KEOSAUQUA — With just five days until the competition heats up at the Drake Relays, the Van Buren and Davis County high school girls track teams’ 4x100 got one more tune-up.
Against each other, that is.
Though they won’t compete in the same heat in Des Moines Saturday morning, the two strongest 4x100 relays in the area didn’t disappoint in another matchup this season. The Mustangs got a solid anchor run by Alyssa Shirkey to defeat Van Buren’s Grace Davidson by a little more than half a second during Monday’s Warrior Relays.
“When you run against Van Buren, it always makes you push a lot harder,” Shirkey said after running the final leg of the race in a strong headwind. “We’ve been pushed this year by them and Pella Christian.”
“You always want that kind of competition this close to Drake,” said Davidson, who will be one of three runners returning in the relay. “Usually it’s been West Burlington-Notre Dame and Davis County pushing us. Every meet has been a challenge for us.”
The Warriors finished second in their home meet, scoring 1481/2 points. Clark County, Mo., won with 1741/2. Davis County was fourth (108), Cardinal was fifth (83) and Albia sixth (78).
Van Buren was strong in both the 4x100 and 4x200, but maybe its most impressive performance came in the 4x800. The quartet of Kylee Bass, Isabel Manning, Faith Neeley and Audrey Smith ran a 10:39.74, 25 seconds better than their fastest time of the season. Albia’s team of Ellie Martin, Emma Martin, Sherryl Mae Rowe and Becca Pistek ran 11:05.23 to take second, 28 seconds faster than their previous best.
Davis County had a strong run in the distance medley, winning in a time of 4:32.88. The team of Hannah Schooley, Kaylea Hopkins, Stacy Wetterich and Sophie Spargur cut 28 seconds off its time in winning easily.
Cardinal also won’t without a solid showing, as Alexia McClure ran a time of 5:41.46 to finish second in the 1,500, a 39-second cut off her season-best.
Still, the 4x100 was set up to be a thriller, with the best runners for both Van Buren and Davis County running side by side. Davidson and Shirkey received the baton about the same time, but Shirkey had just enough into the wind to win in 53.82, followed by Van Buren in 54.40.
Shirkey, who was surprised to qualify for the Drake 100-meter dash as well, is the only returning runner on last year’s Drake 4x100.
“It’s something completely unlike running on your own track,” she said. “Just a whole different feeling because there are so many people there.”
Van Buren also has big goals when it returns to Des Moines. Manning will join Grace Davison, Chloe Davidson and Madison Bartholomew on the relay.
“We want to keep chipping away at that school record (51.63) we set last year,” Grace Davidson said. “I feel like we have the girls who can do that.”
Chad Drury can be reached at email@example.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury.