Panthers start season strong at home meet
The Mt. Pleasant girls’ track and field team placed first in five events and the Panther boys’ team won four events at their season-opening home meet on Thursday night at Mapleleaf Athletic Complex.
“There was good competition last night — many state meet qualifiers and placewinners,” Mt. Pleasant Girls’ Coach Dave Hutchcroft said.
Both Panther teams held up well against the tough competition, however.
“Overall, the whole coaching staff is extremely pleased with what went on last night,” Mt. Pleasant Boys’ Coach Scot Lamm said.
The Panther girls’ team got their first win on the track in just the third race on the night, placing first in the 4x800-meter relay. The team of Natalie Ita, Taryne Shull, Natalie Myers and Chloe Haffarnan finished in a time of 10:06.63.
“The 4x800 relay cut over seven seconds off its season best with Chloe (Haffarnan) anchoring in an outstanding 2:23,” Hutchcroft said. “For this being the first outdoor meet for everyone, there were some outstanding times.”
Haffarnan ran another good half mile later in the night, winning the open 800 with a time of 2:24.84.
In the 100-meter hurdles, Leslie Taylor crossed the line first in a time of 15.99 seconds. She also led off the winning shuttle-hurdle relay team, followed by Sidney Taylor, Hannah Becker and Amy Buckert. They finished in 1:08.30.
“Despite hitting many hurdles, the shuttle hurdle time was pretty good,” Hutchcroft said. “Amy Buckert was a last-second replacement for Kelsi Phipps, who pulled a quad warming up for the long jump.”
Buckert anchored the shuttle hurdle, and then turned around and ran the first heat of the 100-meter dash, the very next race.
The Panthers also got a win in the field events, as Mary Wester threw at 38-10 1/2 to take the shot put title. She is now within 4 1/2 inches of the 25-year-old shot put record at Mt. Pleasant.
Two of the boys’ first place finishes came in the field events, both from Emmett Wester.
The senior thrower won the shot put with a throw of 55-6 3/4, and took the discus title with a throw of 139-6 3/4.
The Panthers’ Justin Dunn was not far behind in either event, placing second in the shot put with a throw of 52-4 1/2 and third in the discus at 127-4.
“Our field events were really good last night,” Lamm said. “For both of those guys (Wester and Dunn), their performances definitely got them into Drake (Relays). It’s a great start to the outdoor season — Wester has the top (shot put) throw in the state right now.”
On the track, one of Mt. Pleasant’s first-place finishes came from Tommy Thorne in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 15.49 seconds.
Thorne was also part of the winning boys’ shuttle hurdle relay team, along with Cole Phillips, Spencer White and Zach Mulford. They finished in 1:00.13.
That time is three seconds faster than the eventual state champions ran at this time last year.
“Thorne had an exceptional night, anchoring the shuttle hurdle that probably ran a Drake-qualifying time,” Lamm said. “Then he came back to win the 110 highs, before taking second to the defending state champ in the 400 lows.
“He possibly qualified for Drake in all three events,” the coach estimated. “That’s unheard of.”
Thorne finished the 400-meter low hurdles in a time of 55.74 seconds, less than one second behind Ft. Madison’s Raheem Black. Black won the event with a time of 55.04.
The Panther boys also got a second-place finish from Logan Mulford in the high jump at 6-1.
“He is only four inches off the school record,” Lamm said.
Taking third place for Mt. Pleasant was the 4x800 team of Drew Perry, Clayle Franklin, Ian Franzen and Kolby Raymond in a time of 9:07.44.
“The 4x800 is really coming along,” Lamm said. “And in the 4x400, we found some kids that can definitely help us.”
He names first-time 400 runners Trey Magnani, who placed fourth in the open 400 (55.96 seconds) and Spencer White, who was part of the fourth-place 4x400-meter relay (3:47.61), as examples of runners who stepped up.
The Panthers hope to add a couple more athletes who can step up to fill some spots in upcoming meets. Those athletes are Cameron Frank and Faith Pope — both are considering joining the team.
“They’re two of the best athletes at the school, and they’re potential sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers,” Lamm said. “I hope it works out.”
On the girls’ side of the meet, the Panthers had a couple second- and third-place finishers as well.
The distance medley team of Tasha Vancil, Laura Hult, Grace Lutovsky and Elaina Conrad finished second with a time of 4:41.55.
They also had some second-place finishers in the field events — Taylor was the runner-up in long jump at 16-7 3/4. Wester took the silver in discus with a throw of 109-4 1/2, and Elinor Krieger-Coble’s throw of 35-1 earned her a second place finish in the shot put.
“Field events were once again very strong with Leslie Taylor going a season-best 16-7 in long jump, and Mary Wester and Elinor Krieger-Coble both throwing personal records in the shot.”
Finishing in third place was Hannah Becker in the 100 hurdles, and both Becker and Lutovsky placed third in the high jump at 5-0.
The Panthers will compete again Tuesday. The boys go to Burlington and the girls go to the Iowa City West Relays.