OTTUMWA — Ottumwa’s 4x400 relay squad felt a bit lonely Friday night.

That tends to happen when you obliterate the competition.

Head coach Jim Nickerson and his Bulldog thinclads accomplished some peak performances at the Newton Invite Friday night.

One such performance came from Nickerson’s 4x400 relay squad that clipped out at a hall of fame time. That bodes well for a conference championship when the CIML Metro meet gets under way tonight at Des Moines Lincoln.

That 4x400 team of sophomores Clint Utter, Tim Easton, Alex Kelly and Connor Daily won the meet at Newton with a Ottumwa High School Hall of Fame time of 3:24.36. A high finish at this year’s state meet is likely. The relay currently has one of the top-five times in all of the state.

Nickerson has never experienced in 19 years of coaching the kind of weather that has drowned athlete’s chances of trying to compete because of cancellations or postponements.

Friday was an exception.

“We won the race by four seconds and we had two guys basically running by themselves,” said Nickerson. “Alex (Kelly) just left them.”

Kelly ran a split of 50.8 and Daily ran an excellent time of 50 flat in Ottumwa’s anchor. Nickerson hopes the Bulldogs can repeat that sort of magic up at state.

“Now we have made a name for ourselves. The 4x400 has everything — the whole package,” said Nickerson. “What we did at Newton is just the beginning.”

Daily also won the 400 dash at Newton and was a state qualifier in the event at state in ‘06.

Nickerson thinks Ottumwa’s time can get even better and said the weather was one reason the team didn’t run at Drake.

“This team as a chance to knock it on down. We haven’t peaked yet,” said the Ottumwa head coach. “People were surprised that we weren’t at Drake after the way we ran Friday night.”

The defending state champ in the 4x400 is West Des Moines Valley, coached by former Ottumwa grad Josh Wilson.

“Valley — that’s who we’re after now,” said Nickerson.

Other good bets for possible conference champions are Ottumwa’s Mitch Houk in the discus and shot put. Kelly has a chance in the high jump as does Jordan Conley and Cody Houk in the 110 high hurdles.

Nickerson won’t be gunning for the team title but will rather focus on crowning as many individual conference champs as possible.

The Ottumwa girls team is looking to snare back it’s conference title. Des Moines Roosevelt has won the last two conference meets after Ottumwa won four in a row starting in ‘01.

Ottumwa head coach Steve Green thinks his team has a realistic shot at first place this year but it will take a very impressive effort by his Bulldogs.

“We are going to ask all of our premier athletes to run four events,” said Green. “They know they have a chance to dethrone Roosevelt.”

Green thinks the meet will come down to field events. Ottumwa senior Karie Downing was a state qualifier in the shot put and discus for Green in ‘06. Ottumwa senior Khyia Lewis is also a threat in the discus as she won the event at Newton recently.

“Roosevelt has two of the premier shot putters in the state. If we win one or two field events, it will make a big difference in the whole meet,” said the Ottumwa head coach.

Green thinks the meet is a three-way battle between East, Roosevelt and the Bulldogs. He also commented that for the first time in conference history the meet is more spread out.

Other key events for Ottumwa will come in the 3,000 meter run, shuttle hurdle relay, 400 meter hurdles, 400 dash, 200 dash and 100 meter hurdles.

OHS junior Sarah Sosa won the 400 hurdles as a freshman at conference. East’s Laurel Murphy is her main competition this season. Each competed at state in ‘06 with Sosa finishing 18th and Murphy crossing the finish line in 19th place.

Ottumwa junior Kendra Spurgeon clipped 26 seconds in the 200 dash and is a hall of fame runner for Green.

“To get under that 26-second barrier, you’re cooking,” said Green.

Ottumwa junior Katherine Person won the 100 hurdles last Friday at Newton after competing in the 4x200 relay 10 minutes earlier.

“She shocked herself,” said Green.

Green is going into the meet with a very positive demeanor that could bring back the conference title to the River City.

“We feel very confident going into tomorrow’s meet. We feel our odds are better than last year at winning the meet,” said Green.

Newton Invitational

May 4, 2007

Team scores — 1. Des Moines East 122; 2. Southeast Polk 119; 3. Ankeny 97; 4. Newton 75; 5. Ottumwa 68; 6. Dowling Catholic 40; 7. Des Moines Lincoln 37.

Results

Shot put — 4. Mitch Houk 46-9.

Discus — 2. M. Houk 154-5; 5. Chris Rupe 132-5.

High jump — 2. Alex Kelly 6; 6. C. Houk 5-4.

Long jump — 4. Cody Houk 18-8; 6. Armando Rodriguez 18-4.

110 high hurdles — 2. C. Houk 15.68.

Shuttle Hurdle Relay — 3. Ottumwa 1:00.65 (C. Houk, Tyler Craff, Jacob Morrissey, Jordan Conley) PR

4x200 — 5. Ottumwa 1:34.38 (Clint Utter, Brad Houk, Tim Easton, Kelly).

400 dash — 1. Connor Daily 51.35.

Medley — 4. Ottumwa 3:56.17 (Rodriguez, B. Houk, P.J. Shaeffer, Jesse Hinebaugh)

4x400 — 1. Ottumwa 3:24.36 (Utter, Easton, Kelly, Daily)



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