DES MOINES — A closer look at the top individuals and team races in the girls’ portion of this week’s state track and field meet at Drake Stadium:
Top individuals — Southeast Polk’s Sydney Milani has posted one of the most dominant seasons in state history. She ranks No. 1 all-time in Iowa in the 200- and 400-meter races, and is No. 3 in the 100. She’ll race all of those this weekend, plus the 800. If she wins all four, that would make an unprecedented title combination. Milani will cross paths with Linn-Mar star Payton Wensel in the 400. Wensel is bidding to become just the second Iowa girl to run a sub-60 400-meter hurdles. Waukee boasts stars aplenty in Elma Vojic, Lily Campbell, Logan Akason and Sydney Winger.
Scouting the team race — There promises to be a tight race with multiple teams involved ... for second place. Nobody is challenging Waukee at the top. The two-time defending-champion Warriors are seeded to score in 16 of 19 events, and double-score in three. Waukee scored 116 points last year, and this team might be better. Milani and Wensel figure to score big for Southeast Polk and Linn-Mar, respectively, and Iowa City West is capable of its second straight runner-up finish if the Women of Troy outperform their seeds.
Projected points — Waukee 121, Southeast Polk 57, Linn-Mar 51, Iowa City West 48, Pleasant Valley 48
Linder’s championship pick — Waukee
Top individuals — Crestwood’s Ellie Friesen is a good bet to sweep the longest three races, though she will be tested by Center Point-Urbana’s Adrianna Katcher in the 1,500 and 3,000. Davenport Assumption’s Carly King is a dynamite sprinter. Decorah’s Katie Nimrod is the defending champion and top seed in the 400-meter hurdles and anchors the Vikings’ middle-distance races, and Grace Martensen ignites Benton Community in the hurdling and sprint relays.
Scouting the team race — This probably will signal the end of Davenport Assumption’s title hold after a five-year run. Despite having just one top seed (Kaeleigh DeWaard in the shot put), Pella is a solid favorite. Last year’s runners-up, the Dutch are seeded to score in 11 events. If they falter, there are worthy challengers in Dubuque Wahlert, Decorah, Benton Community and Crestwood. Wahlert will get a boost from its sprint relays, Decorah in the middle-distance events, Crestwood from Friesen. Benton is top-seeded in four events Saturday, and could make a late charge.
Projected points — Pella 76, Dubuque Wahlert 58, Decorah 57, Benton Community 56, Crestwood 49
Linder’s championship pick — Pella
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Top individuals — Mid-Prairie’s Hostetler sisters will run together at Drake Stadium for the final time this weekend. It’s entirely possible that Anna (a senior heading to Iowa) and Marie (a sophomore) could sweep the top two spots in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000. Last year, they were 1-2 in the 3,000 and 1,500, 1-5 in the 800. Tipton’s Jamie Kofron won both throwing events at the Drake Relays, and certainly is capable of doing it again.
Scouting the team race — It ought to come down to the star power of Mid-Prairie (specifically, the Hostetlers) against the balance of Panorama. The Panthers have only one top seed (Morgan Johnk in the 100 hurdles), but are seeded to score in 11 events. Mid-Prairie, meanwhile, should get big points from the Hostetlers in all three distance events, plus the distance medley relay. If they run to their potential, the Golden Hawks will be very difficult to outscore.
Projected points — Panorama 55, Mid-Prairie 47, Sumner-Fredericksburg 44, Monticello 37, Dyersville Beckman 34
Linder’s championship pick — Mid-Prairie
Top individuals — Danville’s Alyssa Pfadenhauer is the focal point of the Bears’ strength in the long sprints. The junior is the top seed in the 400, No. 2 in the 200 and a valuable relay component. Madrid’s Rylan Santi is the top entrant in the 100 and 200, and Sigourney’s Autum Barthelman is favored to repeat in the 100-meter hurdles. Top distance runners are Emma Lucas of Bedford, Janette Schraft of East Mills and Emily Staal of Central City.
Scouting the team race — After finishing 2 1/2 points back last year, Danville has established itself as the team to beat. Pfadenhauer is the 400 favorite, and the Bears are top-seeded in three relays. Defending-champion Sigourney is in the chase group, along with Lansing Kee and South Winneshiek. Sigourney might not score until Saturday, but has some big events on the final day. South Winn has four events seeded in the top three, and Kee could contend in the distance medley and 1,600 relay.
Projected points — Danville 53, Lansing Kee 36, South Winneshiek 33, Sigourney 31, Madrid 30
Linder’s championship pick — Danville
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