Coach Darin Arkema, far left, and assistant coach Jeff Corbett, far right, flank the 2022 Class 1A 4x200 state champions – Corder Noun Harder, Ryan Annee, Conner Maston, and Josh Hardenbrook.
Lynnville-Sully’s 4x200 relay team of seniors Ryan Annee and Josh Hardenbrook, junior Conner Maston, and sophomore Corder Noun Harder wrote their names in the Hawks’ record books. They won the 4x200 title for the first time in school history at the Iowa High School State Track and Field Championships held May 19-21 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Not only is this Lynnville-Sully’s first 4x200 state title, but the speedy quartet won the state championship in school-record time from lane eight. Their finishing time of 1:31.27 crushed the previous school record set in 2014 of 1:32.00.
The Hawks’ 4x200 state title was the exclamation point on a state meet loaded with highlights, season-best times, medal-winning performances, and unforgettable memories for the Lynnville-Sully boys and girls teams, their coaches, families, and fans.
The shared mission of the Lynnville-Sully boys track team at the 2022 state track and field meet rang loud and clear – make an impact. The Hawks had six athletes qualify for state in eight events. Over the course of three days, May 19-21, the Hawks put it all on the line and certainly made an impact. L-S was crowned state champions in the 4x200 in a school record-breaking time and brought home top-10 finishes in four other events. The Hawks made their mark surrounded by great family and community support as well as a record-breaking crowd that filled the stands around the blue oval at Drake University.
Day One – Thursday, May 19
Senior Ryan Annee, competing in the long jump at state for the first time, kicked competition off for the Hawks on Thursday. His best and first attempt of 19’9.5” placed him 15th overall. He also had jumps of 19’3.5” and 19’6.25”. Annee didn’t scratch on any of his attempts, which according to coach Darin Arkema, is a feat in itself.
In the shot put, junior Kyle Squires came into the competition seeded 24th. His best toss of 43’10.5” moved him up to an 18th-place finish. He scratched his second attempt and threw the shot put 42’6” on his last attempt. Although he didn’t better his personal-best mark, he did meet his goal of finishing higher than 24th, where he entered the competition at. With Squires’ work ethic and devotion to the weight room, coach Arkema believes the junior will “come ready for even more next season.”
Junior Conner Maston was the Hawks’ first medal winner in the 400m dash at the state track meet. He was seeded 14th going into Thursday afternoon’s race. For the first time all season, Maston had the chance to run this race with fresh legs, having not high jumped or ran a race before this event. His goal was to win his heat and earn a medal, and he did just that. Maston got out of the blocks strong and continued to surge ahead off the last turn and into the homestretch to cross the finish line first in his heat with a personal-best time of 51.35 seconds. That time held strong through the third heat for seventh place overall, and the first piece of hardware for Maston and the team.
Conner Maston was a member of the state championship 4x200 team and medaled in the 400m dash, sprint medley, and 4x400.
Day Two –Friday, May 20
The momentum from the Hawks’ first day at state carried into Friday. While opening day of state track was hot and sunny, Mother Nature added a bit of her own competition, just as she has all track season. Friday was much cooler and slightly breezy, but the Hawks took the weather change in stride and remained focused on their goal to run fast and make an impact.
The Hawks’ 4x200 team consisting of sophomore Corder Noun Harder, Annee, Maston, and senior Josh Hardenbrook, had only run the relay three times going into the state meet. Coach Arkema put the four runners together just a week prior to the state-qualifying meet where they ran a 1:32.86 at Cardinal Relays on May 5. The Hawks knew they had something special in the speedy quartet and were on the hunt for more hardware. One week after their inaugural run together, the 4x200 lowered their time even more at their home meet, and won the event at the state-qualifying meet to advance. At the state meet, the Hawks were placed in lane eight, which has its challenges, given the staggered start. Coach Arkema told the boys their goal was to always have the boys sporting columbia blue only see the blue of the oval and not a single competitor ahead of them. The Hawks did just that – all four ran hard and had clean exchanges to lead the entire race. That lead tightened in the homestretch, but the Hawks had the edge and crossed the finish line in 1:31.27 for the title of Class 1A 4x200 state champions. Noun Harder, Annee, Maston, and Harden-brook also wrote their name in Lynnville-Sully’s record books as the Hawks’ blazing fast, gold-winning time of 1:31.27 crushed the previous school record (1:32.00 set in 2014).
“It is the first 4x200 state championship for our school, and it will forever be a special one to me as they are the first state champion relay or individual boy or girl I have coached in either cross-country or track and field. And they only ran together in that race four times on the season! What was I thinking not running that more often?! We had just started our Friday, but man, what an exciting jolt of adrenaline for the events to come,” exclaimed an excited coach Arkema.
The entire L-S team was riding that championship adrenaline when junior James Gruver took his turn on the track in the 400m hurdles. Gruver, who was seeded 13th going into the race, got out of the blocks quick, attacked the first couple flights of hurdles, and had his trademark kick on the homestretch to win his heat in a personal-best time of 55.33 seconds. That time held up through the third heat for fourth place overall, and Gruver’s first medal of the state meet. Last year at state, Gruver clipped a hurdle and finished outside the top eight. He started the 2022 season nursing an injury but worked hard and made strides through-out the season, making this state run even more meaningful.
Next up was the 4x100 prelims with the quartet of Squires, Annee, Hardenbrook, and Noun Harder taking the stick around the oval. Seeded 10th, they ran the relay in 44.77 seconds, just out of reach of the finals. The Hawks finished in 14th place overall. “At top-end speed, there is little room for error,” explained coach Arkema of the 4x100 race. “They did not have a bad race, they just didn’t have their best and some of the other teams did, and that is all it took.”
The last race for the Hawks on Friday was the 4x400 prelims with Hardenbrook, Noun Harder, Gruver, and Maston. This relay wasn’t initially on coach Arkema’s radar as a possible event to make state. As he looks back at his thought process, coach Arkema recalls he wrestled with the idea. “Keep these four guys available for the race at the very end of the night meant they weren’t going to be able to be in an event earlier,” said Arkema, referring to his state-qualifying planning process. “Corder was one of the faster guys in the 100 at our site. Josh could have had a good shot in the 200. Conner was the best high jumper at our site. And I decided to keep all three of them out of the individual event they had a chance to qualify for state in. Their message to me, from each of them, was ‘Coach, we could maybe qualify to state in an open, but we think we can place and medal in the relays.’” Coach Arkema moved forward with the 4x400, and the risk paid off. At state, L-S hoped to better their fifth-place seeding and ensure a spot in the finals, and they did just that. “We got great legs from each of them and some fast splits,” said coach Arkema, which led to the 4x400 team running a season-best time of 3:28.45 in the prelims to advance to finals.
Day Three – Saturday, May 21
Saturday was a bookend day for the Hawks, who kicked off the cool day with the sprint medley and ran in the final race of the day. In the sprint med, the Hawks had an inside lane in the second-fastest heat to get out and chase people down. The Hawks had clean exchanges between Squires, Noun Harder, Harden-brook, and Maston. Maston chased down the anchor in front of him to cross the finish line in second place of the heat in a season-best time of 1:36.89, which was good for seventh place overall. Squires earned his first medal of the meet with the seventh-place finish, and the other three Hawks in the sprint medley added to their growing medal collection.
In the Hawks’ final race of the state meet, the 4x400, Hardenbrook, Noun Harder, Gruver, and Maston gave everything they had after three long, exhilarating, and adrenaline-pumping days of state track. The competition was tight throughout the race, and the Hawks put it all on the line with hopes of adding another medal to their tally. Each runner battled for position, running alongside and handing off the baton in a crowd of fierce competitors all after the same goal. The Hawks were able to pass a competitor in the final five meters to grab third place overall in a time of 3:29.11.
Coach Arkema described his athletes’ performances as “Historic! Exhilarating! Amazing! Dream come true!” And, he’s right. Of the six Hawks who competed, all came home with at least one medal, and five of the eight events placed. Maston ended the 2022 state meet with four medals, Noun Harder and Hardenbrook collected three, Gruver brought home two, and Annee and Squires each had one. The Hawks had a great following in the stands and back at school and home, where fans watched the races via livestream. “It’s just an awesome feeling and very humbling for me as coach to have the opportunity to be teaching and coaching at L-S, to be working with a great group of young men and their parents, to have a tremendous assistant in coach Corbett, to have had both my boys along with me on Friday to share in the special moment, and to be supported by my wife and family, the school staff, and the community,” said coach Arkema.