Unlike last year, Fairfield’s Sydney Howard could not join in on the fun of celebrating a state title on Saturday. The defending 100 and 2A girls 3A champ, who entered the day with the top qualifying time in both races, fell just short in her bid to win two straight in both as Rose Ripslinger of Davenport Assumption avenged her loss to Howard last year by edging the Trojan sprinter by .06 in the 100 final.
Howard couldn’t recover less than hour later, finishing fourth in a time of 26.12 in the 200 final. The pressure of trying to defend the championships ultimately may have played a huge factor in keeping the Fairfield senior from finishing first this year in either race.
“Everyone is looking at you. I feel like the target’s on my back. They’re all wanting to beat me. That’s a lot of pressure,” Howard said. “I was nervous all morning. I’m glad it’s over with. It’s definitely nerve wracking.”
“It’s definitely a different mindset to be the person that comes up here as the defending champion as opposed to being the person looking to win that first title,” Fairfield head girls track coach Ron Hunderdosse added. “That shouldn’t take anything away from what Sydney’s accomplished. She may go down as the greatest sprinter in Fairfield girls track history when it’s all said and done.”
State title hopes were also hanging in the balance for the Davis County girls team heading into Saturday. The leaders in Class 2A after day one, the Mustangs trailed by just a quarter of a point entering Saturday and found themselves tied for first after getting top-10 runs from Addie McKee and Ally McClure in the 800 run.
Davis County eventually settled for seventh place with 34.75 points, capped by a third-place run in the 100 hurdles by senior Kassidy Sharp. The UNI recruit ran a personal-best time of 15.76 to finish third, giving the Mustangs at least a mathematical hope to cap off the day.