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Mustangs, Rebels set pace for 2017
April 9, 2017

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LE GRAND - For the second-straight evening, the late-March weather cooperated and competing teams got a chance to set their marks for the upcoming season at the 2017 East Marshall Boys' Early Bird Relays on Tuesday.

Madrid ran away with the team title, touting one of the best throws in the state from Coy Kirkpatrick. The senior discus thrower cleared 179 feet, 3 1/2 inches, posting the best throw in Iowa this year and cracking the top 50 all-time record page. The Tigers finished first with 169.33 points.

The East Marshall boys nabbed sixth with 56.33 points and were led by a strong afternoon from Eli Anderson. It's early, hence the Early Bird Relays, but Mustang head coach Ryan Hull said he's not quite confident, but he's content with where his team sat after the first outdoor meet of the year.

"I feel comfortable with where we ran tonight," Hull said. "I was proud of our kids' effort, no doubt. When I look back at times from this year to last year at this early bird, we ran some very respectable times. In fact, a lot of our kids ran personal bests. You usually don't expect that in your first outdoor meet."

Cade Curphy kicked off the afternoon for individual events in the 3,200-meter race. Loaded with a top-heavy field featuring sub-10 minute, 30 second two-mile times, Curphy ran a personal best in the longest distance event with a time of 10:32.79. He was fourth, one of the top finishes for the Mustangs on Tuesday.

Curphy also set a personal best in the mile, coming in sixth with a 5:14.45.

Anderson made vast improvements from his 2016 Early Bird Relays time, winning the 800 open with a 2:10.00. He set a new Early Bird Relays record in the event with his time, besting the old record of 2:13.50.

Anderson was also a part of the third-place 4400 relay team with Paden Lang, Zane Johnson and Logan Nicholson, who all ran a collective 3:45.86, as well as the third-place 4800 relay (Tyler DeBondt, Seth Killborn, Lang and Anderson) which ran an 8:59.89.

Anderson was the final leg and bested Gladbrook-Reinbeck's Matt Johannsen in the final centimeters to snag third out from under the Rebels in the relay.

But even with some strong showings from runners in consecutive areas, the Mustangs will still be searching to plug some holes in the lineup.

"Some are in our field events, the high jump for example," Hull said. "We're still trying to find a discus thrower. We're experimenting around with that. Some are in our sprinting events. Our 200 runners right now are a whole slug of kids, going into this, were going to be some of our top kids. But we found out some of our kids who thought should be where they're at, aren't. And some younger kids impressed us tonight."

Justin Ridout competed well in the shot put, throwing for 42-2 and earning two team points for fifth place while taking ninth in the discus (108-11).

Nicholson had a strong showing in the 400 hurdles with a second-place finish (1:00.36) and Johnson had a personal best in the 100 hurdles, running a 16.92. The boys' distance medley also took third (Levi Needham, Jon Baker, Brycen Rogers and Blake Lee) in a time of 4:02.78.

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys put together a team which took seventh with 31 points. The band of dual-sport athletes were led by Johannsen and Erik Knaack, who are golf and soccer players, respectively.

Johannsen is running track this year for the first time since eighth grade. He said he's out this year because of the group comradery and challenge, and has nothing but the state meet on his mind, even in late March.

"I think it's fun. I like sports and I like hanging out with everybody," Johannsen said. "I just want to work hard and make it to state. I've always wanted to run at Drake. I'm wanting to run a 1:58.00 [in the 800] by district time."

He clocked a 2:12.73, which would've set the Early Bird Relays record had it not been for Anderson's winning time. He was also on the second-place 4400 team with Paker Bown, Hunter Lott and Walker Thede, who ran a collective 3:38.46. Johannsen also anchored the 4800 that ran a 9:00.00 and was just edged out by Anderson again.

"[Anderson]'s a good sport and we're both running about the same time right now at the beginning of the year," Johannsen said. "But he pulled it off in the 800 and 48. But I'm just looking to improve my time."

Knaack was eighth in the 100 (12.36) and seventh in the long jump (18-3.75). Teammate Thede was sixth in the long jump at 18-4.

G-R head coach Jackson Anderson said he and the other G-R head coaches have been working well together to make sure the dual-sport athletes are not only being able to compete in both sports, but are also being competitive.

"It can be a challenge, but we've got good coaches in place that are going to work together with each other and be as successful as we can across the board," Anderson "We've got good athletes, too, who want to be successful. So we're just going to make as many opportunities for them as we can."

PCM ended up second with 109 points and Dike-New Hartford was third with 92. Don Bosco took fourth with 64.33 points and Woodward Academy was fifth with 62 points. Grand View Christian was eighth with four points.

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