Marvelous at medleyTrojans take ‘d-med very seriously’
This was one menacing, tough-looking field.
There was long-distance specialist Fort Madison.
Also entered were three highly competitive running teams: Mt. Pleasant, West Burlington/Notre Dame and Mid-Prairie.
Finally, there was track and field perennial-powerhouse Assumption.
It was Friday night at Mt. Pleasant’s Maple Leaf Stadium and the event was the distance medley.
When it comes to the distance medley, there is always a collectively cool, focused determination from the Fairfield Trojans.
“The d-med is a pretty big deal to our team,” said Trojan Jillian Dunlap. “Everyone on our team is always happy if they’re in that one.”
Dunlap was running leadoff on Friday. Alexis Jones was second. Each would run 200 meters.
Then Malory Jones would run 400 meters followed by anchor Ashley Bloomquist, running 800.
That’s a talented quartet.
But Assumption, just last season, had set the meet record in the distance medley with a time of 4.25.71.
Pre-race, a reasonable goal for the Trojans, running all sophomores, was fourth place. And there’d have been no shame in taking fifth place either.
But that’s not how Dunlap-Jones-Jones-Bloomquist saw things.
“We take the d-med very seriously,” said Alexis Jones.
Earlier in the meet, Assumption had won the 4x800 and Fairfield — Bloomquist, Danae Drish, Maggie Ferrel and Ashlyn Elmore — took a highly respectable fourth.
But that didn’t sit perfectly well with the ever-competitive Bloomquist.
“Assumption beat us in the 4x8 so I wanted to get them back in the d-med,” she said.
When the gun went off, Dunlap was ready. Facing seven superb sprinters, she made sure Fairfield was in the thick of things.
“Then,” said Alexis Jones, “Jillian’s handoff to me was really good.”
Said Dunlap, “Alexis and I have done so many handoffs, and we practiced before the race, and so we never have any difficulties during the meets.”
With her long strides and tiger-like speed, Alexis Jones blasted around the track quickly.
“I just pushed myself into the curve and went after it,” she said.
Bloomquist was able to watch that leg of the race.
“Alexis was finishing very, very strong,” Bloomquist said.
Trojan head coach Jerrod Belzer was pleased.
“Jillian and Alexis did a great job of getting out well and putting us in good position,” he said.
By the time Alexis Jones handed the baton to Malory Jones, Fairfield was in third place.
“And then Malory was really kicking it during her 400,” Bloomquist said.
Fort Madison, with three juniors and a senior — and this being its signature race — was safely in front.
But beating Assumption was now a possibility.
“Fort Madison is very good at long distance,” said Malory Jones. “But Assumption is always very fast, too.
“My coaches told me to get out faster in my first 100 today and so that’s what I did. I got out pretty fast and kept going.”
And then passing Assumption.
And then it was Bloomquist’s turn.
“Ashley Bloomquist is an amazing runner,” Alexis Jones said. “I have full faith in her.”
Said Bloomquist, “Malory’s handoff to me was really good. I wasn’t gonna let Assumption beat me.”
And she didn’t.
Fairfield took silver with a time of 4:37.32, ahead of Assumption (4:38.75), Mt. Pleasant (4:53.54), WB/Notre Dame (4:54.52), Mid-Prairie (4:55.31), Ottumwa and Burlington.
“Malory and Ashley are gifted athletes as well,” Belzer said. “And they really closed well.”
Said Dunlap, “Beating Assumption was a very big deal to us.”
“It meant a lot to us to beat Assumption,” said Alexis Jones, “because they’re so good.”
Making it to the State Meet in the distance medley is a goal for Fairfield. It’s more than doable. Last season, the Trojans — Brynna Bowman, Alexis Jones, Kara Jeffrey and Bloomquist — made the big meet in the distance medley.
“It’s the athletes we have that make this relay so much fun for us,” Belzer said. “We’ve got a great group of girls and they work hard. They don’t take competing on a varsity relay for granted. They make sure their handoffs are perfect before the race — and that their teammates are ready to go.”