WEBSTER CITY - Cal Zahn and the high jump pit inside Drake Stadium in Des Moines are becoming quite familiar with one another.
They will meet up for the third time in a year later this week.
Zahn, a Webster City sophomore, is the lone area track and field athlete to qualify for this week's always highly-anticipated Drake Relays, which will begin on Wednesday and run through Sunday in Des Moines. He also took part in the event a season ago; he cleared 6-feet, 1 inch and tied for 20th in the field of 24.
DFJ file photo by Troy Banning
Webster City’s Cal Zahn clears the high jump bar during the Class 3A state track and field meet at Drake Stadium in Des Moines last May. Now a sophomore, Zahn punched a second consecutive ticket into the Drake Relays field. He will compete with the state’s best on Thursday at 3 p.m.
The high jump competition will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
"In his first two years (of high school) to qualify for Drake is a great honor," WCHS head coach Tony Bussan said of Zahn's accomplishment. "As (former Lynx runner Kyle) Kepler always said, it's kind of the true state meet because it's irrespective of class. So it should be a fun week."
Zahn - eighth at the 3A state meet last spring - earned his way into the Drake Relays with a stellar showing at the Lynx Invitational in Webster City last week. He cleared 6-4 to win gold, and he moved all the way up into a six-way tie for 16th-place on the state's leaderboard.
Last week's effort tied his personal best leap. Bussan says his pupil's goal now is simple: He wants to break the school record of 6-5, which is held by Todd Madsen (1990) and 1993 state runner-up Scott Blessman (1993).
"He's been chasing the school record and the cool thing is if he sets a new personal record it will be a school record too," Bussan said. "If he hits 6-6 then he'll have a heck of a chance of getting a place.
"The key to his success will be controlling himself and embracing the opportunity."
Zahn will be one of three North Central Conference athletes in the high jump mix. Fort Dodge St. Edmond senior Hank Lentsch (6-5) and Algona senior Luke Arrowood (6-4) also qualified.
Burlington senior Justin Randall (6-9) and West Burlington Notre Dame sophomore Jeff Giannettino (6-8) lead the field of qualifiers. Six entrants have cleared 6-6 or higher.
"You could see quite a show in the high jump because there are a number of really good jumpers in the field," Bussan said. "The neat side angle is the three kids from the conference."
South Hamilton junior sprinter Devin Howard missed out on a chance to compete in the Drake Relays by the slimmest of margins. The 2012 2A state runner-up in the 100-meter dash missed the cut by .01.
The top 32 sprinters will compete in the 100. Howard currently sits tied for 33rd.