DES MOINES - The Marshalltown boys' track and field team left Drake Stadium on Friday night without plans to return for the final day of the Drake Relays for the first time since 2009.
The Bobcats suffered a heartbreaker in the day's final race to finish off a day that left MHS focusing on a more distant return trip to the Blue Oval.
"We expected to run better than that, but it's one of those learning experiences that you put behind you and move on," said Marshalltown head coach Doug Bacon. "There's no doubt we put in the effort today. We were just kind of a step off all day today."
T-R PHOTO BY MARK PAWLAK
Marshalltown senior Austin Hauser takes the baton from Jordan Dean on the final exchange of the 1,600-meter medley relay at the Drake Relays. The Bobcats finished 11th in 3:36.26 on Friday.
MHS ran in the last heat of the last race of the day - the 4x400 meters - and led the entire way until West Des Moines Valley snuck ahead in the event's final 50 meters, Bacon said.
The Tigers edged the Bobcats by 67 hundreths of a second for first in the heat. MHS was ninth overall, .08 behind Waukee for the eighth and final spot in today's medal race.
Austin Hauser, Bennett Mann, Nate Menuey and Jordan Dean posted a time of 3 minutes, 26.37 seconds to Valley's 3:25.70.
Ty Steffensen, Tad Steffensen, Dean and Hauser made up MHS' 1,600 medley relay which crossed the finish line in 3:36.26, good for 11th place.
Hauser took the baton on the anchor and was in a pack vying for a top-four finish in the heat going into the final 400 meters, but he was unable to emerge from the group.
"I was kind of hesitant because I didn't know if I wanted to swing past them right there or wait for a little bit," Hauser said, "and when I was hesitant, kids got up under me. So when I was hesitant it kind of broke my stride a little bit.
"(Coach Bacon) said just go with your gut feeling next time. Just a learning experience."
The afternoon session ended for MHS with a 13th-place finish in the 4x200 in a time with the same quartet from the 1,600 medley posting a time of 1:31.40.
The Bobcats had clocked the state's seventh-fastest time in the 4x200 coming into the day and placed 19th last year on the Blue Oval in the event.
"Again, not what we hoped for," Hauser said, "but we had good competition for our heat. We weren't too far behind from what we ran best (to qualify).
"The competition level this year at Drake has really stepped up from the last couple years."
Tad Steffensen posted an 11.29 in his 100-meter race to finish 16th after three preliminary heats. The top eight advanced to the afternoon's final, where Cedar Falls' James Harrington won in record time.
The University of Alabama recruit cruised past the finish line in 10.61 to set an all-time Iowa high school record in an automatically-timed race.
Steffensen's qualifying time registered a half-second faster than what he was able to post on a cool and windy day on the Jim Duncan Track.
A season long trend of being unable to get out of the blocks quickly and cleanly continued to be a problem, the junior said.
"I had a bad start," he stated. "I just can't really get it down."
The Bobcats' 4x100 team of Tad Steffensen, Ty Steffensen, Dean and Kyle Carnahan clocked in at 43.93 to finish fourth in their heat and 16th overall.
The foursome entered this day with the 11th fastest time in the state. Last year's MHS 4x100 group of Darius Zeigler, Dean, Tim Corrick and Hauser placed 27th overall at Drake.
Marshalltown will now turn its attention to the stretch of the season it truly values - the run up to the return to Drake Stadium for the state meet.
"Drake Relays is an exciting thing. It's fun to get qualified for and it's a really fun weekend in April," said Bacon, "but it really is just a fun weekend in April.
"If that's what we geared everything toward then we'd have a really disappointing three weeks because we wouldn't have anything left."