RAINMAKER: Whitmore sloshes his way to state bronze in 400 hurdles
Lynx boys ride roller coaster of emotions at state meet
DES MOINES — Garrett Whitmore and Max Harfst stepped onto the blue oval inside Drake Stadium at different times, but with the same goal.
It was all about the medal.
Whitmore walked off it with a smile on his face and a sense of accomplishment. A little less than 24 hours later Harfst shuffled off it, in a daze while silently asking himself one question: What in the heck just happened?
Whitmore, a Webster City junior, earned the Class 3A bronze medal in the 400-meter hurdles on a rainy Friday at the Iowa High School State Track And Field Championships. Harfst, a senior who was expected to contend in the 800, had his dream ripped from his clutches through no fault of his own and silently walked away in 22nd place on Saturday.
The joy and agony of sports, the Lynx now know them both all too well.
A sprinter first, in his mind anyway, a strong case was made that Whitmore may indeed be a hurdler after he lowered his own school-record time to 54.17 seconds en route a third-place finish behind state champion Joven Nelson (52.02) of Nevada and Bret Price (53.21) of Boone, both seniors.
“I was surprised, but once you get to the state meet nothing is set in stone and I proved that,” Whitmore said of his performance and place. “At the 100 I could tell I was behind, so I thought I’ve got to go and
I finished as hard as I could. I didn’t hold back.”
Nelson and Price had pulled away by the time the field reached the final hurdle. With a pack as he cleared the last barrier, Whitmore used his sprinter’s speed over the final 20 meters to pull into third.
Knowing he’ll be the highest-placing returner a year from now, Whitmore has already begun thinking about the possibilities. And he’s ready to admit it: He’s a hurdler.
“I’ve already started thinking about (next season) and that’s cool,” he said “I might have a chance to win a state title.”
Harfst thought he would be celebrating after his favorite race Saturday morning. Seeded fourth in the 800, he was right with the large pack of runners on the outside and just preparing to make his move at the bell lap when disaster struck.
As the pack began to round the curve, ADM’s Nate Mueller tripped on the right leg of Atlantic’s Craig Alan Becker and tumbled to the track. Running right behind Mueller, Harfst got wrapped up in the carnage and went down as well. Harfst landed on his stomach, rolled, and by the time he was able to get to his feet the pack and left him in the rearview mirror.
Harfst crossed in 2:07.54.
“I know I have the capability to compete with the best in the state and I opened up exactly the way I wanted to,” Harfst said. “I started to make my move and then the kid fell and I couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve worked pretty hard for this … it’s frustrating because it was out of my control.”
WCHS head coach Chad Hisler says the unfortunate event doesn’t erase all that Harfst accomplished.
“Max had a tremendous senior season,” he said. “It is definitely not the ending he or any of us wanted, but it doesn’t diminish all he has done for our program.”
Whitmore ran on the Lynx 4×100 and 4×200 relays in Friday’s deluge. Competing alongside Carson Struchen, Trey Mathis and Lincoln LaSourd, the quartet placed 13th in the 4×100 prelims in 44.40. The cutoff to reach the finals was 44.12.
“The 4×100 ran their second best time of the season and we were solid,” Hisler said.
In the 4×200, the same foursome won its heat in 1:32.00 and looked to be in line to claim the sixth-place medal, but a pass outside of the exchange zone led to a disqualification.
“The 4×200, we were flying and ran the best we have all year,” Hisler said. “It was tough not to get that medal because that group has done a great job and improved all year.”
Austin Lampman placed 23rd in the shot put with a top toss of 45 feet. The torrential rains on Friday forced the event to be moved inside Drake Stadium, but even there the throwers couldn’t get away from the water. Lampman threw out of a flooded ring.
“Austin had to battle crazy conditions,” Hisler said. “He also has put a lot of time into training and continued to improve all year.”