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ELDRIDGE — Pleasant Valley track and field co-head coach Kenny Wheeler admits managing a roster of 93 girls can be a logistical nightmare at times.

When the Spartans take their entire squad to a meet, they fill two buses. It has required the coaches to order extra warm-up gear and additional uniforms they'll wear for Drake Relays and the state meet. 

Still, Wheeler and his wife, Jane, won't turn a kid away who wants to be involved with the program. They'll never make cuts. 

"We've always thought track and field is a sport for everybody," Wheeler said. "We're going to welcome everybody regardless of the numbers. 

"Hopefully, every girl on this team feels it is valued and can contribute to the team whether it is scoring points or being the best athlete they can be for themselves or their teammates."

The strength in numbers carried PV to a dominant performance Thursday night at the North Scott Lady Lancer Relays. 

PV had 15 girls contribute to 11 event wins as it prevailed in the 11-team field with 172 points. Bettendorf was second with 136, followed by Dubuque Hempstead (76), North Scott (74) and Davenport Central (72.5). 

Ellie Spelhaug, Carli Spelhaug, Amaria Kirby and Adrea Arthofer each were involved in three victories. 

"Coming from basketball and a team of 15 to this big team, it was like, 'Whoa,'" Ellie Spelhaug said. "It is hard to get a connection with every single person, but as a senior it is fun to get to know these younger girls that are going to be taking over the team.

"I just love their work ethic. They're helping push us seniors."

The Spartans' depth was showcased in the relays. They won the sprint medley, 3,200, shuttle hurdle, 800, 400 and 1,600 relays. And they had five different girls on the anchor leg in those six events.

"The nice thing about this team is we have a lot of people contribute and feel like they're part of something great," Wheeler said. "That attitude spreads to everybody else and keeps them motivated.

"The one thing that has been real special is how quickly this team has gelled together and supported each other."

Carli Spelhaug leaped a personal best 17 feet, 1 inch to take the long jump. That is more than a half-foot farther than she jumped to take eighth at last year's Class 4A state meet.

"That means a lot to get over 17 this early in the season, a big confidence booster for me," Carli said. "We haven't had a lot of practices with basketball just getting over. 

"If I keep practicing and continue to perfect my form, hopefully we can get a couple extra inches. Being an upperclassmen now, coach Wheeler looks at me as more of a leader now."

Kira Arthofer, Clare Basala, Maddy Minard, Alexa Neal, Morgan Ramirez and freshman Harmony Creasy were part of two wins. 

Davenport Central's Lea Grady swept the throws. She won the discus with a toss of 131-9 and established a new personal-record in the shot put (41-7). 

Grady already has met the blue standard to qualify for the Drake Relays in the discus and is less than a half-foot from the required shot put distance.

"Last year I was good, but this year is my last in high school, and I want to go big and go hard," Grady said. "I just know I'm able to do it with my coaches' belief. It pushes me."

That belief, coupled with experience, has led to a strong start to the outdoor season. She broke Central's 40-year-old school discus record earlier this month.

"A lot has to do with technique, but I do feel more confident I'm going to throw farther and get better," she said. 

North Scott won two events — Alexis Hayes in the high jump (5-3) and the distance medley relay. North Cedar's Grace Proesch cruised in the 400 in 60.91 seconds.

Breanna Vermeer had the lone win for Bettendorf, clocking in at 2:27.74 in the 800. The Bulldogs had six runner-up finishes. 

Davenport North's Ariana Hill outlasted PV's Kira Arhotfer for a win in the 100 by four-hundreths of a second. 


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.