Sportsmanship, friendship steals the show at Comets’ season opening track and field meet


WAPELLO – While the West Liberty High School girls’ track and field team finished fourth at last Tuesday’s co-ed meet in Wapello and the boys’ team finished in fifth among the six teams in attendance, it was an event that didn’t count toward the scoring that displayed the Comets’ character.

The final tally showed the girls’ squad with 95 points and the boys with 64. Columbus topped the boys’ competition with a final total of 207 points and Durant’s 147 won the meet for the Wildcats’ girls team.

The Wapello girls were second with 112, edging the 111 points scored by Wilton for third place. On the boys’ side, Wilon (99) was runner-up and Louisa-Muscatine (92) rounded out the top three.

But it was during the 200-meter wheelchair race -- an event that didn’t count toward the team score -- that stole the show for West Liberty.In that competition, the Comets’ freshman Payton Maas was joined by teammates Pearson Hall and Alyssa Lenz. Maas finished the race in 1 minute, 23.44 seconds.

It was a spur-of-the-moment thing as the sophomore Hall, who just got done running the 200-meter dash, ran alongside Maas and the freshman Lenz joined.

“(Payton is) just a really good friend,” Hall said, “and I thought it would be a good way to pay her back for that.”

West Liberty scored a win in the 800, as sophomore Ava Morrison recorded the meet’s top time of 2:52 flat. Freshman Mallory Wulf (3:03.27) was fourth.

Hall finished her 200 in 29.65 seconds to take third, one spot behind freshman teammate Kiley Collins, who ran a 29.17. Durant’s Emma Meincke won the race with a 28.20-second finish.

Collins also took fifth in the 100 (13.92), a race won by Wapello’s Ada Boysen (13.34). Hall and Collins teamed up on the Comets’ 800 relay team, along with sophomore Sophie Buysse and Alissa Sanchez to take third (1:59.29).

In the 100 high hurdles, West Liberty senior Sydney Rivera (17.69) was fourth and Sammanthea Goodale was second in the 400 low hurdles with a time of 1:16.76. Durant’s Carlie Jo Fusco won both hurdle races.

Rivera, Lenz and Goodale were joined by junior Laney Esmoil to form a runner-up shuttle hurdle relay. The quartet finished in 1:13.72, a little over a second behind Durant’s winning team.

On the boys’ side, junior Ryker Dengler gave West Liberty a win in the 400 hurdles. He was the only hurdler to break a minute in the race as he finished with a time of 59.25.

“It was the first time I’ve ever ran that race (at a meet),” Dengler said. “I just tried to keep a good pace and do the best I could.”

In the 110 high hurdles, junior Jayce McHugh finished third (16.55), nearly two seconds behind Columbus’ winner Triston Miller.

Dengler was also a member of the Comet boys’ best relay. He ran the first leg of West Liberty’s shuttle hurdle relay team and gave way to Seth Axsom, Owen Daufeldt and McHugh to run a time of 1:08.50 to win the race.

Dengler also teamed with Jonathan Cardona, Axsom and McHugh to take second in the 800 sprint medley with a time of 1:40.50, a race won by Durant (1:39.43), and the Comets’ Daufeldt, Axsom, Torsten Nixt and Ramzes Moran took second in distance medley (4:07.75), crossing the finish about five seconds after the winning team from Wilton.

West Liberty’s Axell Polanco put in four top-five efforts. He took fourth in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 5 inches, fourth in the 200 (23.93), fifth in the 100 (11.37) and third in the 800 relay with Nixt, Daufeldt and Moran (1:42.45).