Isaac Montes used to look up at the lone track state championship plaque hanging inside the halls at AGWSR of Ackley and picture his face occupying a space nearby.
He won’t have to imagine much longer.
Montes and the Cougars doubled the school’s title count Thursday during the opening session of the state track meet and surged to the top of the Class 1-A standings with 28 points, eight more than second-place Manson-Northwest Webster.
The senior distance standout leaned past Lisbon’s Austin Springsteen at the finish line to win the 3,200 by .01 seconds in perhaps the best finish of the day at Drake Stadium. Nearly two hours later, Montes put AGWSR in front with his leadoff leg in the 4×800 and still had enough energy left to race across the infield and back as sophomore Sully Hofmeister anchored the Cougars to victory.
“It’s been a really good day,” Montes said. “I still can’t believe it.”
At the start of the day, AGWSR’s track title wall of fame consisted of one member — Cody Eichmeier, who won the 200 and long jump in 2002.
“Every day I’d walk past there and say, ‘I’d like to be up there someday,’ ” Montes said.
It took a brisk final 800 meters and a late lean for Montes to hold off Springsteen and win the 3,200 in 9:46.13.
“As we crossed, my gut said he won. I wanted to believe I won, but I knew he did,” said Springsteen. “That was the best race I’ve ever been in.”
It was one of the highlights on a day when records fell, teammates shined and past champions continued their reign.
* Monticello broke the 2-A record in the 4×800, winning in 7:53.46, and rocketed to the top of the team standings thanks to a 1-2 finish by Michael Melchert and J.J. Frawley in the 3,200. The Panthers finished the day with 28 points, 11 ahead of second-place Kingsley-Pierson/Woodbury Central.
“Me and J.J. knew if we went 1-2 it would set the tone for the 2-A meet,” Melchert said. “We definitely wanted to do that.”
* Boone’s Albert Meier and Chandler Austin pulled away from Drake Relays champion Thomas Pollard of Gilbert on the final lap to finish first and second in the 3,200 in 3-A. Meier, who won in 9:18.93, said recent speed workouts helped him develop another gear that he used to close with a 65-second final lap.
“I hit it and that was the end,” said Meier, whose team scored 19.5 points Thursday to hold a 2.5-point advantage over second-place Fort Madison. “And to see (Austin) right behind me, that’s all I could ask for.”
* North Polk established a new 2-A record in the shuttle hurdle relay, posting the fastest qualifying time in 58.17.
* Iowa City High won the 4×800 in 4-A for the sixth time and broke the school record in the process (7:48.06).
* Burlington’s Justin Randall (4-A high jump) and Manson-Northwest Webster teammates Josh Markert (1-A long jump) and Brody Eischeid (1-A 400) repeated in events they won a year ago. Eischeid posted a winning time of 48.33, .01 off the 1-A record.
“It’s tough, but that’s a great time to run,” Eischeid said. “I’m not mad. A hundredth of a second, I wish I could’ve run that much faster, but I’m really happy I won.”