DES MOINES — Addie Swanson began to wonder if this moment would ever materialize.

The Pleasant Valley senior had positioned herself for individual state track and field championships several times during her four-year career. She was turned away each time.

In her final lap around Drake Stadium as a high school athlete in an individual event, Swanson earned a gold medal and some redemption.

Swanson became the school’s fourth 400 hurdles Class 4A state champion in the past six years Friday morning with a time of 1 minute, 1.76 seconds.

“It is honestly a dream come true,” an emotional Swanson said.

The Iowa recruit suffered close defeats in the open 400 as a freshman and sophomore. She was disqualified for running out of her lane in last year’s 400 and took sixth in the 200.

But in her first year of running the 400 hurdles, Swanson upended Linn-Mar standout and Drake Relays champion Payton Wensel by 0.51 seconds. Her time was 13th on Iowa’s all-time best list.

“I’ve been knocked down quite a few times by (Wensel),” Swanson said. “Leaving this stadium being on top is all I could ask.”

Swanson was fifth in Thursday’s 400.

She came to an overcast and chilly Drake Stadium with a fresh approach Friday.

“Yesterday was pretty rough mentally, so I knew I just had to be resilient and bounce back after what had happened,” Swanson said. “I decided to switch things up to make it feel like I was right at home in the Pleasant Valley stadium doing practice reps.

“I just told myself, ‘This is practice, not the state meet.’”

Swanson said she “almost completely biffed” the second hurdle. She made her move at about the 200-meter stretch and had cleared the last hurdle just as Wensel was approaching her final one.

From there, Swanson beat Wensel to the finish line.

“Around that third turn, I was expecting someone to be on the inside coming up, but she wasn’t there,” Swanson said. “I kept pushing forward and it worked out.”

PV’s Anne Leners won the 400 hurdles in 2012 and 2013. Carly Donahue achieved it in 2016.

Swanson, who has been part of three relay state titles, didn’t tackle the 400 hurdles until last summer. She ran it just a half-dozen times this season, including a runner-up finish at the Drake Relays.

“If you have the right workouts and the right mindset with proper determination and fearlessness, it is very easy to be coachable,” she said. “It has become my favorite race this year.”

Despite a lower back injury, Davenport Central’s Lea Grady earned her second medal in as many days. After taking fifth in the discus, Grady was seventh in the shot put at 38-1 1/4.

Grady and Indianola’s Anna Hoyman were the only two girls in 4A to place in both throwing events.

“It was a great feeling to medal in both events,” Grady said.

Grady injured her back during basketball season last year. Doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint the problem yet.

“This is the worst it has been,” Grady said. “This is just a sport that I love. I was going to push through it.”

Grady’s best throw came on her second attempt in the preliminaries. She has a chance to improve upon her placings next season.

“This gives me a lot of confidence,” she remarked. “To go through quite a bit of pain and still throw (38-1 1/4) is good.”

PV sophomore Carli Spelhaug placed eighth in the long jump at 16-5.

Bettendorf’s distance medley relay, comprised of Taylor Gau, Emma Ostrom, Breanna Vermeer and Sydney Spranger, was eighth in 4:15.38.

The Spartans are tied with North Scott for ninth place after 10 of 19 events with 17 points. Iowa City West and Waukee lead the pack at 62 and 52 points, respectively.


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.