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Marion, LM approach Drake cutoff
by Brandon Leonard Correspondent · April 20th, 2017

Barring an unlikely change of events, a plethora of Marion Indians and Linn-Mar Lions will be representing their respective schools at the Drake Relays starting on Thursday, April 27, at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. The cutoff to qualify for the prestigious track meet is set for Thursday, April 20, at 11:59 p.m.

For the Marion boys, expect to see quite a bit of Blair Brooks, Myles Bach, and Jeremy Fopma next week at the Big Blue Oval. As of right now, Brooks is sitting pretty for the long jump, high jump, and 110 meter high hurdles. In fact, his long jump of 22'8.5" is currently the third best among all competitors in the state of Iowa.

Bach's best 3200 meter time is second in the state, making him basically locked-in for both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. However, he's on the outside looking in for the 800 meter run. According to Quik Stats Iowa, Bach owns the 21st best time in the 800 meter run and that event will take the top 16 times. Fopma can relax for the 3200 as his time of 9:38.68 is currently the 10th best time in Iowa for the longest prep race in Iowa, but his 1600 meter run time is a different story. His time of 4:30.34 is the 21st best time in Iowa as of Monday, and there are 21 qualifiers for the 1600 meter run. Fopma will be one of the athletes who has to play the waiting game this week to see if he can qualify for the Big Blue Oval yet again.

The Marion 4x100 squad of Ryan Bettenga, Brooks, Chris Mohwinkle, and Owen Carstensen is also a virtual lock with a time of 44.61 seconds, sitting 35th in the state of Iowa. Brooks also ran on Marion's best Distance Medley Relay team that sits 17th among Iowa high schools along with Carstensen, Mohwinkle, and Bach. If that time holds up, it will be interesting to see what events Brooks will run at the Relays.

For the Marion girls, right now, just the 4x100 relay quartet of Francine Jackson, Chloe Trca, Maddy Redmond, and Livvy Draves sits in a place to qualify and they are very close to the cut line as well. Their time of 52.64 seconds ranks 78th in the state of Iowa right now and the top 80 submitted times advance.

Sophomore Hallie Kephart is currently on the outside looking in for the 3000 meter run. Kephart's top time of 10:54.14 is about five seconds off the pace for the final qualifying time to qualify for the Drake Relays.

As far as the Linn-Mar boys go, Ryan Murphy looks set to lead the charge into Drake Stadium next week. The senior owns the third best 3200 meter run time behind Marion's Bach and Cedar Falls star Sam Schillinger. Murphy also owns the fifth best time in the 1600 meter run, an event where Schillinger also owns the top time in Iowa. Murphy appears set to do some relay work as well in the 4x800 relay and the Distance Medley Relay.

Another event to keep tabs on for the Lion boys is the 110 meter high hurdles. Zeal Baker's time of 14.74 should hold up as he sits 13th out of 32 qualifying times but sophomore Trent Davis is close to the cut line with his time of 15.17 seconds. Davis sits 26th for the high hurdles and will look for that time to stick this week. Those two along with Nick House and Logan Clark appear set to compete in the Shuttle Hurdle Relay, an event where their time sits sixth in the state.

Some events to keep an eye on this week for the Lions as well are the 4x100 meter relay and the 4x400 relay. The team's 4x100 is 51st out of the 80 qualifying slots while the 4x400 is on the outside looking in, owning the 25th best time in that race. They will have two chances to better those times before the Thursday deadline.

For the Linn-Mar girls, Payton Wensel will aim to add to her already impressive resume. The junior currently owns the state's best time in the 400 meter hurdles although she's only competed in just a handful of meets. Wensel also sits second in the 800 meter run behind Davenport Assumption star Joy Ripslinger with a time of 2:13.22.

Wensel isn't the only Lion who sits on top of the leaderboard for an event as freshman Skyler Presler is one of six athletes who has cleared 5'6" in the high jump this season. Presler will be searching for his first Drake Relays medal next Friday at 9:45 a.m.

Another face to keep an eye on for Linn-Mar is Jill Bennett. Bennett currently owns the fifth best 100 meter dash time in Iowa while the Lions' Sprint Medley Relay team of Bennett, Olivia Hubler, Hanna Saville and Wensel should also make some noise as they sit fourth in that particular event. Bennett, Ariana Rolle, Hubler and Dacia Isaac also own the 14th best 4x100 time as of Monday evening.

The first boys high school event is the long jump and it will take place on Thursday, April 27, at 9:30 a.m. The opening high school girls event will be the discus at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
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