DES MOINES — Teamwork really does make the dream work.
Not many people gave the New London High School boys track and field team much of a chance coming into the Class 1A state track and meet. All the talk was about Lisbon and star runner Kole Becker and Earlham and their fantastic distance runners.
In the end, it was New London hoisting the 1A team trophy late Saturday afternoon at Drake Stadium.
New London finished with 68 points. Earlham was second with 66 points, while Lisbon was third with 61 points.
For the Tigers, it truly was a total team effort.
“This is my last race of the weekend and our team is fighting for a trophy, so I might as well give them what I have. It may not be my best, but I tried my hardest to give them everything I have,” New London junior Rylan Martin said.
Martin pushed through the pain from a severely sprained ankle suffered Friday in the distance medley relay to place seventh in the 800-meter run on Saturday morning in 2 minutes, 2.27 seconds.
“I looked up at the board to see if anyone was coming. I crossed my right leg over my left and sprained it. They said I strained a couple muscles in my leg. If it was a normal meet, I probably would have taken a good amount of time off.”
This was about guts, grits and sheer determination. Individually, the Tigers were solid. Together, they were unstoppable.
Senior Josh Catala, nursing an injury, pulled out of the 200 final to focus on the 4×100 to give his team the best chance to score maximum points.
In the end, it was Catala who carried the baton home, finishing the 4×100 in 43.59, giving the Tigers fourth place and securing their first state team championship.
“I am injured. That’s why I didn’t run the 200. I didn’t want to rush this relay,” said Catala, who is nursing a quadriceps injury. “This is great. This is huge not only for us but for the New London school and the New London community.”
“A state championship for New London. It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Boden Pickle, who ran the lead leg.
“Our mind was on first. But at the end of the day, hey, we won it all,” said Reean Seberg, who ran the third leg. “We bonded as a team. We stuck together and we went out and got the gold.”
“We’ve had our eye on this all year. We had a rough start, but we came out in conference and district and now state,” said Joel Lacy, who ran the second leg. “Now we’re here. We’re best in the state.”
“Of all my races, I thought this was going to be the hardest for me to get a medal in, just because there are so many fast guys out there,” senior Seth Bailey said after placing fourth in the 800 in 1:59.02, a new personal record. “There’s a lot of guys who came back from last year. I knew it was going to be a dogfight, but we got it, so it’s all good.”
Every single point proved to be crucial.
“I did what I usually do. I put it down on people and not give any spots to any people, just keep pushing ahead,” Bailey said after placing fourth in the 1,600 in 4:31.80. “It’s not exactly where I wanted to be, but in the end we got the job done and that’s all that matters. I was hurting pretty bad after that 800 and getting a new PR. I could definitely feel it in my legs.”
Senior Alexander Julian, one of the top cross country runners in the state and a member of Danville-New London’s Class 2A state cross country championship team in 2020, gutted out a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 in 4:32.29.
Bailey and Julian’s combined nine points in the 1,600 offset Earlham’s eight points with its second-place finish in the 1,600.
“That was the goal to come out with as many points as possible to win the team title. We wanted to give our 4×100 team the best chance possible to give us the team title and bring home a trophy,” Julian said. “My strategy was to hold on for as long as I could and then the last lap, give it my all. Whoever was in front of me, I was going to try to track them down and that’s what I did.”
In the end, it was a total team effort, and a total community effort.
Every single point counted.
“Obviously we’ve got a smaller squad than most, but everyone came out here and performed well and did their job. It seems so surreal that we came out here and pulls it off,” senior Cam Kasel said. “We like to push each other a lot during practice. We want to see each other succeed. We have a different bond over here. Everyone wants to see each other succeed just as much as they want to see themselves succeed. I think that’s why we’re so successful.”
“Every day in practice it’s about pushing each other to be better. When you get to the competition it’s just fun. That’s supposed to be the fun part. You want to prepare your teammates to win the race,” said junior Kade Benjamin, who won the high jump title on Friday. “It’s huge. It our first nine in New London’s history — boys or girls. Every point mattered. Maybe we could have run better, but it doesn’t matter. We did what we had to do and we came out on top. No one can take this away from us.”
“Our distance, our sprinters, our jumpers and our throwers all worked together. It has really paid off. It’s a community effort,” said senior Carter Allen, who took third in the shot put and second in the discus. “It means the world to me, especially contributing team points. Even though I didn’t get both those state titles like I wanted, it was great to be a part of this. Everyone contributed equally. It was a whole team effort.”
Several years ago, the New London community passed a bond issue to build a new track.
It was worth every single penny.
“With out that track we wouldn’t be up here today. We’d be running that old dirt track,” Allen said.