OTTUMWA — Anne Guest could have chosen a easier path, one that would have virtually guaranteed her a spot as the top jumper as a freshman on a college track and field team next year.
But what would that have proven? Guest wants to earn her accolades as college athlete.
Guest will become the fourth Ottumwa High School athlete to compete for the University of Iowa women's track and field program starting next season. By signing her letter of intent with the Hawkeyes on Thursday, Guest will join the Hawkeyes for the 2021-22 season, which will be the senior season for former OHS distance all-state runner Kylie Latham as well as the sophomore campaigns for former OHS state champion runners Alli and Grace Bookin-Nosbisch.
"It makes me feel a lot more comfortable about my decision. I know I'll be up there with them and they'll help me out no matter what," Guest said. "I've already talked to them. They've told me that, if I ever wanted to come up earlier and tour Iowa City, they'd be there help guide me along. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable to be up there with several of my good friends."
Before the Bookin-Nosbisch sisters headed to Iowa City, the twins were part of the first state championship run for the Ottumwa girls track and field program in Class 4A 4x800 relay during the 2019 state track and field championship. Guest was the closest teammate to view the championship run as the OHS sophomore at the time was competing for her own title in the girls 4A high jump.
Guest entered that state meet seeded 19th before adding five points by finishing in a tie for third, crossing the bar at 5-2. Those points, along with a champion run by Alli Bookin-Nosbisch two days later in the 800 meter run, helped Ottumwa finish sixth as a team in Class 4A, the best mark for the program in state track and field.
"It gave me a sense of accomplishment and the motivation that I could do it," Guest recalled watching the Bookin-Nosbisch twins, Carollin Mellin and Meghan Coulter complete the championship relay run.
Guest and her OHS teammates were poised for even better things last spring. In the opening indoor meet of her junior year, Guest won the Wartburg Indoor high jump title reaching a personal-best 5-5, a mark that put her in line to make a run at qualifying for the Drake Relays with a real chance of becoming Ottumwa's first state high jump champion.
Two weeks later, those hopes were dashed as the promising 2020 track and field season was halted at the onset of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Now, Guest has her sights set on making up for lost time as a senior with sights set on making it back to the big blue oval this spring.
"I'm always lifting in the weight room and I'm always competing in other sports," Guest said. "I'm constantly increasing my muscle and my strength. I feel like I'm going to be able to improve me personal best. Iowa wanting me to be on their team also gives me an extra boost of confidence. It shows that I can do this and I can be what I want to be."
Guest admits there were multiple offers to compete in track and field as well as volleyball, where Guest was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs racking up over 754 career kills. Indian Hills Community College, in fact, offered Guest the chance to compete both in volleyball and track for the next two years in her hometown.
The chance to compete against the best college athletes in the country for the next four years, however, was too tempting to turn down.
"All the offers I got were wonderful offers from wonderful schools," Guest said. "I feel like, as an athlete, you can't go in thinking your the best. You have to think there's someone out there that you need to beat. You don't want to be given anything. You want to work super hard to get to the top. I feel like Iowa will definitely push me as hard as I've ever been pushed before."
Guest shared in the college signing on Thursday with most of her family including her mother, Angie and father, Scott. Also by Guest's side was her younger brother, A.J., who was treated for a heart condition including a series of three open-heart surgeries within the first three years of his life at the University of Iowa Hospitals.
“It still makes me very emotional,” said Angie. “They have saved my child; they have saved so many children. They feel like family when you’re there.
"Hawkeye Nation definitely includes the entire Guest family," Anne added. "We all feel so comfortable with the college. Everyone is so happy that I chose to go there."
Next up for Guest, besides her quest to win a state high jump title this spring, is one final season on the basketball court with her Ottumwa High School teammates. Guest's signing comes at the end of difficult week for the Bulldog girls basketball team with two players and one coach testing positive for COVID-19, bringing activities for the team to a halt until Nov. 30. Ottumwa is now scheduled to open the season on Dec. 8 at Mount Pleasant.
"It's definitely been rocky. I'm trying to stay as active as I can, which still includes lifting," Guest said. "I would definitely rather be in the gym more to work on my shooting skills. We'll just have to wait until we can continue the season."