By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA — Kate Birchmier liked it so much, she’s trying it twice.
The sensational sophomore from Davis County is not only heading back to the Drake Relays for the second-straight year, she’s heading back for double duty again next week. Just as she did in Relays debut, Birchmier will be competing this week in Des Moines against the best prep athletes in the state in both the girls shot put and discus after continuing on her torrid record-setting pace for Josh Husted’s squad.
Birchmier has been the cadalyst for a nearly flawless performance thus far by the field event competitors of Davis County. In five meets thus far this season, the Mustangs have failed to lose in either the long jump, high jump or in Birchmier’s two specialities of the shot put and discus throws.
Last year at Drake, Birchmier debuted with a third-place showing in the shot put with a throw of 41-0 and a 16th-place finish in the discus with a final toss of 119-5. Birchmier currently owns the second-best toss in the entire state this season at 41-9.25, trailing only defending Drake champ Alexa Hunt’s throw of 44-5.
Birchmier who will throw in the discus on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. and the shot put at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, is joined in representing Davis County by Andrew Cowles. The lone Mustang boys qualifier will run along with Fairfield senior Jonny Swanson in the 110 hurdles, which will begin with preliminaries on Friday morning ay 8:16 a.m.
The Trojan boys will also send another talented senior into the field events as Daniel Schwartz, owner of the second-best leap in all of Class 3A (6-6), will compete in the boys high jump at Thursday at 3 p.m. The Fairfield girls track team will send their 4x100 relay team up to compete at Drake Stadium in one of the first races as part of “Hy-Vee Friday Night at the Relays” at 5:15 p.m.
Oskaloosa will also have qualifiers from both teams represented at the 104th Drake Relays as the Indians’ will compete in the boys 4x100 relay Friday night at 6. Sophomore Taylor Richardson will compete in the girls long jump, which will take place Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.
The Albia boys have a pair of relay teams looking for success on the big blue oval at Drake with the Blue Demons sending the 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams to Des Moines, both of whom will be looking to be a part of Saturday afternoon’s final races. The Pekin girls will send their own first-year, first-time qualifier in freshman Gwynne Wright who will be running Thursday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. in the girls 3000 meters.
Area Prep Athletes Qualified for 2013 Drake Relays: Girls 3000 Meter Run - Gwynne Wright, FR, Pekin. Girls 4x100 Relay - Fairfield. Girls Long Jump - Taylor Richardson, SO, Oskaloosa. Girls Discus - Kate Birchmier, SO, Davis County. Girls Shot Put - Kate Birchmier, SO, Davis County. Boys 110 Hurdles - Andrew Cowles, Davis County. Boys 110 Hurdles - Jonny Swanson, SR, Fairfield. Boys 4x100 Relay - Oskaloosa. Boys 4x100 Relay - Albia. Boys 4x400 Relay - Albia. Boys High Jump - Daniel Schwartz, SR, Fairfield.