Howard takes second, fourth in finals
DES MOINES — Most high schoolers would be elated to take home a pair of medals from the state track and field championships.
But Sydney Howard, like other returning state champions, isn’t “most” high schoolers.
The Fairfield senior finished second in the finals of the 100-meter dash and later claimed fourth place in the 200-dash Saturday at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. The results were the top two places for the Trojan girls over the weekend, but they weren’t the results Howard was looking for.
“It would’ve been awesome to win again, but I guess it wasn’t in the pages for me,” said Howard, who won both titles as a junior last spring.
Howard owned the top preliminary times in the two races Thursday but placed runner-up behind Davenport Assumption’s Rose Ripslinger in the 100 final. Howard was clocked at 12.66 seconds from lane four, but Ripslinger was the day’s fastest in 12.60.
“I had an awesome start today, it’s just I couldn’t finish it the way I wanted to,” said Howard. “We were close. At least she didn’t blow me out of the water.”
Ripslinger finished runner-up to Howard in the 100 last year. But at least on this day, the roles were reversed.
“If we raced again, it could be different. Who knows,” said Howard. “I did what I could, I tried, but not much I could do about it,” she said.
Little more than an hour later, Howard had the difficult task of hitting the track again for the 200-meter dash finals, and she acknowledged it was hard for her to focus after finishing second in the 100.
“I could only say this as someone who has coached the sport and not someone who has lived it, but I would think you go from the disappointment of the 100-meter dash and in an hour you have to get yourself ready to go again, I got to believe that’s a difficult thing for most kids to do,” Fairfield head coach Ron Hunerdosse said.
“I don’t think you can begin to understand that until you live it,” the long-time coach added.
This time, Howard was clocked with the fourth fastest time, finishing in 26.12 seconds. Anamosa’s Olivia Joy won the race in 25.60. Assumption’s Maddie Irmen finished second (25.83) and Emma Bassier was third (25.93).
“I thought I had a good start on the curve. I’ve always had trouble on the curve,” Howard said, adding the experience was much more difficult coming back as a defending state champion.
“Everybody is looking at you. I feel like the target is on my back. They’re all wanting to beat me. That’s a little more pressure on your shoulders,” said Howard, who leaves Fairfield as the most decorated sprinter in school history.
Her winnings include 11 medals from the state meet, two state titles, a medal from the Drake Relays, and she owns two school records.
“As a sprinter she probably had the most decorated career as any of them,” said Hunerdosse. “I would put her and Libbey Schubert in the same breath, and that’s it. She’s had four good years.”
Howard’s two individual finals provided Fairfield, which ended up 16th in the final team standings, with 13 of the team’s 15 points. Sidney Baumann scored the other two points thanks to a seventh-place finish in the discus throw Thursday. Assumption scored 83 to win the team title.
But before the two medal-winning runs, Howard was on a pair of 11th-place relays Friday.
Howard, Cierra Bielinski, Mackenzie McClure and Marisa Repp finished fourth in their heat and 11th overall in the 4x200. Their time of 1:47.57 was a little more than a second shy of placing among the top eight teams, and Assumption won in 1:43.96.
Later Friday, in the 4x100, the team of Howard, McClure, Repp and Alexis Ring was about three tenths of a second out of the top eight in the prelims. The relay took 11th place in 51.05 seconds.
Another four-time state qualifier, Jessica Lamb, wrapped up her season and career Saturday donning orange and black one final time. Lamb earned 22nd place in 2:28.86, while Solon’s Lauren Benzing won the race in 2:17.76.
“Other than Sydney, she has been the face of Fairfield girls’ track and field and cross country over the last four years,” Hunerdosse said of Lamb. “She has been a very special kid, and it’s probably meant a little more to me because her mom was one of the first girls I coached.”
Also for Fairfield, the sprint medley relay ran early Saturday and finished 22nd. McClure, Repp, Bielinski and Erin Thompson ran the race in 1:57.46. Anamosa’s team won the race in 1:48.71.
“Our kids, for the most part, performed as good or better than they did all year. There was certainly a lot more good than bad this weekend,” said Hunerdosse.