Hawks’ Busch sees 2A qualifier as a chance to dominate
SH boys, girls enter meet seeded first or second in a combined 11 events
JEWELL — Somewhat quiet, but ultra confident by nature, South Hamilton junior Austin Busch is taking a business approach into Thursday’s Class 2A State Qualifying Meet at West Marshall High School.
He doesn’t just want to win the shot put and discus. He wants to dominate. And he wants to leave an impression on the rest of the state — he’s coming for gold a week later.
“He doesn’t do much talking at practice, he just goes out and throws,” South Hamilton boys’ track and field head coach Darrell Paulsen said. “He wants to be the No. 1 seed in both events going to state.”
It’s not a stretch to think Busch can do it. The Hawks’ school record holder in both events currently ranks first in 2A in the shot put (55 feet, 7 inches) and second in the discus (164-2).
The first- and second-place finishers in each event, plus the next eight best performances from across the state, will qualify for next week’s state meet at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Busch is one of many South Hamilton competitors who have their eyes on state, but nothing will be handed to them against a quality field that includes the likes of Roland-Story, Van Meter, Des Moines Christian and Pella Christian, among others.
“It’s going to be tough,” Paulsen said.
In addition to Busch, the Hawks will be seeded in the top three in six other events at the qualifier, highlighted by top seeds for Tanner Blue in the 110-meter high hurdles and the distance medley relay of Brock Galetich, Kyler Hodnefield, Ty Skartvedt and Freddie Lewis.
Lewis is also the heartbeat of the Hawks’ second-seeded 4×800 relay, and he’s No. 3 in the open 800 as well. Galetich sits third in the 100 and also as part of the Hawks’ sprint medley relay alongside Chayton Ewurs, Hodnefield and Lewis.
The biggest obstacle for Paulsen was setting his lineup. He opted to pull Lewis out of the 400 in favor of the three relays, and Blue — ranked fourth in the high hurdles in 2A — was also pulled out of the 400 low hurdles.
“It’s a strong field, but I think we’ll hold our own,” Paulsen said. “I think we’ll be right up there, but we’ve got to be in the top three (in events). Fourth probably won’t do us any good.”
The South Hamilton girls’ team has equally high expectations, specifically from its sprint relays. The Hawks will step onto the track Thursday with the No. 1 seed in the 4×100 and 4×200, and they’ll be second in the 4×400 and sprint medley.
Van Meter appears to be the toughest foe in all of the relays. The Bulldogs are loaded with sprinters and middle distance runners.
“You’ve got to be impressed with the way Van Meter is running,” South Hamilton girls’ head coach Dan Brodie said. “They seem to be good at just about every position, so it will be tough.
“We are who we are and we’ve proven that we’re going to be a formidable match-up in the sprint races. I think we have some outside chances in other spots too.”
Kate Barkema, Kelbe Krumm, Tanna Thompson and Ashlyn Erickson qualified the Hawks for the Drake Relays in the 4×100, and they’ll run it together, as well as the sprint medley, at the qualifier. Erickson will compete in the open 400 and Abby Ervin will step into her role with the other three in the 4×200.
South Hamilton is ranked ninth in 2A in the 4×200, 11th in the 4×100 and 13th in the sprint medley.
“All of those girls keep showing up and do what we ask at a really high level,” Brodie said.
Brodie also said that discus thrower Mackenzy Grady will return to competition after several weeks on the sideline due to a hamstring injury. The school record holder in the event (121 feet, 23⁄4 inches) will be seeded second and is No. 9 in the class.
“Mac is another of those hyper-competitive personalities and she’s going to will herself to do it,” Brodie said. “But it’s an uphill battle for her because there are some talented throwers in the discus.”
AT A GLANCE
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: West Marshall High School, State Center.
Teams: Colfax-Mingo, Des Moines Christian, East Marshall, I-35, PCM, Pella Christian, Pleasantville, Roland-Story, South Hamilton, Van Meter, West Marshall, Woodward-Granger.
Note: The first- and second-place finishers in each event will automatically qualify for state. Eight wildcard entrants from across the state will be added on Friday.