Swanson headlines list of state qualifiers for Fairfield boys
MOUNT PLEASANT — Not every senior meets his or her goals on the track, especially when they’re as lofty as the ones Jonny Swanson set.
But at Thursday’s district meet in Mount Pleasant, Swanson moved one step closer to doing just that. The senior sprinter assured himself a spot at the state meet with a runner-up finish in the star-studded 110-high hurdles early, then qualified in the heart-stopping 4x400 relay at meet’s end. Swanson, fellow seniors Dillon Fry and Justin Hammes as well as sophomore Narendra Martin took second in the relay with a season-best time.
The trip to Des Moines will mark the second straight appearance for Swanson, who represented Fairfield in the shuttle hurdle relay a year ago.
“It’s a relief. I know I’m going for sure, so that’s nice,” Swanson said. “My expectations are to make the finals and try to place top five, and I think I should be able to get that.”
He’ll have to wait to find out his fate in the 400-meter lows and shuttle hurdle relay, but there’s a chance Swanson will be competing in those events next week, as well.
“Swanson has a chance to join a pretty special group of four-event qualifiers,” said Fairfield head coach Brian Dunlap. “Not a lot of kids can say they’ve done that.”
Swanson won’t be going alone, either. In fact, the Trojans could potentially send as many as 11 athletes to the state meet. That’s an increase of two from the nine that went last season.
In addition to the 110-highs and 4x200, Fairfield received an automatic bid from Daniel Schwarz, who claimed the district title in the high jump at 6-feet, 2-inches. Schwarz’s effort in the field event represented the Trojans’ one win on the day, and it was the first district title for the fourth-place Drake medalist.
Alex Love will make his return to the state meet and will be joined alongside three first-time qualifiers in the 4x800 relay. Love, Brandon Taglauer, Zach Martin and Zane Richmond finished the race second in 8:25, and it was their fastest time of the season.
The runners in the 4x800 weren’t the only ones setting personal bests. Swanson ran his strongest race of the season in the 110-highs. His time of 14.94 seconds helped him nip the conference champion, Mount Pleasant’s Tommy Thorne, by two-hundredths of a second.
“I haven’t really beaten him this year. I usually have a bad run against him, but that’s usually my goal — to finally beat him. Got him tonight,” said Swanson.
Fort Madison’s Hunter Pollpeter took the win just ahead of Swanson, in 14.89.
Swanson fell back to third place in the 400-meter hurdles in 57.51 behind blistering times set by defending state champion Raheem Black of Fort Madison (53.71) and Thorne (54.31), who was the eighth-place winner at last year’s state meet. Still, it was another personal best set by Swanson, who wouldn’t trade in the top-flight competition there for a district title elsewhere.
“It’s kind of nice because most of the time in other districts there is like one or two good people, then they get to state and they’re not used to running against that caliber of runner. It’s just nice that I get that consistently,” Swanson said.
But the highlight of the night for Dunlap came in another of Swanson’s races: the 4x400. Swanson, Fry, Hammes and Martin finished second in that race in 3:33.63. The foursome led or was in second the entire race to qualify.
“And they did that out of lane seven,” said Dunlap. “It was very fitting because three of those guys were on the 4x200, which dropped the stick. I know how disappointed they were, but them bouncing back meant a lot to me, and I know it meant a lot to them.”
The dropped baton in the 4x200, Hammes said, motivated him that much more as he awaited his turn on the anchor leg of the 4x400.
“We knew we had to get it in this race because it was our last race of the year,” the senior said. “It was big motivation because we were really hoping to qualify in the 4x200 but we dropped the baton.”
The shuttle hurdle relay of Swanson, Schwarz, Nick Jackson and Austin Francisco is on bubble watch. The foursome finished fourth overall in 1:01.38, but they set a new season best by more than a second. The Trojans qualified last season in 1:02.04.
“I think they all had their best legs of the season, and they cut more than a second off their best this year. They should get in with that time,” said Dunlap.
In the team race, the Trojans once again rode their depth to a solid fourth-place finish in the eight-team field. The Trojans scored 91 points to finish just two behind third-place Centerville (93) and one ahead of Clear Creek-Amana (90). Fort Madison won the district title with 134 and Mount Pleasant scored 105 for second.
“The qualifiers are going to get the headlines, but it was an outstanding team effort. Once again, we scored in every event with the exception of the 3200, which we didn’t run in,” said Dunlap. “We have a lot of kids who may not be going on to state, but they get to take home a district medal.
“I’m very pleased with our effort. We qualified what we hoped and we’ll wait and see what else we can get in,” Dunlap added.
The state track meet is scheduled to begin next Thursday and run through Saturday, May 18.
State Qualifier — Boys
@ Mount Pleasant
Discus — 5. Jake Mineart (119’ 1”), 7. Gabe Jaquez (112’ 1”)
Shot Put — 7. Jake Mineart (42’ 9.5”), 8. Gabe Jaquez (39’ 1”)
High Jump — 1. Daniel Schwarz (6’ 2”)
Long Jump — 7. Jacob Unkrich (17’ 6.25”), 8. Kooper Dahlstrom (17’ 4.25”)
3,200-run — none entered.
4x800-relay — 2. Fairfield (Z. Martin, Taglauer, Richmond, Love, 8:25.19)
Shuttle Hurdle-relay — 4. Fairfield (Jackson, Schwarz, Francisco, Swanson, 1:01.38)
100-dash — 6. Justin Hammes (11.99), 8. Dakota Nye (12.22)
1600 Medley-relay — 5. Fairfield (Hoehne, Reid, Wilbur, Z. Martin, 4:00.65)
400-dash — 5. Josiah Wilbur (55.52), 9. Jordan Reid (56.28)
4x200-relay — 4. Fairfield (Francisco, N. Martin, Fry, Hammes, 1:41.61)
110-hurdles — 2. Jonny Swanson (14.94)
800-run — 4. Alex Love (2:10.68)
200-dash — 5. Dillon Fry (24.20), 7. Austin Francisco (24.29)
400-hurdles — 3. Jonny Swanson (57.51)
1600-run — 6. Brandon Taglauer (5:00.77), 8. Aaron Gevock (5:12.06)
4x100-relay — 7. Fairfield (Francisco, Nye, Dahlstrom, Hoehne, 46.57)
4x400-relay — 2. Fairfield (Fry, N. Martin, Swanson, Hammes, 3:33.63)
Final Team Standings — Boys
1. Fort Madison 134, 2. Mount Pleasant 105, 3. Centerville 93, 4. Fairfield 91, 5. Clear Creek-Amana 90, 6. Keokuk 75, 7. Washington 59, 8. Davenport Assumption 40