DES MOINES – It had probably never been said before. Or at least, it hadn’t held up as remaining true to the end.
But as he watched teammate Alex Schultz race down the backstretch of Drake Stadium with a big lead on the rest of the field on the final lap of the 2A boys 4x400 Saturday afternoon, Albia’s Ryan Sarver said out loud what no Blue Demon track athlete before has ever had the opportunity to say before.
“I think we’ve won it, guys,” Sarver said to fellow 4x400 teammates Brett Leshen and brother Luke Sarver.
It would be a state championship, which Schultz would indeed bring home 200 meters later. As he came home at 3:21.21 Saturday shortly before 4 p.m., Schultz did something no Albia boys track athlete has ever done before as he crossed the finish line at the state track meet first to bring home the program’s first ever state championship.
“I heard everybody yelling I was coming down the homestretch. I thought Monticello was right behind me, so I gave it everything I had,” Schultz said. “When I was about 10 meters away, I knew we had it. It’s just a great feeling to know we’re the first ones to win a state title here.”
Schultz was given the opportunity to bring home the championship thanks to the position his teammates gave him as Schultz was handed the baton for the final lap with a nearly 100-meter lead on the field. Most of the lead was gained by Luke Sarver, who took the handoff at the midpoint of a tight race with Monticello from Leshen and ran away from the rest of the pack to give the Blue Demons a huge lead heading into the final 600 meters.
“We knew that it was going to be close through the first two runners. We discussed that with (head) coach (Todd Ratliff) earlier in the day,” Luke Sarver said of his fast 400 meters. “My goal was to get the baton and get as big a lead as I possibly could. We got so close on Friday to winning the first state in the 4x200. To have that first-ever second-place finish motivated us to come back here and get that first state title in this event.”