Knights seek a five-peat

It has never been done.

In 55 years that the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union has offered girls track and field, no school has ever reeled off five consecutive team titles. 

Davenport Assumption can become the first this weekend. It joined Atlantic, North Tama and Tipton as the only programs to win four straight last spring.

Unlike last year when the Knights won Class 3A by 46 1/2 points over Pella, this expects to be a tighter race.

Assumption is entered in 12 events and could double score in five individual races (100, 200, 400, 800 and 1,500).

Middle distance ace Joy Ripslinger is trying to become the first girl in state history to win the 400, 800, 1,500 and 3,000 in the same state meet. Sophomore sprinter Carly King, senior Jasmine Harris and junior Julia Schumacher are in position to add substantial points in individual events.

"These kids have put themselves in the position to be there," coach Tim O'Neill said after the state-qualifying meet. "We always want to be relevant in every race we run in, every event we compete in. That comes with some pressure.

"The girls do a phenomenal job. They answer the bell every single time that they come to race. They find a way to get things done.”

Based on state-qualifying meet results, Pella is projected to score around 85 points. The Little Dutch are particularly strong in the hurdle events. Dubuque Wahlert appears to be the next biggest challenger to Assumption and Pella.

North Scott's jumping duo

North Scott senior Erica Loussaert has cleared 5 feet, 6 inches this spring in the high jump and was a place winner at the Drake Relays. Her teammate, junior Alexis Hayes, set a personal-best 5-4 last week to win the state qualifier.

Those heights rank among the top five in Class 4A this season. Loussaert or Hayes could become North Scott's first girls state high jump champion.

In fact, North Scott has not won an event at the state meet since its runner-up team in 1985. Kim Schneckloth took the 800 and 1,500 while Wendy Bare prevailed in the 3,000 that season.

Loussaert is competing in a maximum four events. She is seeded seventh in the 100 hurdles, anchors a sixth-seeded shuttle hurdle relay squad and leads off the distance medley.

Can anybody catch Waukee?

Pleasant Valley has the Class 4A state-meet scoring record with 99 points in 2015. Waukee is in position to obliterate that total.

Based on state-qualifying meet results, the Warriors are projected to score 125 points. They are expected to score in 15 of the 19 events. Other than the high jump, long jump and the three sprints, Waukee could tally multiple points in every event. 

It appears Iowa City West is the only school with a shot at chasing them down. The Women of Troy are strong in the throws, possess a strong hurdler in Valerie Welch and a good distance crew led by Bailey Nock and Gabby Skopec.

PV is in the hunt for its third straight team trophy. Second a year ago to Waukee, the Spartans are entered in 15 events and seeded among the top eight in nine of those.

Bettendorf is in 14 events. The Bulldogs' Alli Wroblewski has been fifth each of the past two years in the 400. Bettendorf's 3,200 and sprint medley relays are each in the final heat and seeded among the top six.

RVC is front and center

Based on state-qualifying results, the River Valley Conference projects to have four teams in the thick of the Class 2A team race.

Cascade, aiming for its third title in the last four years, is the decisive favorite. Mid-Prairie, Monticello and North Cedar, also part of the RVC, are expected to be in the mix for a team trophy (top three). 

North Cedar enters with the top two seeds in the 400 with Grace Proesch and Cassie Cox. The Knights also own the top 2A time in the 1,600 relay and should factor into the top five of the sprint medley relay. 

The RVC had three in the top five last year with Cascade (first), Monticello (third) and Northeast (five). 

Another throws title for Clinton County?

Clinton's Sydney Laufenberg and Erika Hammond swept the Class 4A discus and shot put last season. 

Clinton County has another strong contender in the throws this season. Just a few miles down the road in Camanche, senior Courtney Schnoor enters as one of the Class 2A favorites in the shot put and is seeded eighth in the discus.

Schnoor, headed to play basketball at Upper Iowa University next season, threw 40 feet, 8 inches at the Tipton state qualifier, the best mark posted across the state. Her season best is 41-8 1/2, which is second in 2A behind North Fayette Valley's Marin Ehler (42-8).

Dawn O'Leary is Camanche's only girls' shot put champion in 1990. 

— Matt Coss

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