ATLANTIC — The Creston boys track team qualified five events automatically to next week’s Co-ed State Track Meet, winning four events with one runner-up here Thursday at a Class 3A State Track Meet.
The top two placewinners automatically qualify to state, with the next eight best performances statewide earning at-large berths.
Qualifying for the Panthers as champions Thursday night was the 4x800 relay, the 4x400 relay, senior Brandon Phipps in the 1,600 meters and junior Jay Wolfe in the 800 meters.
Sophomore Cooper McDermott finished second to Phipps in the 1,600 meters to qualify.
But it was the 4x400 relay that had the crowd buzzing at the end of the night.
Three of the top seven 4x400 relays in the state for Class 3A found themselves in Atlantic on Thursday — Glenwood, Harlan and Creston. A fourth, Carroll, was ranked 20th.
Glenwood, Harlan and Carroll ran together in a pack throughout the first three legs of the race, with Creston trailing by about 10 meters for the majority.
When Phipps handed Wolfe the baton for the anchor leg, Wolfe trailed the pack by 10 meters.
It was at that time that Phipps yelled out, “it’s Jay Wolfe time!” Phipps wasn’t surprised by what happened next.
Wolfe ran a 50.19 anchor leg, catching the pack heading into the third turn, and slingshotting off the final curve, around the pack, barely edging Harlan for the win in 3:30.33.
Just .44 seconds separated the top four teams in the race.
“If that didn’t get your juices flowing, nothing’s ever going to get your juices flowing,” Creston head boys track coach Pat Schlapia said. “Coach (Steve) Birchard and I were talking, the way Jay ran that, we haven’t seen that since a young man named Mike Mansour. Coming off that last curve, it was a total dogfight.
“We held Jay out of the open 400, to keep him fresh. Seeing him anchor like that, that’s where the decision benefitted us. Seeing the faces on everybody after that 4x400, that moment is priceless.”
Wolfe had not ran since last Thursday’s Hawkeye 10 Conference Meet because of a knee injury. Other members of the 4x400 relay team were Bryce Briley, Maxx Walters and Phipps.
The 4x800 relay team of Briley, McDermott, Phipps and Wolfe remained undefeated outside of the Drake Relays, running 8:13.59 to qualify for state for the third straight year.
“We started the meet with our 4x800 getting gold and we ended the meet with our 4x400 getting gold,” Schlapia said. “They ran very business-like. They knew what they needed to do.”
Phipps controlled the 1,600 race from the very beginning, winning in a new season’s best time of 4:34.89. McDermott battled with Harlan’s Chris Brace for much of the race, before sprinting away from him in the final 200 meters to secure an automatic state berth.
“That’s been kind of our dynamic duo,” Schlapia said. “That was a season best by both Brandon and Cooper. That’s the first time in school history we’ve had a first and second place state qualifier in the 1,600 meter run.”
Wolfe easily won the 800 meter run yet again, running 2:00.30 to qualify for that event for the third straight year.
“He ran a very steady open 800,” Schlapia said. “The main thing was winning it and still having some recovery for the 4x400. That should be enough to get him in the fast heat.”
Briley, a junior, finished fourth in the 400 meters and will have an outside chance at earning an at-large berth in that event.
“I think the wind was really affecting things,” Schlapia said. “The winning time was 52.91. We knew if he could hold on for third or fourth place, he could still get in time-wise. Not sure if that time will get in. He still gave it a good shot.”
Competing with just 15 athletes, the Panthers accumulated 63 team points for sixth place.
“I think we did a fine job,” Schlapia said. “Our State Qualifying Meet was a state quality meet right there. A lot of individual and relays are going to make some noise up at Des Moines, us included.”
Class 3A State Qualifying Meet
Team standings — 1. Glenwood 139, 2. Carroll 114, 3. Harlan 113, 4. Greene County 91, 5. Denison-Schleswig 72, 6. Creston 63, 7. Winterset 57, 8. Atlantic 48.
Discus — 1. Alex Rasmussen, GC, 155-3; 9. Trevor Luther, Creston, 120-1; 13. Evan Nielsen, Creston, 111-11.
Shot put — 1. Alex Stenbo, Car, 48-10.25; 12. Seth Maitlen, Creston, 38-2.50; 16. Cody Tanner, Creston, 30-11.
High jump — 1. Cooper LaRue, Car, 6-0.
Long jump — 1. Colton Thompson, Car, 20-0.75.
3,200 meters — 1. Josef Rogers, Den, 10:37.68; 12. Brody Frain, Creston, 12:26.33; 13. Tyler Peters, Creston, 13:35.49.
4 x 800 relay — 1. Creston (Bryce Briley, Cooper McDermott, Brandon Phipps, Jay Wolfe), 8:13.59.
Shuttle hurdle relay — 1. Carroll, 59.89.
100 meters — 1. Roman Phillips, GC, 11.10; 6. Maxx Walters, Creston, 11.91; 10. Alex Tamerius, Creston, 12.35.
400 meters — 1. Brady Wheeler, Glen, 52.91; 4. Bryce Briley, Creston, 54.69; 10. Nick Walsh, Creston, 58.82.
4 x 200 relay — 1. Glenwood, 1:31.54; 7. Creston (Alex Tamerius, Trevor Luther, Chris Foster, Seth Maitlen), 1:41.99.
110 high hurdles — 1. Dane Kruse, Glen, 14.76.
1,600 meters — 1. Brandon Phipps, Creston, 4:34.89; 2. Cooper McDermott, Creston, 4:40.62.
200 meters — 1. Roman Phillips, GC, 22.53; 6. Maxx Walters, Creston, 24.06; 15. Chris Foster, Creston, 26.24.
400 low hurdles — 1. Isaac Rissleman, Car, 55.84; 12. Nick Walsh, Creston, 1:06.27; 13. Travis Purdy, Creston, 1:22.30.
1,600 medley relay — 1. Glenwood, 3:45.32.
800 meters — 1. Jay Wolfe, Creston, 2:00.30; 11. Nick Walsh, Creston, 2:25.67.
4 x 100 relay — 1. Greene County, 44.88; 7. Creston (Alex Tamerius, Trevor Luther, Chris Foster, Seth Maitlen), 48.96.
4 x 400 relay — 1. Creston (Bryce Briley, Maxx Walter, Brandon Phipps, Jay Wolfe), 3:30.33.