Jared Ganschow is not the kind of driver you want to get behind in freeway traffic. He jack-rabbits out of a dead stop and then cruises before slamming the pedal again. Makes you want to give him a piece of your mind.
That was the feeling of the rest of the Class 3A 400-meter field Thursday evening at the state track meet when Ganschow used that strategy to eclipse the field and hold off hard-charging Raheem Black of Fort Madison.
“I had to get out early because I knew my strategy coming in has been wrong,” Ganschow said. “I haven’t been running good times. I’ve been working on getting out that first 50, cruising the next and seeing what I have left.”
The idea of the fast start came from his father.
“I trusted him and that’s where it was, so I got it,” Ganschow said.
He said he had it on cruise control for about 150 meters, leaving the final 200 to put the pedal to the metal.
“Then I started to crank it up,” he said. “I knew I had to finish strong because that’s what (Black) does. I could hear him coming right in my left ear. I gritted my teeth, and hopefully I was going to get in and I did.”
It was a sweet ride for the Clear Creek Amana senior, who was a phenom as a sophomore, placing second in this event and anchoring CCA’s brilliant 4×400 victory, but who then was hobbled his entire junior year by a hamstring injury.
“This is awesome. I’ve been waiting for this for two years,” Ganschow said. “I just need my redemption back. It’s not as good as it was a couple years ago, but I just had to get out and run.”
He said running well in the 200 preliminaries (he was the second-fastest qualifier) gave him confidence.
“It’s just so much relief. The last couple meets I’ve only been running two or three events and now I get to run four,” he said. “I had two today and two more tomorrow and I hope two more on Saturday.”
* JENSEN PRs AGAIN: City High senior Brook Price edged West High senior Isaac Jensen with a final burst down the stretch to take third place in the Class 4A 3,200 meters. Linn-Mar’s Josh Evans and Pleasant Valley’s Caleb Drake were favored to be 1-2 and they were, but the race for third was hot.
“He had that little bit extra; I’m a little bit disappointed but he’s a great runner,” Jensen said. “Going into the season I wouldn’t even have thought I’d have a chance to challenge Brook because I didn’t have that much confidence in my finishing speed. I’ve really built on that this year, and it definitely paid off in this race.”
Price finished in 9:22.43 and Jensen in 9:22.91. Jensen cut 5 seconds off his personal-best time. It was his second such effort in the row.
“That means I’m doing something right here at the end of the season,” Jensen said. “I just knew that if I ran my pace a lot of guys would come back. They would try to go out with Josh and pay for it. I sat back the first mile and was just ready to work it once we came around the last three or four laps.”
* NEWSOM REACHES NEW HEIGHTS: West Liberty senior Tyler Newsom, one of the best all-around athletes in the area, came out of the first section of the Class 2A shot put to make the finals and placed seventh. Newsom’s best throw was 49-7½, a foot and a half better than his previous best.
“My thought was that I won my flight, then I had a pretty good chance of making it to the finals,” he said.
He was second in his flight but it was good enough to reach the final eight.
“I had a lot of adrenaline going through me. You know, first time at state and being a senior I just wanted to go out throwing a PR and get a medal at state,” Newsom said. “During warm-ups I was a little rusty. That was just the nerves. So I kind of got relaxed and everything just felt smooth and I just extended well and it came out well.”
He also will compete today in the discus, his better event of the throws.
* SWEET MUSIC: Highland sophomore Evan Mahler came into the state meet with the fourth-best time in the Class 1A 3,200. That’s where he finished in a personal-best time of 10:09.27.
Mahler took the lead in the race after just 200 meters and held it until the final 800 when Isaac Montes and Austin Springsteen made their moves. Mahler tried but wasn’t able to go with the leaders when they kicked.
“Not really,” Mahler said when asked if he planned to be the rabbit in the field. “It’s my race; it’s the race that I’m best at.”
* GUTTING IT OUT: Regina’s David Crompton was in a pack of three leading the Class 2A 3,200 for all but the last 300 meters. As the top two got away, Crompton was in danger of falling back and his body language with 400 left was that of a guy who was gassed. He was passed by a couple runners but steeled himself and reclaimed fourth place by the end.
“I was just trying to focus on finishing the last lap as fast as possible and pump my arms,” Crompton said. “I was trying to stay with Monticello (Michael Melchert and JJ Frawley) the whole time, but I just ran out of gas.
“When I went into the race my two goals were to contend for the win and stay with the leaders as long as possible and, two, have fun. When those other two guys passed me, I don’t know, I just didn’t want to lose any more spots.”
* WHO’S ON FIRST? Solon’s Streeter McIlravy sat on a bench by the high jump and didn’t know if he finished second or 15th. Unfortunately it was the latter. Only one jumper surpassed 6-2.
“Going into 6-4, there were 16 kids,” McIlravy said. “There were a ton that made it.”
Coach Mark Sovers said that McIlravy cleared 6-0 on his first jump but was required to jump again because the judges made a clerical error. The succeeding miss may have dropped him a long way down the list but he had no recourse.
Obviously, it was the freshman’s first trip to the state meet.
“Pretty cool,” he said. “I was a little nervous, but it’s just a good experience. I’ll have other opportunities the next three years. I’m disappointed, but I’m happy at the same time.”
He jumped 6-0 as an eighth-grader but went 6-4 twice this season. “It was a really good year; I enjoyed it all,” he said.
* BENZING RUNNER-UP: Solon’s Lauren Benzing recorded her best finish at the state track meet with a runner-up finish in the girls Class 3A 3,000. Benzing finished in 10:29.58, her season-best. Waverly-Shell Rock senior Anna Holdiman won in 10:11.83.
“It was really hot, and I figured based on the previous race that the times were going to be a little slower and it was going to be a tactical race,” Benzing said. “So I just really tried to think about that and use that to my advantage. I knew going into the race that I wanted to hold back the first two laps because typically that hurts me the most, going out too fast.”
Benzing wasn’t daunted by Holdiman’s dominance. The Go-Hawk won the state cross country title and has won three of the last four 3,000-meter titles.
“Every runner has bad days now and then. I’m not going to just write it off,” Benzing said. “I’ll be chasing the rest of the weekend and hope for the best.”
* SAILING OUT OF TRACK: City High senior Abby Saehler finished her track career by placing fourth in the high jump with a leap of 5-2. Pleasant Valley freshman Kelli DeGeorge won with a jump of 5-4.
“It’s a little frustrating but I’m not complaining,” she said. “Once I got over 5-2 I was really shooting for 5-4 because that’s my PR and I got it last year.”
Saehler will play college volleyball next year at Wingate in North Carolina.
* YOKOM COMES THROUGH: West’s Ashlynn Yokom nabbed three big points for her team with a sixth-place finish in the 3,000. Yokom didn’t fare very well at the Drake Relays, but she ran a personal-best 10:09.59 Thursday morning.
“That’s what I’m out here doing, trying my best to get out there for my team and to get some points,” Yokom said. “They went out pretty fast like I knew they were going to, so I just kept working my way up. The weather is pretty nice today. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold.”
Yokom later led off the 4×800 relay that finished eighth.
Linn-Mar sensation Stephanie Jenks, the Drake Relays champ, won the 3,000 in 9:50.70.
* AROUND THE TRACK: Solon’s Dalton Ferguson threw a season-best 156 feet in the Class 3A boys discus to place sixth. That throw beat his previous best by almost 16 feet. City’s Aliyah Gustafson threw her season-best, 132-3, to place fourth in the 4A discus. She came in with a season-best 128-1. Waukee’s Erin Bramble won with a throw of 138-11. West’s Abby Brayton was seventh with a throw of 124-1.
City sophomore Sarah Plock was fifth in the open 400 in a time of 57.96. Her season-best time coming in was 58.64. Claire Crew was 11th for City. Alisha Jones of Davenport North won in 55.90.
West’s Ahmed Noureldaim was sixth in the open 400 in a season-best 49.51. Clinton’s Deshond Robinson won in 48.71.
Solon’s Kara Misel was fourth in the Class 3A discus with a throw of 129-5. Her season-best toss was 137-3. Dubuque Wahlert’s Maddie Nilles won at 138-3.
Mid-Prairie’s girls 4×800 team shaved 19 seconds off its season-best time to finish sixth in 10:04.05. The relay included Tayler Foster, Arissa Marine, Jessi Butters and Mallory McArtor. Mid-Prairie’s Ryan Hoffman was fourth in the Class 2A 400 in a season-best 50.02, and Regina’s Brian Amelon was seventh in a season-best 51.29.