ELDRIDGE, Iowa — Even 10 1/2 months later, the result does not escape Darien Porter's mind.
After leading for almost the entire race in last year's 400 at the Class 4A state track and field meet, Porter was nipped for the championship and denied a repeat by Iowa City West's Austin West.
"It has kind of haunted me because it was tough to lose like that," Porter said. "It is pushing me to go out, try my best and gun for that state title."
In his first open 400 since that race at Drake Stadium last May, the Iowa State football recruit showed he might be even better than a year ago.
Porter earned the blue standard and a spot into the Drake Relays with a time of 48.51 seconds Tuesday at North Scott's Deac Ryan Relays.
It was a banner night for Porter and the Bulldogs.
Bettendorf won eight events and had four second-place finishes to claim the 12-team title with 150 points. Iowa City West was second at 129, followed by Pleasant Valley (118) and Cedar Rapids Prairie (75).
"This is a good boost for our team," Bettendorf sprinter Leo Desequeria said. "There are some very good competitors here, so winning tonight's meet gives us more motivation to win the other ones."
This is the first year the Drake Relays has offered the open 400. In previous years, Porter only has done relays at Drake.
He'll get an opportunity to showcase his quarter-mile speed later this month on the blue oval.
"Coming out and running that time this early in the year is a bit shocking, but very encouraging," said Porter, whose time was about a second faster than a year ago at this time. "I've been working really hard in the offseason and early this year, but I didn't know exactly where I was at in the 400."
Porter said last year's setback has given him plenty of time to reflect and reevaluate his race strategy.
"What happened sucked last year, but it helped me learn a lot," he said. "I've had to figure out how to run the race again."
Porter and Desequeria each accounted for four wins. They teamed up for a victory in the sprint medley relay with Austin Kalar and MeKou Smith-Reed.
Desequeria also won the 100 and anchored the 400 and 800 relays. Porter cruised in the 200 (22.59) and finished off the night with a high 49-split in the victorious 1,600 relay.
Carter Bell won the long jump for Bettendorf's other triumph.
"This is my last season with a good group of friends, a good group of teammates," Desequeria said. "We all want to win, so right now it is all about trusting the process and listening to our coaches."
North Scott's Trent Allard secured the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 2 inches. Allard has surpassed last year's personal record of 6-1 three times this season.
"I'm super pleased how I've been performing," Allard said. "I've only been out for a couple weeks since we had basketball. It is only up from here.
"I'm jumping and running so much better. It has to do with our weight room. Coach (Tony) Stewart has been great for us."
Kole Sommer had a 10-second PR in winning the 3,200 in 9:43.66. Sommer was ecstatic given the windy conditions and he wasn't pushed for the last mile of the race.
"My mentality is a lot different right now," Sommer said. "I didn't have that much confidence during cross country season. Every race right now, I'm trying to go in to win. That helps me out a lot competing."
The Spartans also took the 3,200 and shuttle hurdle relays.
Davenport Central's Will Reemtsma swept the hurdles. He won the 110 highs in 15.01 and missed the blue standard of 54 seconds in the 400 lows by 0.33 seconds.