The 2016 track & field season came to a close May 19-21 at Drake Stadium in Des Moines at the Iowa High School State Track & Field Meet. It was an end cap to a remarkable season where the Knights won 4 team titles, numerous individual events, and broke 2 school records.
Head Coach Shaun Mohon pushed the phrase “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” all season. He reflected that this year’s team, from a pure talent standpoint, was not where previous WA teams had been. “We did not have the top end speed that we have had in the past. The reason this team was so successful was due to hard work, practicing well, and the work of all the coaches.”
Read more about how the season progressed and the state meet after the break.
After a slow start to the season, this team gained their stride in April with two consecutive team wins. The first occurred at Van Meter on the 19th, and they followed up that performance two days later at Martinsdale St. Marys. This propelled the Knights to be ranked 8th in the entire state in class 2A according to the Iowa Association of Track Coaches. Two weeks later, the Knights repeated their consecutive team victories when they traveled to Marengo and Ogden respectively. On May 5, the team scored 210 total points, the most ever by a Woodward team, obliterating the competition. During that meet, Ashton Putzier set a new school record in the 400 meter hurdles when he ran it in 57.65 seconds.
Other leaders on the team included Asani Abdullah, one of the rare two season runners for Woodward Academy. He qualified for state last year as a member of the relay team, and was a co-captain for this year’s squad. His regular season highlight came when he became the school record holder in the long jump with a distance of 21’6.25″. Both previous school records were set in 2007. Miles Banks was the pulse of the team with how they handled themselves on and off the field. Jordan Johnson was the leader for the throwers group, who seemed to set a new personal record every meet. And Jacob Quinoz led the distance group, who was a great reflection of the “hard work beats talent” mantra.
During the state qualifying districts meet, the Knights qualified in 5 events for State Meet that took place the following week. The Iowa high school co-ed state meet is the largest in the country. The three-day event has over 20,000 spectators in attendance. This year, championship Saturday saw 8,757 people walk through the door, becoming the largest high school event in the country. Asani’s 5th place, 21’3.25 long jump was the highlight of the meet. Ammari Johnson exceeded expectations when he jumped 6’1″, a 14th place finish in the high jump. After a disappointing 4×200 meter relay, the team of Asani, Joshua Johnson, Miles Banks, and Jarius Penn ran a solid 4×100 race in 44.92 seconds, eclipsing their district qualifying time.
“From the start of the season to the end of the season, the amount of growth and development accomplished from this team and each athlete was extremely high.” In other seasons, the strength of the team was the pure talent that some of the athletes had. This year, their strength was their mindset. They took pride in their school, in their preparation, and they went into every single event knowing they could win. When they did, they were humble and gracious; everything that a Knight exhibits.