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DES MOINES — Carly King had a 400-meter state championship in her grasp last year. It was snatched away by her teammate in the closing meters.

So when the Davenport Assumption junior came down the front stretch clinging to the lead again Thursday night, her focus was on one thing.

“I knew this year I had to finish the race better,” King said.

Mission accomplished.

After close calls the past two seasons, King turned in a career-best time of 56.09 seconds to become the third Assumption runner in the last seven years to claim the Class 3A 400 meters inside Drake Stadium.

“It doesn’t feel great letting one go in the last 20 meters of a race,” King said. “I think this year I was 100 percent focused on my own race and how I could win and not worrying about racing whoever was in the lanes around me.

“It was definitely a better finish this time around.”

King was nip-and-tuck with Sioux City Heelan’s Madison Jochum coming around the final curve. King was able to surge ahead and stave off Jochum, last year’s runner-up, for her second individual state title.

She joins Joy Ripslinger, last year’s winner, and Maddie Irmen as Assumption runners to win the 400 since 2012.

It was a hectic Thursday for King, who qualified for the finals of the 100 and 200.

“I’m definitely going to sleep well tonight,” she said.

King has spent the past year improving on the second half of the 400 race. With her sprinter speed, she never has had trouble getting out of the blocks.

“To hold on and finish strong is something I’m continually working on,” King said. “It feels good to put that race together finally.”

Teammate Laney Fitzpatrick was seventh in the 400.

Assumption, vying for a sixth straight title, finished the opening day with 12 points and in third place, trailing Crestwood (22) and Sioux City Heelan (18).

Tipton’s Jamie Kofron was the 2A state runner-up in the shot put.

Kofron threw 44 feet, 1 ½ inches, a foot behind champion Brylie Zeisneiss of South Hardin.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Kofron said. “I gave it all I had, and it wasn’t enough today.”

Kofron was the Drake Relays champion in the shot put and discus last month. She has spent the past month receiving congratulatory messages from people in the community.

“It is a wonderful blessing to have,” Kofron said.

With that, Kofron admits there was some added pressure coming into the state meet. She has leveled out the past several weeks in her performances.

“I still have to learn how to deal with that pressure,” she said.

It was Kofron’s second state runner-up finish in the shot put in three years. She’ll try for a discus title Friday.

“This takes a little bit of the pressure off and humbles you,” Kofron said. “When I step in the ring (Friday), it’s not I’m a Drake Relays champion. I’m just Jamie Kofron from Tipton and I can go out and throw.”

North Cedar’s Grace Proesch placed fourth in the 2A 400 with a season-best time of 58.99 seconds. Proesch, headed to the Air Force Academy, has battled shin splits in both legs this spring that required her to miss a couple of meets.

“I just wanted to toughen it out and do my best,” said Proesch, a state runner-up in the event last year. “I’m just trying to save my legs so I can be healthy for this summer when I go to basic training.”

In 2A, Louisa-Muscatine’s Kylee Sanders was sixth in the long jump (16-10 ¼) and Bellevue’s Cam Reeg was seventh in the 3,000 (11:03.04).

Calamus-Wheatland’s Grace Elvert was eighth in the 1A long jump (16-7 ½).

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Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.