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Trojan Runners Make History at State Track

The boys' track team brought home a runner-up finish to become the first team to earn a trophy at the State meet in Atlantic's history.

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Five broken records, five State champions, eight medal earning times and a runner-up team finish. The Trojan boys’ track team had a busy and successful weekend at the Iowa High School State track meet held over the course of three days: May 17, 18 and 19. They competed in 11 events, bringing along 12 athletes: freshman Craig Alan Becker, sophomores Tyler Moen, Spencer Ray and Bradley Dennis, juniors Zade Niklasen, Chase Mullenix and Jalen Petersen, and seniors Jayden Barnwell, Gratt Reed, Dillon Sonntag, Jaxson Eden and Zeke Whetstone.

Records were broken in the Sprint Medley (Barnwell, Moen, Reed and Niklasen; 1:34.89), the 4x400m relay (Moen, Niklasen, Reed and Mullenix; 3:20.96), the 4x800m relay (Becker, Eden, Whetstone and Mullenix; 8:01.05), the Distance Medley (Moen, Sonntag, Niklasen and Mullenix; 3:32.53), and the 800m run (Mullenix; 1:55.38). The previous record for the Sprint Medley had been set earlier in the same season by Niklasen, Moen, Reed and Mullenix in 1:34.93. The new time of 1:34.89 was enough for a seventh-place finish at State and was anchored with a career-best performance by Niklasen in 49.1 seconds (400m).

Those weren’t the only records broken: with a crowd of 8,912 at the 2018 meet, a new record for attendance was set.

The championship performances were kicked off with the 4x800m relay of Becker, Eden, Whetstone and Mullenix on day one of State with four more to follow, including the Distance Medley, Reed in the 110m high hurdles, Mullenix in the 800m run and then to cap it off, the 4x400m relay, which has a unique story behind it. According to NE Prep Zone, the relay, anchored by Mullenix, actually finished in second place. However, due to too many steps taken on the lane marker, the first-place Sergeant Bluff-Luton Warriors were disqualified, giving the Trojans yet another State championship victory.

Medals are awarded to the top eight finishers in an event. The boys’ team had eight total events to get a medal-worthy finish, including the five championships. Others were the Sprint Medley in seventh, the 4x200m relay (Reed, Niklasen, Moen and Sonntag) in sixth (1:31.44) and Reed with a second-place finish in the 400m hurdles (53.24), earning him a Western Iowa Top 10 Ranking and the second-fastest time in school history. Reed is also sixth in the Western Iowa All-Time Rankings for the 110m high hurdles with his first-place finish in a time of 14.31.

According to head coach Alan Jenkins (@Coach_Jenkins1), the 4x400m relay is now sixth in the Western Iowa All-Time Rankings and has the second fastest time ever run by a Hawkeye Ten school, behind Lewis Central in 2016.

Before this season, there had only been two relay state championships in school history and according to a tweet posted by NT Sports (@NT_Sports), only two Trojan boys had ever won more than one gold medal at the same State meet. In 1989, Jon Pelzer won shot put and discus and Jordan Mullen won the 110m high hurdles and shuttle hurdle in 2008 and the 110m high hurdles and 400m low hurdles in 2009. Now there are four Trojans who can say the same: Moen (2), Mullenix (4), Niklasen (2) and Reed (2). Mullenix also broke a 38-year-old record in the 800m run set in 1980 by Karl Goeken (1:56.90) for his third win of the meet, before the 4x400m relay had taken place and Reed is now a six-time State Track medalist after finishing eighth and fourth in the 110m high hurdles as a sophomore and junior, respectively. His next four medals all came from the 2018 meet.

In the 1600m run, Eden finished 11th in a time of 4:31.17 and Becker finished 13th in 4:32.78. With a time of 1:59.66, Becker also finished 12th in the 800m run. The 3200m run allowed a top 10 finish for Petersen with a PR of over 13 seconds in 10:08.36. Dennis finished 20th in 10:31.82 after starting the season coming off of a recovered ACL injury. Another new PR was snatched by Ray in the high jump with a height of 5’11” and a 17th place finish. This was Ray’s first year participating in track.

Before this season, no Atlantic track team had ever brought home a team trophy from the Iowa State Meet. This year, the boys’ impressive performance earned them 63 points and a runner-up finish behind Marion with 69 and according to the article written by NE Prep Zone, their total would have been enough to take the team title in 11 of the past 12 years.

The boys’ track team of 2018 was welcomed home with a fire-truck ride along 7th St., where cars were able to line the sides and people could cheer and congratulate the team as they made their way through town. History has been made for the Atlantic Trojans at the Blue Oval and the boys’ successes will not go unnoticed.

For the full results, visit https://ihsaa-static.s3.amazonaws.com/track/2018/index.htm.

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Trojan Runners Make History at State Track