DES MOINES — Austin Kalar was emotional. Carter Bell was smiling. Leo Desequeira was hollering in celebration. Darien Porter raised his arms in exhilaration.

Even though Bettendorf didn’t walk out of Drake Stadium on Saturday afternoon with a team trophy, four seniors left with a state championship and an all-time Iowa best.

Kalar, Bell, Desequeira and Porter, all starters on Bettendorf’s state semifinal football squad last fall, teamed for a Class 4A sprint medley relay title in a blistering 1 minute, 30.92 seconds.

“For us to go out like that, this means the world to me,” Kalar said. “We woke up this morning, looked at each other and said this is our last race together. I’m just glad we went out like this.”

West Des Moines Valley claimed its third straight title with 89 points, followed by Ames (63) and Waukee (60). Bettendorf was fourth with 45 points.

After the final race, the majority of Bettendorf’s state qualifiers cried and exchanged hugs on the infield. The Bulldogs captured their second straight conference title, a district championship and won three events at the state meet.

“This is something I’m going to really, really miss,” senior Brendan Scott said. “The memories I made with these guys the last four years are something I’ll never forget.”

Porter, once again, was the catalyst.

Besides the sprint medley relay, Porter won the 200 meters in 21.76 seconds and took second in the 100 in 10.97. He became Bettendorf’s first state champion in the 200 since Marshall Frazier in 1996.

Porter used a strong kick to fend off 2018 state champion Bernard Bell of Ames.

“I just think it was my training that helped,” Porter said. “I had to remember to relax, trust form and that helped get the edge.”

The 6-foot-4 Porter finished his career with five state championships and three runner-up medals.

“It is bittersweet knowing I’ve been able to accomplish everything I have and all the memories with the team and coaches, but also knowing I will never wear this jersey or compete for this team again sucks,” Porter said.

The Iowa State recruit is expected to play only football in college. He didn’t completely shut the door on track.

“The opportunity is always there,” he said. “I haven’t thought about it too much. Track has been a huge part of my life, just as much as football the past seven years. It would be really hard to drop and never be able to compete again.”

Porter admits it is enticing.

“The times I’ve put up shows I could really hold my own and compete with all the college athletes,” he said. “It is something I’ll have to think about.”

First, this was a day for him and his teammates to savor.

Kalar, Bell and Desequeira put the Bulldogs in position for the sprint medley title. Porter did the rest.

Thanks to a 46.6-second split on Porter’s 400 anchor, he chased down Urbandale’s Jay Marcotte and sprinted past Waukee’s Sam Yeaway for the win.

It was Porter’s second all-time best of the weekend after winning the open 400 in a record 46.99 seconds on Friday afternoon.

“It was really my goal to send my seniors, my best friends out with a state title,” Porter said. “We’re together like nine to 10 months out of the year. I’m going to miss them like hell next year.”

With the exception of Porter, it was the first state championship for the other three.

“I’m eager to win, so to win something this weekend, I’m grateful for it,” Desequeira said.

Bell planned to focus on the long jump and do no running events this spring. When the Bulldogs needed to plug in another sprinter to fill out the relay, he stepped in.

“Our last day together, it is really great to win this,” Bell said. “Especially when track isn’t my main sport, it is special to be in the (record books) with a name like Darien Porter.”

Davenport West’s Camren Carter was the other Quad-City metro boys’ competitor to medal Saturday.

Carter, a junior, was seeded last among the 24 qualifiers in the 110 hurdles. He placed sixth in 15.22 seconds.

“I’ve worked really hard, had a huge chip on my shoulder because people weren’t bringing me up,” Carter said. “Now, it is a case of I’ve been here and done that. I’m ready to win it next year.”

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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.