DES MOINES — Just as Darien Porter was about to get settled into the blocks for his signature race Thursday night, lightning struck and the meet was halted.

“It was a little disappointing, especially since we were pretty much ready to go,” the Bettendorf sprinter said. “I just had to keep my head right, get some good rest and be ready to go today.”

The wait was well worth it. 

Porter ran an Iowa all-time best 46.99 seconds in the 400 meters to capture his second Class 4A state title in the event in three years Friday afternoon at Drake Stadium.

It clipped the previous all-time mark of 47.01 by Iowa City High’s Calvin Davis in 2002. Porter wasn’t even 2 years old.

“Just being able to end my high school 400 career with something like this, that kind of time, it’s just really amazing and something that probably won’t even hit me for another 10 minutes,” he said.

"Just knowing my name will be the state’s all-time best time and be in the record books for at least a little bit, it means a lot."

Porter had the 400 title snatched away from him by Iowa City West’s Austin West in the closing 50 meters last year.

The Iowa State football recruit changed his tactics this time around.

He sat back in the first half of the race and was neck-and-neck with Iowa City West’s Gabe Caruthers going around the final turn.

“Relax, keep your form and use everything you have on that kick,” Porter told himself. “I knew somebody was going to be right on my tail. I had to keep my composure and trust my training.”

Porter closed strong and edged Caruthers by 0.39 seconds. It was a personal best for Porter by 0.85 seconds.

“Last year, to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking strategy,” he said. “I was kind of out there just running, and it ended up working against me.

“We really talked a lot about strategy with the coaches. I just wanted to set everyone else up for the kick at the end.”

Porter considered graduating early and forgoing his senior track season to get a head start on his college football career at Iowa State.

Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell encouraged him to stay. Porter also was motivated for a different ending.

“Last year didn’t go exactly as planned, and it wasn’t something I wanted to end my high school career on,” he said. “While going to Iowa State early was tempting and would have been beneficial, I felt I would have left a little potential out there and the track team down by leaving.”

It also allowed him to get the sour taste of last year’s finish out of his mind.

“It has never really left me, something I’ve always kept in the back of my mind, but mostly used as motivation,” Porter said. “It really hurt.”

Disappointment turned into euphoria a year later.

“I made up for it,” he said. “Now, I’m on top of the world, really.”

Davenport Central’s Will Reemtsma placed fifth in the 4A 400 hurdles in 53.79 seconds. Bettendorf’s Ethan Clark was seventh out of the second heat in 54.13.

Reemtsma was trying to follow up his Drake Relays title, but a nagging hamstring injury limited his training in the final month.

“Those guys fought hard and had a game plan,” Reemtsma said. “I just wanted to run and not let all the hype distract me. Maybe I got a little too much into the zone.

“It just wasn’t my day.”

Reemtsma will continue his running career at St. Ambrose next year.

“One door closes like this, another one opens,” he said. “At least, I got that Drake title.

“I wish I could have had better health. Those guys have been training hard, and they peaked at the right time.”

West Des Moines Valley leads 4A with 48 points. Bettendorf is tied for 14th with 12 points.

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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.