Another week has concluded and yet another one will begin under the watch of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another week has gone by without high school spring sports in Iowa. That means several big dates have and will come and go without any competition to grace them.
This week that includes what would have been the original date for the Iowa High School state track and field championships May 22. What will also have come to pass is the potential fifth-consecutive team state title for the Waukee girls track team. The Warriors were in a position to do what only one other team in Iowa high school girls history has accomplished with five consecutive team state titles.
“We all put in a lot of hard work during the offseason,” said senior athlete Jessica Caraway. “It did feel like we could do it all again, we had a lot of potential.”
Head coach Matt Pries and his squad were off to quite the start adding 15 performances to their all-time top ten indoor list in only three indoor meets in 2020. Overall it was the kind of start that excited everybody, especially coach Pries.
“We were excited about the pieces we had in place,” began Pries. “Early season performances showed that, and we hadn’t put things together the way we maybe could have. We had a good amount of depth throughout the team which would have allowed us to spread people out in events to most effectively score points in a state meet.”
Nearly every aspect of the team seemed strong with talent and depth. Over the years, helping to highlight all of that has been the relay events. From a state record in the 4x800 and more, the relay events have proven strong and were looking that way yet again.
“We were in a good position to perform well in the relays,” started Pries. “At least four relays would have challenged again for the top three performances or state titles. The 4x200 and the 4x100 relay teams returned three members each, and we had the ability to shift things to include four high-level experienced girls on each. We also would have aimed to improve the performances of the 4x400 and two relays.”
The 4x800 meter relay, which has garnered plenty of success lately, also returned three runners with several others set to be plugged in.
All the excitement also included the field events which wielded big-time talent as well. That included returning Class 4A girls champion high jumper Layanna Green who would have returned after a title jump of 5’-06” last season at the state meet. That’s without mentioning the strong distance events for the Warriors led by stars like the Schaffer sisters, Jessica Caraway, and others. Now, with every event that comes to pass (including the state meet), fans, athletes, and coaches tend to find themselves noticing.
“We love hosting meets and we’d have had four of those which would have included the state qualifying meet,” began Pries. “Drake weekend was tough, and “m sure we will all be feeling it come state meet weekend.”
Even with that said, what has made the Warrior girls track and field team so consistently dynamic has more to do with the physical performances, but the mental performances as well. That same mental performance that coach Pries mentioned can be critical moving forward.
“Here’s the thing: how we choose to respond to all of this is critical,” said Pries. “Our team is committed to staying positive and focused on continuing to be our best. We believe this doesn’t define us, but it is helping us grow, and we’ll come out stronger and better on the other side.”
That same mindset has sent countless athletes onto the next level, including seven seniors who will run collegiately next year. Right now, as long as the COVID-19 pandemic has put a pause on sports, and we’re all left wondering what could have been. That includes more history that could have been for the Waukee girls’ track team.