GILBERT – The game face never cracked, not when Cassidy Nerland moved to the front of the field, not even when she realized a school record was hers – now and forever – Monday afternoon.
The scowl never disappeared, even though inwardly she had to be celebrating.
Competing for Webster City as part of a sharing agreement, but still very much a Northeast Hamilton Trojet, the freshman powerhouse took over the Class A shot put competition at the Bengal Relays as frigid temperatures and whipping winds forced onlookers to huddle under blankets.
Nerland’s second throw measured out at 39 feet, 9.5 inches – good enough to take the gold medal and give her the all-time lead at Northeast Hamilton. The fact that she was wearing the purple and gold of the Lynx was inconsequential.
Just for good measure, Nerland uncorked a toss of 39-6.5 on her fourth and final throw – the second-best in NEH history.
“She had a great series of throws and I think if it had been warmer (the record) would have been broken by a little more,” WCHS head coach Clint Howard said. “For a freshman, her mindset and the way she approaches things is like a senior. She just keeps getting better and better.”
Nerland’s heave would have been good enough to qualify her for the Drake Relays later this week had the cut-off time not ended last Thursday. She currently sits 18th in the state and seventh in Class 3A.
Nerland added a silver medal in the discus (99-4) less than an hour later and her 18 accrued points were significant in the Lynx race to a third-place result with 117 total points. Host Gilbert (192) and runner-up Roland-Story (170) were well in front of the field.
Despite missing several key cogs, most notably long jumper and sprinter Carrie Gerdes, WCHS claimed nine medals and finished in the top six on 19 occasions. There were four double places, three coming in the field events.
Catie Boyd followed Nerland’s lead with a fourth-place finish in the discus (95-3) and fifth-place result in the shot put (32-9). Hannah Myers (4-8) and Haley Flaws (4-8) went 4-5 in the high jump.
“I was proud of the way the girls competed in the (weather) conditions that we had,” Howard said.
Speedster Allie Flaws continued to round back into form with another medal-filled evening. The two-time state place winner beat everyone to the line in the 100-meter dash (12.70 seconds) and was second in the 200 (27.50).
Allie Flaws also brought the team’s 4×100 relay back from the middle of the pack to a second-place finish in 54.80.
“Allie had her best night of the season,” Howard said. “She just keeps getting better and she’s finding her confidence.”
Haley Johnson, another of the team’s talented freshmen, was a big contributor as well with bronze medal showings in the open 400 (1:07.90) and 1,500 (5:56.50). WCHS also took third in the shuttle hurdle (1:18.50) and 4×200 (2:02.90) relays.
As a competitor in Class B, South Hamilton captured four of its six medals in relay events and piled up 90 points to take fifth. West Marshall (167) and CMB (147) occupied the top two slots.
“For this meet we thought we would try the relays out and see what we could do,” South Hamilton head coach Dan Brodie said. “We were competitive. We knew the times weren’t going to be as low as we had hoped, but I was happy they went out and competed.”
Freshman Anna Moss was a member of both of the Hawks’ winning relays – the 4×800 (11:23.70) and sprint medley (2:03.70). Allyson Ervin ran the opening leg on the 4×800 and later secured second place in the 400 hurdles (1:14.90).
The Hawks were also third in the distance medley (4:51.20) and 4×400 (4:38.50).
South Hamilton’s only individual win came from high jumper Alyssa Hegland, who cleared 4-10 before shutting it down.