With a bevy of talent returning from last season’s sixth-place finishing team at state, this season’s Ankeny Centennial boys’ track team was destined for success.
The Jags improved on last year’s performance with a fifth-place finish at the state track meet earlier this month.
It was Riley Moss, the record-breaking 110-meter hurdling sensation, and Camden Cox, a long-distance extraordinaire, that led the charge. One or the other was involved in all six medals Centennial earned at the meet.
Although a state title was the goal for Moss, Cox and Co., they’re not disappointed with the top-five finish.
“We definitely wanted to win the title, but some things just didn’t go our way,” Cox said. “We had big expectations and wouldn’t have been surprised if things had gone a lot better. But we aren’t disappointed with how things went.”
Cox, a senior who will run at Southern Utah after completing a two year Latter-day Saints mission, walked away from the Blue Oval as a 1,600-meter state champ.
He had been feeling really sick throughout the week, and as a result, had a disappointing 3,200-meter run the first day of the meet.
By the second day, Cox felt a little bit better; well enough to help anchor the Jags to a sixth-place finish in the distance medley, along with Josh Decker, Liam Murphy and Brendan Hoy. By Saturday, when he was getting ready for his final race, the 1,600-meter, he didn’t know exactly what to expect.
“Coming into Saturday, all knew was I wanted to give it my all for my last race. Whether that was winning, though I didn’t really expect that, or it was just leaving it all out there.”
Cox took a different approach when he was warming up. He scaled back his routine and only warmed up a couple of minutes. He wanted to conserve energy.
Through the first 800 meters, he felt pretty good. By the third lap, he decided to make a huge move, and positioned himself among the leaders.
In the final 150 meters, Cox pulled ahead and beat out his friend, Tim Sindt from Ankeny, by .34 seconds.
“It was awesome to finish out with Tim; we’re pretty good friends,” Cox said. “And it meant a lot to win my last high school race, that was huge.”
Ankeny’s Sindt, who was the state cross country champ last fall, was the best runner for the Hawks at Drake Stadium. In addition to his runner-up finish in the 1,600 meters, he placed third in the 3,200 meters.
The Hawks finished tied for 13th at the state meet, and the outlook for 2019 is sunny. Their 4×110-meter hurdles unit finished fourth, and is the only medal-winning team that will return all four runners — Cael Boyd, Max Griffin, Mason Thompson, Connor Niffenegger — next season.
Moss’ track career ends with a bang
Moss, who set the all-time state record for the 110-meter hurdles last month at the Drake Relays, was the biggest winner for the Jags at state.
The future Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back won the 110-meter hurdles, anchored the first-place 4×200-meter, anchored the runner-up 4×100-meter and anchored the seventh-place 4×110-meter shuttle hurdle.
Riley Moss, Ankeny Centennial (Photo: Courtesy Ankeny Centennial)
The Moss-led 4×200-meter team saved their best for last. Along with Ryan Van Baale, Avery Gates and Brendan Hoy, Moss helped the Jags win the event with a time of 1 minute, 27.99 seconds. That was the unit’s best time of the season, which was less than one second removed from an all-time state record.
It’s been an exceptionally successful season for Moss. So much so, that it became a spectacle whenever the senior would run.
“Pretty much every single meet when he was about to run, everyone watches. He’s one of the all-time best in Iowa. You never knew when he was going to have that record run,” Cox said.
“He goes 110 percent at every single race. I think that was something really cool about him, is he’ll give his best no matter what.”
Centennial girls finish 14th at state
A goal coming into the season the Ankeny Centennial girls’ track teams was a top-10 finish at state.
Although they would not accomplish the goal — the Jags finished 14th — there were plenty of accomplishments.
Senior Karri Pippet enjoyed great success on the Blue Oval. After consecutive years of narrowly missing out on a medal in the 400-meter hurdles, she earned one this season, finishing seventh in the event.
Pippet knew she likely had to be one of the top two girls in the second heat in order to place. She pulled that off. And when the dust had settled after the third and final heat, the results were in her favor.
She didn’t know right away that she had placed, and only found out when she approached her coaches and teammates shortly after the race.
When her teammates started giving her hugs, Pippet realized that she had medaled.
“It was amazing, usually after the race I’m able to tell if I’m a placer. And if I would have been paying better attention, I could have figured it out. But, I don’t know what was going through my head that I didn’t even notice,” Pippet said.
Pippet also brought home a medal — along with Katie Petersen, Meg Ridout and Calea Jones — in the 4×100-meter shuttle hurdle. Jones, like Pippet, brought home two medals from Drake Stadium last weekend — she tied for third in the high-jump — and the sophomore headlines a surging youth movement for the Centennial girls’ track team.
Of the nine girls who medaled at the state tourney for Centennial, six of them will be back next season, five of those six were underclassmen this season.
“The underclassmen are super determined, they were so much fun to run against. They all put in 110 percent effort all the time,” Pippet said. “In these next couple of years, as they keep developing, the Centennial program will really thrive.”
With the wealth of talent talent returning next season, that much-desired top-10 finish could certainly be within reach. But this season’s 14th-place finish — which is tied for the second-best in school history — was no small feat.
“I’m proud of the 14th, (but) we were aiming for a top-10. A couple of our relays were so close to getting a medal, and it just didn’t work out where we got that top-10,” Pippet said. “It just proves how good the other teams are, that we’re constantly competing against.”
Ankeny girls break school record
The Ankeny girls smashed a school record when Eva van de Mortel, Peyton Daugherty, Mytika Mayberry and Jasmine Rumley clocked in at 48.01 seconds in the 4×100-meter relay prelims.
That was the best time in the prelims at state, and was just .12 seconds removed from the all-time state-meet record of 47.89 set by Iowa City West in 2010.
The foursome followed that blazing performance with a 48.29 time in the finals, good enough for third-place. Linn-Mar clocked in at an even 48 seconds, and second-place Waukee crossed the finish line at 48.26.
The Hawks will have their sights set on a state title in the 4×100-meter relay the next two seasons. Although Daughtery has graduated, Van de Mortel and Mayberry are freshman, anchor Rumley is a sophomore.