DES MOINES — The stellar prep careers of W-G seniors Maddie Bardole, Miranda Kuehl and Haley Manning ended in impressive fashion at the Class 1A State Track Meet May 16-18.
Joined by sophomore standout Abby Musser, the senior trio and their underclassman teammate sparkled in four relays, capturing one state championship, placing second twice and finishing third once while setting three new school records in the process. The quartet piled up 27 points, good enough for a seventh place finish in the team standings.
The foursome were second in the 4x200 in 2012 and took the next step, winning the 1A crown in a blistering 1minute, 47.54 seconds, a new W-G school standard.
They were second in school record times of 1:50.56 in the sprint medley and of 51.16 in the 4x100 and were third in the distance medley in 4:18.26. While not a school mark, the foursome already owned the W-G milestone in the distance medley entering the state meet.
The Hawks had designs on four titles, but last Friday began with a bronze finish in the distance medley, a result that did not sit well with the foursome.
"It just made them more determined, that is all," Hawk coach George Ashman said. "They were nearly two seconds better than their seeded time, so you cannot ask for more."
The quartet did not have to wait long to make amends, as the championship in the 4x200 — won by 1.5 seconds, a large margin in the discipline — came less than two hours later.
Saturday began with the runner-up placing in the sprint medley and was capped by a bang-bang runner-up finish in the 4x100.
"We did the best we could and set three new records, so it is hard to be too disappointed," Kuehl said. "I think I can say we are disappointed in where we placed, but not in how we ran, because everyone ran their best."
Manning owns the only girls individual state title for W-G with her win in the 800 in 2011. She has participated in the maximum 16 events in her four years, with Bardole competing 15 times and Kuehl 11 times while Musser has made seven appearances in two years.
"I thought we had a very good chance of taking all four, but we got won and the worst was third so I guess that will do," Manning said. "I am proud of our efforts and the school records and loved running with these girls."
Bardole echoed those sentiments, noting she and Manning had played volleyball and basketball and been out for track for all four years, with Musser joining the pair for all three sports while Kuehl has been with the duo for all four years in track.
"It is sad because it is over now and I have never had a sport where we (Manning) and I have not been together, and to be with Miranda four years and with Abby for two — that is the heartbreaking part, because we are so used to each other," she said. "This is the way we wanted it to end, with all four of us running all four events together and trying for four titles."
Musser said the next two years would be "like a whole new world."
"Not having these three in track and Maddie and Haley in the other sports, it will different, for sure," she said. "I am just glad I had two years with them."
Kuehl has been the odd girl out for four years, as track is her only prep sport. Why? Because of her impressive talents as a gymnast, skills that will take her to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.
"I said I would come out only if the coaches were willing to work with me and they were," she said. "I am so thankful for all they did and all the girls did in working around my gymnastics."
Manning is bound of the University of Iowa to continue her track career, with Bardole off to Buena Vista, where volleyball could be in her future.
"You don’t see this kind of talent come together at small schools very often," Ashman said. "It has been great for W-G to have them."