By mere fractions, Iowa maintained its grip on Nebraska in our annual comparison of state track-meet bests.
An inch in each of the girls and boys high jumps, 1½ inches in the girls shot put and .04 seconds in the boys 200 meters is all that gave the Hawkeye State a 16-10 advantage and a sixth consecutive overall victory. Iowa won nine of the 14 boys events and seven of the 12 in girls.
Two years ago, in the last meets before the pandemic, Iowa’s lead was 14-11-1. So Nebraska has been competitive than the period of 2016-18 when Iowa’s combined advantage was 61-13-2.
I’ve taken over this effort from former colleague Kevin White, who every year said this about comparing the states:
“We state this every year, partly because the one time we don't it seems guaranteed people will come out of the woodwork citing the unfairness of the comparison. So here we go: We've never claimed this to be a scientific endeavor. Since the events are held 140 miles apart on the same weekend, we enjoy comparing the top marks from each state. There are many factors preventing this from being a completely accurate assessment, including wind and other weather variables, track surface, tightness of the competition and amount of rest time between events. (Iowa runs its meet in three days, while Nebraska takes just two.)”
Nebraska tweaked its meet this year, spreading the annual carnival at Burke Stadium over four days, but kept each of the four classifications in a two-day window. As a result, multi-event track athletes had less rest time between races. What normally is an 8½-hour finals session was slashed to about three.
Dajaz DeFrand of Lincoln High and Gabe Hinrichs of Elkhorn South handled the time crunch. No excuses made by these juniors. Their performances accounted for half of Nebraska’s win total.
DeFrand won gold in the 100 and 200 and ran on the Links’ winning 400 relay team. In 2022, she’ll be looking to improve her state-record electronic time in the 100 of 11.67 and take down the records in the 200.
Hinrichs came as close as anyone since 1982 to winning the distance-race triple. In his first state meet – he played baseball for the Storm as a freshman – he won the 3,200, took second in the 800 and won the 1,600. His loss in the 800 was to Lincoln Northeast’s Daniel Romary, whose time was another win for the Nebraskans.
While DeFrand staked her claim as the fastest girls sprinter in the two states, the verdict was split for the boys. Devon Jackson of Omaha Burke ran faster than fellow junior Mikey McClain of West Des Moines Dowling in the 100 but McClain was .04 quicker to the line in the 200. McClain careered it that weekend – it was the first time he broke 11 seconds in the 100.
There’s one comparison left – meet attendance. Iowa reported 38,000 for three days of all-class events, Nebraska 30,000 for four days of separated classes. Since many states’ meets were held at limited fan capacity, this could be a 1-2 national finish to be applauded on both banks of the Missouri River.
*Nebraska: Devon Jackson, Omaha Burke, 10.57
Iowa: Mikey McClain, West Des Moines Dowling, 10.79
N: Devon Jackson, Omaha Burke, 21.63
*I: Mikey McClain, West Des Moines Dowling, 21.59
N: Conner Wells, St. Paul, 49.25
*I: TJ Tomlyanovich, Cedar Falls, 47.54
*N: Daniel Romary, Lincoln Northeast, 1:52.15
I: Aniey Akok, Ames, 1:52.95
*N: Gabe Hinrichs, Elkhorn South, 4:12.40
I: Nate Mueller, ADM, 4:16.70
*N: Gabe Hinrichs, Elkhorn South, 8:59.66
I: Nate Mueller, ADM, 9:13.84
N: Gabe Fries, Minden, 14.75
*I: Jack Latham, Spirit Lake, 14.49
N: Omaha Creighton Prep (Andrew Jones, Tobey Okafor, John Pargo, Carson Bartak), 42.76
*I: Southeast Polk, 42.35
N: Kearney (Evan Denney, Kaden Miller, Chris Duttenhoffer, Theo Huber), 3:24.01
*I: Cedar Falls, 3:15.85
N: Fremont (Tyson Baker, Nolan Miller, Owen Wagner, Braden Taylor), 7:53.03
*I: Iowa City Liberty, 7:49.45
*N: Tristan Gray, Omaha North, 61-2
I: Matt Kapustka, Waukee, 60-6¼
N: Alex Herman, Papillion-La Vista, 180-8
*I: Layne Pryor, Woodbine, 182-9
N: Reid Nelson, Elkhorn South; Jacob Dowse, Sidney; Carter Nelson, Ainsworth, 6-8
*I: Ian Collins, Charles City, 6-9
N: Shon King, Norfolk, 23-2½
*I: Cooper Dejean, OABCIG, 23-7½
*N: Dajaz DeFrand, Lincoln High, 11.73
I: Holly Duax, Sioux City West, 12.12
*N: Dajaz DeFrand, Lincoln High, 24.53
I: Holly Duax, Sioux City West, 24.59
N: Lauren Harris, Omaha Marian, 56.91
*I: Audrey Biermann, Western Dubuque, 55.80
N: Brianna Rinn, Lincoln Southwest, 2:13.30
*I: Ainsley Erzen, Carlisle, 2:09.79
N: Kailynn Gubbels, Arlington, 14.59
*I: Mackenzie Carney, Waukee, 14.54
*N: Lincoln High, 48.39
I: Dubuque Wahlert, 48.79
N: Millard West, 3:59.16
*I: Ames, 3:54.72
*N: Fremont, 9:19.73
I: Southeast Polk, 9:21.62
N: Jessica Stieb, Arcadia/Loup City, 44-7½
*I: Jadan Brumbaugh, Mount Pleasant, 44-9
N: Shayla Meyer, Superior, 138-9
*I: Faith DeRonde, Oskaloosa,140-1
N: Norah Sis, Papillion-La Vista; Kailynn Gubbels, Arlington, 5-8
*I: Maddie Olson, Sheldon, 5-9
*N: Nebtom N’Da, Bellevue East, 18-11¾
I: Shelby Romig, Ankeny, 18-¾