DES MOINES - That bull's-eye in the center of Keagan Parks' chest - it just got bigger.
Already the sprinter that everyone looked at as the Class 3A favorite when the opening session of the Iowa Co-ed State Track and Field Championships got underway yesterday from Drake Stadium, Parks only solidified his position as the guy to beat with sterling performances in the 100- and 200-meter dash preliminary rounds on the famed blue oval.
The Webster City senior cruised to heat victories in both races, and his times earned him matching No. 1 seeds entering the finals Saturday afternoon.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City senior sprinter Keagan Parks turns the corner and heads for home during the Class 2A 200-meter dash prelims on Thursday in Des Moines. Parks owns the fastest 3A finals qualifying times in the 100 and 200.
"It was a pretty good day," Parks said while trying to catch his breath just minutes after he coasted to the best 200 time in the class of 22.55 seconds. "I said I was going to come down here and handle my business and hopefully Saturday I can come out and be a state champ."
Parks' 200 race wasn't close as the field of eight rounded the corner and headed down the straightaway for the final 100. He already owned a cushion by that point and he even backed off a little as he reached the finish line.
"Keagan looked good and he definitely took his foot off the gas a little bit over the final 30 meters (of the 200)," WCHS head coach Tony Bussan said. "You want your stuff that is supposed to score significant points get through clean and Keagan did that. So he had a great day."
Running straight into a strong wind, Parks fired out of the blocks in the 100 and never trailed en route to a finals-qualifying time of 11.25. The second-fastest time came from friendly rival Brandon Norman of Iowa Falls-Alden (11.29).
"I'll have some competition from Brandon and I love racing against him," Parks said. "Every time we race it's a battle."
Parks was third in the 100 a year ago as a state-meet rookie in the event, but he says the nerves that clung to him then are now nowhere to be found.
"Last year I came down here not knowing what to expect and I was nervous," Parks said. "This year it's a different story."
Freshman Cal Zahn put Webster City on the scoreboard, as he finished the high jump in a three-way tie for eighth. He cleared the first three heights - 5-foot-8, 5-10 and 6-0 - without a miss, but he was unable to clear 6-2.
"Cal was the only freshman in the field and he came away with a state medal, so you have to treat that as a success," Bussan said. "He scored a third of a point and, who knows, that may be important come Saturday."
Lynx junior Boone Myers tossed the discus 143-8 on his second of three throws, which netted him 16th place.
"That's a solid throw for Boone, his second best throw ever," Bussan said.
Dylan Fielder, Lucas Poland, Zach Barrick and Andrew May teamed up for the shuttle hurdle relay and they finished 14th in the prelims in 1:01.41, also the second-best performance of the season.
The 4x800 quartet - Ethan Glenn, Jacob Clabaugh, Nick Thilges and Eric Coleman - turned in a clocking of 8:29.76. The Lynx were 10th in their heat and 18th overall.
Decorah jumped out to a big lead in the team race with 29 points - a 12-point edge on second-place MOC-Floyd Valley. But WCHS is far from out of the hunt for a top-three trophy.
In addition to Parks' sprinting exploits, he'll enter today's long jump competition as the No. 1 seed.
"I'm looking forward to the long jump," Parks said. "My goal is to shoot over 22 (feet) again like I did at Drake and hopefully place in the top three."
May will also have a busy Friday with the 400 low hurdles final and the 110-high hurdle prelims. Parks, May, Zahn and Nathan Nuehring are also a top-three seed in the 4x100, and Nick Erritt enters today's shot put as a potential place winner.
"If Decorah hits the way they're seeded the rest of the way they're going to make it difficult on everybody, but that was known coming in," Bussan said. "We can still get into the 50s with a good day (today) and a strong day on Saturday, and we still think we're in the hunt for a top-three trophy."