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Saddler fuels Spartans to state-qualifying title

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ELDRIDGE — Pleasant Valley High School's Ryan Saddler has been looking up at Muscatine’s Nolan Recker all spring in the shot put.

“He’s been the one dude every single day in practice, I’ll put a mark in the ground and be like, ‘This is where Nolan is at,’” Saddler said.

On the hottest day of the track & field season, Saddler finally got the best of the Drake Relays sixth-place finisher Thursday afternoon at the Class 4A state-qualifying meet.

Saddler unleashed a personal-best toss of 54 feet, 8 inches to prevail over Recker.

“I woke up this morning and knew it was going to be a great day,” Saddler said. “I had a good lift this morning, went heavy and came out on that first throw with a big one.

“To do what I did and to finally beat him, I don’t know how to explain it.”

PV won a half-dozen events and followed up its Mississippi Athletic Conference championship with a state-qualifying win with 169.33 points. North Scott was runner-up with 150 points and Bettendorf took third with 108.83.

Recker still had plenty to be excited about for next week.

Headed to Yale University in the fall, he bettered his own school record and won the discus with a heave of 183-4 and finished runner-up in the shot put to qualify for state in both events.

“I’ve been trying to break that 180 barrier all season, so it is great to come out here at the state-qualifying meet and do that,” he said. “I’ve been getting more technically sound in the discus. I hit it with a good height, nice release and it went over the 180 line.

“I’m feeling really good right now with the discus. The shot put, I’ve got a lot to work on.”

Bettendorf’s Calvin Curcija accounted for three wins, winning the open 400 (49.5) and anchoring the sprint medley and 1,600 relays.

North Scott matched PV with six wins. It also had three runner-up finishes and five thirds.

Sam Skarich (high jump), Darnell Butler (long jump) and Dane Treiber (200) collected victories as did the Lancers’ 400, 800 and 3,200 relays.

“After coming back from MAC, we definitely had to come out and show it in the district meet,” Butler said. “That’s what we did. We all performed well.

“Coach (Joe) Greenwood trains a good group of athletes here.”

Butler jumped a personal-best 21 feet, 11 ¼ inches. It was eight inches farther than he had jumped at any point this spring.

“I knew it was going to be hot and I used that to my advantage,” he said. “I prepped this week in the heat, and I didn’t let it zap me today. I was feeling good during warmups and had a pep talk with my coach. He said, ‘Go get it today,’ and that’s what I did.”

PV went 1-2 in all three distance events. Jacob Mumey won the 800 and 3,200 while Tarun Vedula clipped Mumey for the victory in the 1,600.

The Drake Relays winning shuttle hurdle relay took first in 1:00.13, and PV also received a win from Makhi Wilson in the 110 hurdles.

Davenport West’s NaZion Caruthers automatically qualified for state in three events. He won the 100 in 10.99 seconds and was second in the 200 and 400. He ran a season-best time of 49.67 in the quarter-mile.

“I was able to compete today, run good times and close to a PR in the 100 in this hot weather,” Caruthers said. “(Curcija) was great competition for me in the 400, so he was able to push me harder.

“It is a great feeling to grind through three races and qualify for state.”

Muscatine won the distance medley relay, and Bettendorf’s Parker Miller prevailed in the 400 hurdles.


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The Wapello High School track & field teams won nine events at the Thursday’s Class 1A state qualifier at Sigourney, with seven of those belonging to the girls squad that placed second in the team standings in the 14-team field.

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