'Daniel's Day': Schwarz wins state title in high jump
DES MOINES — If someone told Daniel Schwarz a year ago he could be a state champion, he never would have believed it.
My, how things change in one year.
Schwarz became the Fairfield boys’ first state champion since 2010 on Thursday, outlasting 23 others in the high jump for a dominant, four-inch victory at the state track and field championships in Des Moines. Schwarz cleared 6-feet, 6-inches for the win, but every one of his competitors failed to clear 6-feet, 4-inches in front of the Drake Stadium crowd.
“I didn’t have any clue that I could be a state champion. It’s still a big surprise,” Schwarz, who finished seventh in the state as a sophomore, said hours after winning the title.
The state title was a most fitting end to Schwarz’s record-setting career. After sitting out his junior season last spring, Schwarz returned new and improved for his senior campaign. He broke his own FHS school record early in the season and placed fourth overall at the Drake Relays this spring.
“A lot of kids could’ve given up hope after sitting out a season, but he came back better than ever. It’s a credit to him for sticking with it,” Fairfield head coach Brian Dunlap said. “He is without a doubt the greatest high jumper in the history of Fairfield High School. It was an impressive ending to a fantastic season for him.”
He didn’t even need his best on this day.
Schwarz and 16 other jumpers cleared the bar at 6-feet, 2-inches. But at 6-feet, 4-inches, the field dwindled one by one until there was just one.
“I was watching and the first five missed, then the next five missed. I cleared it on my attempt, and then the next six guys missed,” Schwarz said. “It was surprising. I thought I would need 6-7 to get within the first three places.”
The finish was anticlimactic, but it felt anything but for Schwarz.
“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” he said.
Before Schwarz could finish what he started, though, the senior had one more hurdle to go over. Or rather, 10 hurdles.
In the middle of the event, Schwarz was called upon to run the shuttle hurdle relay. The team, which included Jonny Swanson, Austin Francisco and Nick Jackson, finished second in its heat and 17th overall in 1:01.79. The time was the second fastest of the season for the foursome, just off their season best set at the district meet last week.
“Doing two events at a time is pretty hard to focus on, but it was Daniel at his best,” said Dunlap.
The race didn’t seem to affect Schwarz in a negative way. The senior missed at 5-feet, 10-inches but didn’t miss again until 6-feet-8.
“It kind of loosened my legs up a little more. There was a little more fatigue in them,” Schwarz said of the race. “They give you enough time to leave and warm up for your race, then come back and cool down.”
Schwarz’s win and the 10 points that came with it was the best way Dunlap could have envisioned the state meet starting for his Trojans.
“It was a great day for Trojan track,” said Dunlap. “Daniel went out and did what he had done many times before. He matched a career best and really was the best jumper today.
“It was Daniel’s day.”
Also on Thursday, Fairfield’s 4x800 relay team of Zach Martin, Brandon Taglauer, Zane Richmond and Alex Love ended up 24th out of 24 teams Thursday. The relay clocked in at 8:33 as Pella won the event in 7:58.
“Every team was running faster than they ran at districts, and we didn’t. Nobody ran their PRs, but they finished up their careers where they wanted,” said Dunlap.
Regardless of placing, Dunlap said it was a worthwhile experience for all four athletes.
“Three of those guys were running at the state meet for the first time. For Zane and Zach, it was about getting valuable experience for the first time. And for the seniors, it’s always good for them to finish out their careers at the state meet,” Dunlap said.