DES MOINES — When Calamus-Wheatland’s Chase Knoche took the baton with the lead for the anchor leg of the 1,600 medley relay Friday evening, teammate Raymond Venditti knew how the race was going to unfold.

“In my opinion, there is nobody in this entire state that can beat Chase Knoche in an 800-meter race,” Venditti said.

Even with George-Little Rock’s Payton Mauldin and Hudson’s Collin Luck right on Knoche’s heels, the sophomore didn’t flinch.

Knoche anchored the 800 in 1 minute, 57 seconds to carry Cal-Wheat to its first Class 1A state championship in a running event in 20 years in a school-record time of 3:34.47.

“Trust yourself and stay calm is what I kept telling myself,” Knoche said. “I really had to breathe on that backstretch and trust myself I had what it took to bring it home.”

Venditti, Tyler Rowold and Hunter Rickels joined Knoche on the relay. It was just the school’s second state title in a relay, joining the 3,200 squad of 1999.

“It means everything,” Rickels said.

It was particularly important for a team chasing the school’s first state trophy.

The Warriors were disqualified in the 800 relay earlier Friday.

“That’s what we needed to get us back into that team race,” Venditti said. “We knew that (800 relay) didn’t put us out of the team race. We had to put it behind us and get stuff done.”

Rickels ran a 51.3 split on his 400 leg in the medley relay.

“The entire time I was like, ‘You’re doing this for your teammates,’” he said. “I do my best when I’m doing it for my team. It was a relief I ended on a high note.”

George-Little Rock leads the 1A standings with 24 points, followed by Cal-Wheat (23), Lynnville-Sully (22) and Earlham (16).

“It puts us in a really good position,” Rickels said.

Positioned in Lane 8 and in the second of three sections, Bellevue’s 800 relay of Hunter Clasen, Mason Jackson, Andrew Swartz and Ben Parker finished second in a season-best time of 1:30.70. Williamsburg, out of the final section, prevailed in 1:29.71.

A one-hour weather delay didn’t impact Bellevue.

“We knew it was going to be tough, but we stayed inside as long as we could, came out here and just hoped we didn’t have anything happen to us like slipping or a dropped handoff,” Parker said. “The puddles can be pretty dangerous, but we stuck to it and knew we were going to run a good race.”

It was Bellevue’s best time by nearly two seconds this season.

“In these conditions, that’s great,” Swartz said.

Bellevue is in the mix for the team title, too.

Dike-New Hartford leads 2A after 10 of 19 events with 24 points. Bellevue is second at 23, followed by Northeast 20, New Hampton 20 and Williamsburg 19.

The Comets weren’t even projected to reach 20 points for the week but have performed above their seed multiple times. Brady Griebel had a top-five finish in Thursday’s 3,200, and the 3,200 relay took bronze.

Griebel is the top seed in Saturday’s 1,600 while the 400 and 1,600 relays qualified for the final.

“Coming out here, coach told us to think more of it as we’re out here to perform and not a vacation,” Clasen said. “This is our main focus, and that really helps. When you have this kind of success, it makes it a lot more fun.”

Northeast’s Braeden Hoyer was runner-up in the 2A long jump with a leap of 6-6. Sibley-Ocheyedan’s Grant Brouwer cleared 6-9 to follow up his Drake Relays title with a state championship.

“I wish I could have gotten first and wish I could have jumped better, but I’m happy with second place,” Hoyer said. “When it is wet like this and you plant in the high jump, it kind of scares you that you’re going to slip. It gives you a little hesitation, not as confident.”

Hoyer was second at the Drake Relays last month as well. It’ll likely be his final high jump competition as he’ll attend to Wartburg College to play football in the fall.

“I’ve been working at it since my freshman year, so it is great to go out on a high note my senior year,” Hoyer said.

Wapello’s T.J. Dirth was second place in the discus with a heave of 152-10, just one inch behind champion and Iowa football recruit Noah Fenske of New Hampton.

Dirth eclipsed 148 feet on four of his six attempts.

“I’m pretty happy with the way things went,” Dirth said. “That’s a good way to end my senior season.”

River Valley Conference members Northeast, Bellevue and Camanche went fourth, fifth and eighth, respectively, in the 2A 1,600 medley relay.

Northeast’s Grant Rickertsen placed fourth out of the second heat in the 400 hurdles in 56.27 seconds. Tipton’s Andrew Stewart was fourth in the high jump with a leap of 6-1.

Camanche’s Blake Hardison was seventh and Louisa-Muscatine’s Chase Kruse eighth in the 400 hurdles.


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.