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Comets set school records with Drake Relays qualification deadline looming

Comets set school records with Drake Relays qualification deadline looming
Press photos by John Burbridge
Charles City senior Lauren Staudt competes in the shuttle hurdle relay during Monday’s meet at Comet Field. With freshmen Sophia Calpito and Edie Collins, and senior Keely Collins, the Comets’ SHR nearly set a school record with a winning time of 1 minute, 7.37 seconds.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — Aim for the stars and you might hit the moon.

Likewise, strive to qualify for the Drake Relays with a deadline looming, and you might break a school record in the process.

While hosting a coed track meet Monday, Charles City athletes set several school records and likely secured berths to the celebrated meet scheduled for next week (April 24-27).

One new Comet record came rather unexpectedly … even for those who broke it.

“I didn’t know we were even being set up to break a record,” said Victor Ward Jr., who teammed up with Isaiah Roe, John Bruening and Josiah Cunnings to win the boys 800 sprint medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 35.84 seconds, breaking the former Comet record set by Jeremiah Chapman, Mario Hoefer, Owen Weber and Zach Graeser in 2021.

That feat came shortly after Charles City junior Leah Stewart set a school record in the girls discus with a winning toss of 128 feet, 6 inches, besting the distance set by Krista Niezwagg (127 feet) in 1996.

Stewart also won the shot put with a personal-record throw of 38 feet, 11 1/4 inches.

Though both throws are a little shy of the “Blue Oval” standards that assure automatic Drake Relays qualification, it is likely Stewart will be among the top 24 efforts in the state to make the cut by the qualification deadline on Friday.

Another Comet likely going to Des Moines next week is freshman Sophia Calpito. In the girls long jump, Calpito obliterated a previous PR by nearly a foot with a leap of 17 feet, 6 1/4  inches — the Comet girls LJ record is 17-8 set by Dyan Fluhrer in 1989.

Calpito, who has been a track jumper and sprinter since seventh grade, is ranked in the Top 10 among potential Drake Relays qualifiers as of Monday.

Calpito is also in good shape in becoming a DR qualifier in the girls shuttle hurdle relay. With seniors Keely Collins and Lauren Staudt, and freshman Edie Collins, the Comets SHR’s winning time of 1:07.37 was a 10th of a second from matching the school record set by Brianna Carey, Tayler Schmidt, Lynn Hoeft and Sadie Ruzicka in 2017.

Though the winning time was less than a second off the Blue Oval standard (1:07 even), the quartet has likely made the cut.

Other presumed Comet DR qualifiers include Keely Collins, who has qualified for the relays three times and will likely make it down a fourth time with a top height of 5 foot, 4 inches in the high jump she achieved Saturday while placing runner-up at a meet at Iowa West — the girls HJ standard is 5-6.

Defending boys long jump state champion Cunnings won the boys long jump event Monday while matching his season-best with a leap of 21 feet, 9 1/4 inches, is also in good shape for making the DR cut — likewise for senior teammate Keenan Wiley, who also has exceeded 21 feet through the air this season.

Charles City’s boys finished Monday’s meet by winning the final two relays.

Cunnings, Bruening, Ward and Kaden Littleton won the 4-by-100 with a time of 44.91 seconds.

Then in the final event of the evening, the Comet foursome of Wiley, Cunnings, Xander Graeser and Nick Williams won the 4-by-400 with a season-best time of 1:31.02.

Depending on the weather, the Comets will get a final shot for DR qualification on Thursday with the boys participating in meet at the Denver Athletic Complex and the girls at a meet at Nashua-Plainfield.

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