DES MOINES - Devin Howard was .04 away from winning a Class 2A 100-meter dash state title a season ago, and you better believe that's chewed away at his insides over the past 12 months.
He now has the chance to put those past ghosts to bed.
The South Hamilton junior stuck to the script and qualified for the finals in both the 100 and 200 yesterday during the opening day of the Iowa Coed State Track and Field Championships on the blue oval inside Drake Stadium.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
South Hamilton junior Devin Howard (left) takes command of his Class 2A 200-meter dash preliminary heat as the runners hit the curve on Thursday during the opening day of the Iowa Coed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Howard won his heat and qualified for the finals in both the 100 and 200.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Devin Howard (left) leans across the finish line during the Class 2A 100-meter dash preliminary round at the Iowa Coed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines on Thursday. He’ll run in the finals of the 100 and 200 on Saturday.
Howard enters Saturday's finals in both events seeded third, meaning he'll run out of Lane 3 in both.
"I'm really happy to be able to move on to the finals and there's a lot of room for improvement," he said. "Hopefully I can come back on Saturday, run even better and compete for a couple state championships."
Howard finished second in his heat of the 100, .005 behind Emmetsburg's Andrew Wellick. Both had their times of 11.32 posted on the scoreboard; Wellick's official time was 11.315 to Howard's 11.320.
The Hawks' speedster says he should have finished stronger.
"I didn't know it was close until the end when I saw him," Howard, who was the 2012 state runner-up in the 100 and fourth-place finisher in the 200, said. "I didn't finish like I normally finish and that's something I need to work on, but I got the nerves out of the way."
Trever Ryen of OA-BCIG ran the fastest qualifying times in both the 100 (11.24) and 200 (22.16).
Howard came back to the track later and cruised to victory in his heat of the 200 in 22.72. West Liberty's Ty Williams had the second-best qualifying time of 22.26.
Truthfully, Howard knows you can go ahead and throw those preliminary times in the trash can. The point was to advance to Saturday's spotlight, a place he's quite familiar with.
"Everything went the way I wanted it to because the goal was just to get to Saturday," he said. "I've been thinking about winning a state title since last year, and (on Saturday) I'm just going to keep telling myself to finish, finish, finish."
South Hamilton will compete in three more events today.
Triston Twedt will attempt to win a second straight medal in the 400 hurdles; he was sixth a season ago.
The Hawk girls' team will compete in both the distance medley relay and high jump. Kali Lucas, Kaitlin Fisher, Allyson Ervin and Meghan Fisher form the relay; Alyssa Hegland and Eliana Lowry will both take part in the high jump.