State champion plans to lead girls track and field team

Long jumper, two other letter winners return for WLHS


With three returning letter winners, including a defending state champion, the West Liberty High School girls’ track and field team may be small in numbers, but big on talent and heart.

Coached for the third year by Michael Hart and new assistant coach Jackie Henderson, the Comets will be working on bettering individual performances as the season wears on, starting with multiple team meet this Saturday at Iowa City Regina, beginning at noon.

There are just nine members on the team this year including three junior letter winners, Macy Daufeldt, Mylei Henderson and Grace Evans, who helped the Comets win one meet in 2019, finish second in two other meets and finish in the middle of the pack in the giant conference meet.

Other members of the team include Riley Hahn, Sammy Goodale, Layla Guerra, Amerie Alvarado, Sydney Rivera and Laney Esmoil.

The coach said driving the team back from complacency because of the COVID-19 pandemic might be the toughest part of his job this year in motivating the team, noting they just weren’t active like they would have been in a regular year.

Hart said he simply hopes to develop his athletes as best as possible this season, getting them ready for major meets.

He said the girls are “having a lot of fun” and are “working really well together,” showing competitiveness in games and activities during practice that he hopes translate over to the track and field competitions.

The star of his team is Daufeldt, the 6-0 long jumper who was a state champion as a freshman in 2019, leaping a personal best 17-7 ¾ for the Gold medal, and is a returning qualifier in the Drake Relays in Des Moines as well. The jump came on her third and final leap at the meet at Drake Stadium.

“We’re definitely excited to see what she can accomplish this year and also how her experiences can help our younger athletes on the team,” Hart said.

West Liberty hosts its own meet on Tuesday, April 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m. with multiple teams coming to the track, to be followed by a meet with Clear Creek Amana on April 9.

Meets with Wilton, Tipton and Durant follow on April 12, April 15 and April 20 respectively before an outing at Mid-Prairie on April 22, Anamosa on April 27 and then hosting the final regular season meet of the season on April 30.

The River Valley Conference meet will be held Thursday, May 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Anamosa.