It didn’t take the Midland girls track team very long to get the attention of the more than 10,000 fans packed into the Drake Stadium Friday, May 20, in Des Moines.

With Anna Bartels running the opening leg of the class 1A state 4x400 relay, the star sophomore bolted her team to a big early lead before the rest of the field gradually began to gain ground ending with the Eagles placing sixth in their heat and 16th overall coming through with a time of 4:17.30.

“This was a race we were all very excited about,” said Midland girls’ track coach Ryan Luensman. “We have new runners that didn’t even compete in track last year and now they’re competing at the state meet. All the girls left it on the track giving their all. We ended up just a few seconds from making finals, but I know these girls will be hungry to come back next year.”

Alivia Smith, Alyssa Eckhardt and anchor Gracie Franzen ran the final three legs of the 4x400 for the Midland team who weren’t particularly happy with their time, but did like all the attention the program got for being in first place for such a long stretch.

“We all wanted to run a PR here at state, so in the end a 4:17 is not what we wanted,” Bartels said. “It was fun being out in front though. I wanted to do my best to give Alivia a lead when she got the baton and I was able to do that.”

Smith was also excited about getting the baton in first-place.

“I tried my best to push as hard as I could for the first 300-meter,” she said. “Then I kind of died out a bit at the end.”

Franzen pushed as hard as she could in her anchor 400-meter leg as well.

“I just wanted to stay with the pack at that point and tried to pass as many people as a could in that final 100-meters,” she said. “I wish we could have gotten that PR, we might have made finals then.”

Oakland-Riverside went on to win the class 1A 4x400 state title Saturday, May 21, cruising to a 4:06.16 clocking in the finals that topped runner-up Central Elkader (4:08.13) by almost two full seconds.

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