Deshone Anderson, Myles Grove and Gage Heyne earned a district title with a time of 3:42.58, which was the seventh fastest in 1A. 

When asked about qualifying for the state meet, Myles Grove spoke about heading back to the state meet with, “It is exciting. Going to state is a great achievement for anybody. You get a good atmosphere when you get to head up with your friends in the relay team.”

Ben Coffman, who qualified for his first time, spoke on his experience with, “It is pretty surreal. Huge thanks to the other three boys. We thought we would make it, but we didn’t think we would win it. It is pretty crazy that we won it.”

Sophomore Deshone Anderson spoke on his reaction to qualifying for the state meet for the first time with, “It feels pretty good. I was pretty excited. I didn’t have much time to celebrate, but it felt pretty good.”

It was a rainy night in Brooklyn for the Bears, and there were many delays that could’ve been a distraction. When asked about keeping the focus, junior Gage Heyne responded with, “I have dealt with rain before, and will deal with it again. Running year round, you run in all the rain conditions. You just have to block it out and do your run.”

Heyne, a state qualifier for the 1600 and 3200 last year, displayed that mentality throughout the night, as he qualified for the the 800, 1600 and 3200 runs as an individual on top of being the anchor for the distance medley team. 

English Valleys Ava Gehrking was able to secure her spot in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes as a freshman. Fellow Freshman Addison Achenbach also secured her spot in the Blue Oval in the 3000 meter run.

Gehrking spoke on securing her spot with, “It is exciting. It was expected, not totally expected. It wasn’t easy, and it felt good to do.”

Achenbach shared a similar sentiment with, “Yeah it was not easy. It feels really good to know we are freshmen and our careers are just starting.”

Gehrking went on to describe her mentality during the madness of the weather delays as, “You just have to take some deep breaths and calm yourself down.”

Senior Kennedy Axmear will make the familiar trip to the Blue Oval in Des Moines, as she qualified for both the discus and shot-put events.

Axmear spoke on the sense of accomplishment for qualifying for both shot-put and discus with, “It feels really good. Last year, I didn’t care too much about shot-put, so it really wasn’t on the radar. It is honestly a lot of fun that I qualified for both. I get to participate in multiple events. Obviously it is fun to watch my teammates, but there is something special about competing.”

Axmear was the 2022 Drake Relays champion, and has been the second place finisher in the Class 1A discus events the past two years. Her goal for this year is, “I am trying to win. That has been the goal every year. We’ll see what happens.”

When asked about the support she received from her friends, family and the community during Drake, and how that might affect her state performance, Axmear responded with, “It means so much to me. At Drake they were all in the front row, and I could see them after they threw. It felt loving because I knew they were there for me.”

The relay team of Emery Hall, Ayla Hall, Lily Randall and Aaliyah Cooper, all four are Tri-County students, qualified in the 4x400 and the distance medley for the HLV Warriors.

Emery Hall also qualified for the 800 meter run with a time of 2:31.24. 

Aaliyah Cooper once again secured her spot in the 400 hurdle event at the state meet, as she was a qualifier for the same event in 2023.



The News-Review

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