CEDAR FALLS After a pair of indoor meets and one left to complete the track and field preseason, South Tama County boys' coach George Kuhter is happy with the progress of his squad.
During the past week, the STC boys' team has competed at Central College in Pella and the University of Northern Iowa. Both were big meets filled with numerous larger schools, but the Trojans left both with top performances.
"We're looking to get our times down a bit more respectable," Kuhter said. "We have two weeks from tonight until we go outdoors, so it's got to be there. We'll do the best we can with the next week and a half."
1South Tama senior Kyle Stephenson, center, finishes the 60-meter dash Tuesday at the Dickinson Relays at the UNI-Dome. Stephenson ran the race in a time of 7.32 and finished seventh in a large field.
On Tuesday, the Trojans traveled to UNI-Dome for the Dickinson Relays. They had two top-eight performances at the large meet. Senior Kyle Stephenson was the lone individual to finish in the top eight. Stephenson placed seventh in the 55-meter dash wth a time of 7.32 seconds.
South Tama's leading performance came from the 4x200-meter relay squad. The STC 4x200 relay, which was one of the top returning races for the Trojans from last year's state meet, finished fifth in a time of 1:35.69. The relay members were Stephenson, junior Dylan Kalinay, senior Sam Kuhter and senior Kaleb Davenport.
"Fifth overall running against all of these big 4A schools is a big deal," Kuhter said. "We'll take it, but we do have to realize that we have a lot of big, fast schools that we're going to have to go up against. This was good experience for us."
The Trojans had several other good performances Tuesday. Sophomore Grant Koch jumped well in the high jump. Koch cleared 5-foot-8 and tied for 10th place after nearly clearing 5-10. Fellow sophomore Ian Slagle finished 24th in the shot put, throwing 42-2.
South Tama's sprinters also competed well the UNI-Dome. In the 55-meter dash, Tyler and Bo Blocker placed 51st and 55th as they ran 7.62 and 7.65, respectively. A trio of Trojans competed in the 200-meter dash. They were Stephenson (25th, 24.83), Zach Morris (39th, 25.15) and Sam Kuhter (49th, 25.48).
In the 400-meter dash, Kaleb Davenport led the way. His time of 55.93 placed him 41st. Bidwell and Robert Tyynismaa also ran the event and placed 53rd and 76th, running 56.73 and 58.41.
Clay Waterbury led the Trojans in the 800-meter run. Waterbury placed 28th as he ran 2:12.35. Tyler Martens also competed, running a 2:17.91 and finishing 55th. In the 60-meter hurdles, Dylan Kalinay was two spots from making the finals. He placed 18th with his time of 9.08. Bidwell also ran the hudles and pladed 25th, running a time 10.12.
"Kyle had a really busy half an hour," Kuhter said. "I'm really happy with Kaleb and Daryl. The sprinter guys did well. They're easier to deal with, because they have to get faster, but they're not going to get that much faster. We're looking for a lot of improvement from our distance guys in the next couple of weeks."
"We saw what we were looking for today," Kuhter said. "It's a different story with the 4x800 with Brady (Ellenbecker) healthy. I'm not going to complain about anything. I threw Blake (Keller) into the fire and he performed the best he could, considering he's just a distance guy and he hasn't done a whole lot of conditioning and speed work. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way things went."
Last Friday, the Trojans traveled to Pella to compete at a large meet. It was their first meet of the season after practicing indoors for weeks. After many heats in every event and a few top performances, the Trojans coach was once again happy with his team's effort.
"Overall, you have to take it with a grain of salt, because it's a long day for the kids," Kuhter said. "We had some kids run well and we had some things that I was disappointed in, but overall I think it was a pretty good start."
South Tama's top finish on Friday was senior Brady Ellenbecker in the 1,600-meter run. Ellenbecker ran among the top three during the race before narrowly being edged out at the finish. He placed runner-up in a time of 4:45.99. The winner from Iowa City ran a 4:42.89. Ellenbecker later placed ninth in the 800 in a time of 2:11.78.
"He still has a lot to do," Kuhter said. "We just needed a place to start. He ran a good race and he was in the top three the whole way. He just came up a hair short against a kid who ran extremely well."
STC's pair of long jumpers also did well on Friday. Sam Kuhter jumped 19-9.5 and finished seventh, while Stephenson set a mark of 19-5 and placed 10th. Slagle continued the Trojans' field event success. He set a mark of 44-0 in the shot put and placed 14th. Koch and Morris tied for 11th in the high jump as they cleared 5-6.
Davenport placed ninth in the 55-meter dash. He ran a time of 6.52. He also finished fifth in the 400, running 54.19, and ninth in the 200 in a time of 23.98. The Trojans 4x200 relay was narrowly edged out for the victory. They ran a 1:35.53 in the first heat. Albia ran a 1:35.44 in the second heat to take first.
"Brady running well in the 1,600 was good," Kuhter said. "He just ran out of gas in the 800. The sprinters ran well. Dylan and all of the hurdlers ran well. It was just a learning experience to get out and compete. Sam jumped well. Kyle didn't jump great, but we jumped well. Any time you get over 19 feet this early, especially if you haven't hit a long jump pit, you're in great shape."
South Tama will compete in its final indoor track and field meet today. STC will travel to Waverly for the North Iowa Cedar League co-ed meet. It begins at 3 p.m.
"We'll see what happens Friday," Kuhter said. "We'll take a big squad up there, but we're not going in with a lot of high expectations. I still have to figure out what I'm going to do, but once I do that, we'll be fine."