DES MOINES — One day down and two to go at the blue oval in Des Moines. After a full day of track and field action, the Mt. Pleasant boys are turning heads with a Class 3A-leading 21 points.
The Panthers had four point-scorers on the day including two second-place finishes, which gave them a head start in what promises to be a tough Class 3A race.
Panther senior Cody Mertens looked good in the 3200-meter run. The Class 3A cross-country champion added to his career medal count with a second-place finish in the distance run, crossing the tape in 9:44.07. Mertens was defeated by Trey Engen of Algona, who finished in 9:34.96, and finished just over a second ahead of Humboldt’s Quinton Orr, who placed third in 9:45.59.
“I first of all want to thank God for being healthy and being able to run for four years at this place is spectacular,” Mertens said after the race. “I told myself first or 24th, I have to thank Him for everything.”
Mertens credited Engen for an “amazing kick” at the end of the race, and said the most important part of his result was helping the Panthers out as a team.
“Second is a pretty good place, but the biggest thing is eight team points,” Mertens said. “That’s what I’m really stoked about. It goes team and then my place. That’s the big deal for us right now. It’s all about the team.”
Sam Beatty tied for second in the high jump, matching his season best at 6-07. Fairfield’s Landon Kooiker also finished at 6-07, but had less misses. Beatty tied with Ian Collins of Charles City, earning him seven pionts on the day.
“I’m happy with how I did,” Beatty said. “I have been working really hard on this ever since sophomore year. It has been a grind but I’ve enjoyed it.”
Beatty ends his jumping career with a the Mt. Pleasant school record at 6-07.
“It is definitely cool to have the school record, but I owe it to my coaches and my teammates for supporting me,” Beatty said. “Without them, I wouldn’t even be close to 6-07.”
Those weren’t the only points from the field for the Panther boys. Zach Beason, who has been battling an achhilles injury for the past few weeks, threw a 158-06 in the discus to finish fifth place, and score four points.
“We’re just blessed to have the oppourtnity to be here today, to be honest,” Beason said after the competition. “I would like to have given them a little more. I was hoping for first or second, but it feels nice to give them at least something.”
The final points of the day came from the boys’ 4X800 team. The squad of Brody Bender, Dalton Moyle, Mertens and Jacob Stukerjurgen finished the race in 8:11.40, for seventh place, and two points.
“We went up in placing,” Stukerjurgen said after his anchor leg. “As many points as we can do for the team. That’s all we can do.”
The Mt. Pleasant girls scored five points on the day, all coming from Abby Ryon. Ryon placed for the first time at state track, taking fourth in the 3000-meter run, in 10:47.21.
“I finally placed at a state meet,” Ryon said. “That was my goal coming into today, and I definitely hit that.”
New London’s Lexi Brown scored all four points for the area’s small schools on Thursday. Brown took fifth in the Class 1A 3000, finishing the race in 11:12.25 to put the Tigers on the board. “It was hot and my feet were dying,” says Brown, who ran in the scorching hot evening session. “I’m so glad they had water in that corner.”
A few area preliminaries set up for even more potential points this weekend. The Mt. Pleasant boys’ shuttle hurdle team not only qualified with their time of 1:01.02, but finished fourth place, which puts them in the fast heat on Saturday.
Winfield-Mt. Union’s Brandon Snowden had a great day in the sprints. Snowden began his day by qualifying for the 200-meter dash final with a final time of 22.68 seconds, and then broke the school record in the 100-meter dash final, crossing in 11.10 seconds, which was good enough for a first overall finish.
Among Mt. Pleasant athletes who didn’t place or qualify in their events were the girls’ shuttle hurdle squad, Alyssa Striegel in the discus, and the girls’ 4X800 team. Other small school runners and relays who competed were W-MU’s Anna Hudson in the shot put, the WACO boys’ shuttle hurdle relay team, and both W-MU’s Juanito Piper and New London’s Keontae Luckett in the 200-meter dash.
Full results from state track weekend will be in Monday’s edition of The News.