The Platteview girls track and field team dominated opponents throughout the season, while cruising to a district title. But adversity hit the Trojans in the Class B State Meet at Burke Saturday.
The Trojans continued to fight through their struggles to finish as the Class B State runner-up with 61 points, just three points behind state champion Syracuse. It’s the Trojans best finish in school history.
“We set our goals the highest it could be. We wanted to make Platteview history, in that way,” Platteview coach Christina Elder said. “It didn’t completely work, but I wanted it to be a lesson learned for them, too.
“I told them, ‘We are not going to leave this meet with our heads down at all. We need to celebrate this because it’s a huge deal. You’re about to go down as one of the best teams to ever come through this school.’ Our last memory of this needed to be a happy one.”
The state meet started out promising for Platteview. On Friday, Carrie Simonson started state with a second-place finish in the long jump with a leap of 18-06 to earn eight points for the team.
“It was pretty big because I was sitting fourth going in, so getting second was kind of a surprise,” Simonson said. “It helped my mindset for the rest of the weekend.”
Later on Friday in the 3,200-meter run, Madison Nash placed third with a time of 12:02.41 to earn the Trojans six more team points. Nash finished 15 spots ahead from 2018 when she placed 18th.
“It’s a lot different when you place at a state meet,” Nash said. “I think I had a little more confidence going into it than I had a day or two before.”
The moment comes without surprise. When taking the All-ITG cross country photo in November, Nash was running around Walnut Creek Lake before having her photo snapped.
The hard work paid off in May, almost six months later.
“I really picked up my mileage over this past track season, so I think that’s helped a lot, too,” Nash said.
In Saturday’s finals, the Trojans made their first big splash with the 400 relay team of Jacque McCullough, Abby Husing, Anna Koehler and Simonson.
McCullough finished two spots out of medaling in the 800 before the 400 races started. The senior kept her confidence to give the Trojans a fast start to open the race.
Koehler and Husing kept the momentum swinging for the Trojans before Simonson turned on the boosters to finish off the race with a time of 49.55 for a first-place finish and 10 team points.
“We’ve worked three years for this and to finally be able to get the gold medal,” Husing said. “It’s awesome.”
This is the third year the foursome has run together at state in the 400 relay. In 2017, they finished 13th before notching sixth place in 2018.
“We have experience together. We’ve all done this before,” Koehler said. “We knew what we were getting into and we knew it was going to be tough, but we fought through it and we did it.”
Then uncharacteristic misfortunes hit for the Trojans. After finishing third in the prelims on Friday, Teri Zanker fell in the beginning on the 100 hurdles to finish eighth in the event.
“She’s never experienced anything like that,” Elder said. “I told her, ‘Every great hurdler falls at some point’. The fact that she was able to get herself back up again after hurting her knee and then finishing the race shows her character so much. “
If things could get anymore frustrating for Zanker. With a running schedule of field events because of potential weather, Zanker was competing in the high jump when the Class B 300-meter hurdles were just minutes away.
“I just wanted her to focus on high jump when at high jump, but she couldn’t. That was so hard, but I think it was a huge lesson learned for Teri, too. Just how to become mentally strong and it really challenged her that day,” Elder said.
Zanker was eliminated in the high jump and then went straight into the hurdles, where she placed fifth. Through it all, the senior kept encouraging her teammates and it wasn’t until the meet was over before she started to get down on herself.
“She always been the rock on the team. She’s been through so much (recently). Just the fact she was able to be the ultimate encourager and she is such a great teammate,” Elder said. “Just the fact she put it behind her and it was all about her teammates. That’s what kind of leader she is.”
Simonson earned another runner-up finish in the 100 run with a time of 12.32 for another eight team points. Simonson added her third runner-up finish of the state meet in the 200 later in the day.
But Simonson still faced a little bit of adversity herself despite earning three second-place finishes. Lexington’s Madison Smith topped Simonson in all three events for gold.
“I just had so many people that wanted me to finally beat her,” Simonson said. “So I just kind of felt a lot of pressure on me, I think.”
Koehler entered the meet defending her crown as the Class B state champion in the high jump from last season.
The high jump came down to her and Syracuse’s Jessica Moss. In the end, Moss edged Koehler 5-06 to 5-05 for Koehler to finish as the state runner-up. The jump for the Trojan junior was her PR and tied the school record.
The junior then placed seventh in the 200 for a total of 10 points in the two events.
“She is probably one of the most competitive girls I’ve ever met. She’s bummed,” Elder said. “That was hard on her, but she’s going to come back next year with even more fire.”
Entering the final event of the meet, the Trojans led Syracuse by one point with the 1,600 relay left. With both teams in the final race, whichever team beat the other would be crowned Class B team champions.
Back in the middle of April during an interview, Koehler said she didn’t care for her individual medals. She just wanted to finish as a team and that’s what they got with the 1,600 relay.
The relay team of Halle Johnson, Zanker, Koehler and McCullough each faced adversity in the state meet but came together for one last push. Despite posting a personal best time, 4:08.82, they came up just three seconds later than Syracuse to finish third in the race and second as a team.
“We knew it was coming,” Koehler said. “We knew it was just going to be whoever grinded their teeth the hardest and they happened to do it today.”
It’s a disappointing finish for the Trojans who had high first-place aspirations heading into the meet, but Koehler said it best.
“We ran against every competition we could’ve and I think we had a damn good year,” Koehler said.
• The Platteview boys only had one state medalist in the two-day meet.
Senior Jake Nelson earned an eighth-place finish in the shot put with a throw of 51-01.5 for the only Platteview team point.