Winning the Dubuque County Championships 10 days ago seemed to spark the Dubuque Senior track and field team.
They are clicking at just the right time.
The Rams placed second in the Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Divisional Championships on Thursday at Dalzell Field with 148 points, behind only Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s 153.
Iowa City West placed third with 144.5, followed by Hempstead in fourth with 94. Cedar Rapids Jefferson (66.5) came in fifth, Cedar Rapids Xavier (66) in sixth, followed by Waterloo West (42) and Waterloo East (13).
Senior started the meet off with a bang in the sprint medley relay. The team of Jack Smith, Jack Aitchison, Matthew Kruse and Cain McWilliams took gold in 1:37.50.
McWilliams, who ran anchor, knew it was a sign of good things to come.
“Coach talked about how we needed to get off to a better start at the beginning of the meets,” he said. “We just wanted to come out strong right away so we could get on top and get a lead and set us up for the rest of the way.”
McWilliams book-ended the opening victory with a gold medal in the meet’s final race. The Rams quartet of Aitchison, McWilliams, Easton Stackis and Matthew Kruse claimed first place in 3:27.44, narrowly edging Hempstead.
“We are always focusing on improving for the next meet,” McWilliams said. “We’re just trying to get better everyday so that when we arrive for state, we can make a name for ourselves.”
Three more Rams carried over momentum from wins in the County Championships into gold medals on Thursday. Sam Akins (22-11 ¼) won the long jump, Logan Flanagan (6-2) the high jump, and Kruse continued his dominance in the 400-meter dash with a winning time of 49.76.
David Williams ran his personal best time in the 100-meter dash of 11.12, but was narrowly edged out by Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Drew Bartles’ time of 11.04.
“It’s a type of feeling I have never felt,” Williams said. “I’m right up there with the top times now. It’s just a blissful feeling.”
Hempstead claimed a gold early in the meet in the 4x800. Mason Suarez, George Holesinger, Owen Maloney and Derek Leicht breezed to the title in 8:11.43, 15 seconds better than runner-up Cedar Rapids Xavier.
Maloney, who ran the third leg, said it was nice to put points on the board early.
“It’s always nice to come out here and get a win; it’s a nice confidence booster,” Maloney said.
After taking first in the 4x800, Maloney knew his job was not done for the night.
“It’s nice to be able to enjoy it for a little bit, but you have to forget about it and put it in the back of your mind and go get the next one.”
That mindset paid off for Maloney, as he claimed gold in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:29.21.
The Mustangs’ third title of the night came in the 800-meter with a 1-2 punch of Leicht and Holesinger. Liecht took gold with a time of 1:58.32, with Holesinger crossing the line in second in 2:03.58.
Hempstead also saw strong showings in the 3,200 with Ryan Winger placing second in 9:40.37 and Josh Davis third in 9:56.07.
Hempstead coach Mark Ressler feels Thursday’s meet was a good primer for the upcoming state qualifier.
“For the state qualifier we feel really good,” Ressler said. “We saw some things today that inform our decision-making about our state qualifying line-up. We feel pretty good about the progress our guys are making that gives us some depth. I’m really impressed with some of the performances they put out there today.”