Last fall, the Ames High track and field program announced that they would combine the boys and girls teams into #ONETeam this spring, in a move that is unprecedented in the state. The teams combined activities, practices, and competitions in an effort to create positive connections between the coaching staff and students. Head coach Ben Duea announced on Twitter that “It is our goal to build on the successes that both programs have enjoyed in past years, and continue the championship tradition of Ames Track & Field.” It is without question that the first season as ONETeam was a success.
Looking back on the season, Duea said, “The credit goes to the kids. We opened up eyes all over the state on this new innovating idea of having one team. The kids made it special. They bonded and connected unlike any team I have seen. It was truly remarkable to see two genders in one sport support each other as much as our group did.”
This season culminated at the three day state track & field meet on May 17-19, annually held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. This year, the combined team qualified in 22 events and day 1 got off to a good start for the Little Cyclones when Japannah Kellogg high jumped 6’7”, good for runner up. The boys 4×800 relay finished 5th overall (7:58.39) in a timed final that added more points to the team total. Other highlights from day 1 included the shuttle hurdle girls team qualifying for the finals, and Bernard Bell qualifying for the finals with the fastest time in both the 100m (11.02) and 200m (21.95).
Day 2 continued Ames’ impressive performance. Isabel Ingram set a new school record in her 2nd place finish in the 400 hurdles. She also qualified for the finals in the 100 hurdles. Other notables from day 2 include Jappanah Kellogg placing 8th in the long jump, Kaseam Domond placing 5th in the shot put, Will Krapfl placing 7th in the 400 hurdles, the boys 4×200 team placing 5th, and the boys distance medley placing 4th.
The final day of the state meet was amazing. Freshman Aniey Akok placed 7th in the 800 meter race, as did the boys 4×100 relay. Isabel Ingram was the standout on the girls side, being a part of the runner up shuttle hurdle team where they broke their own school record with a 62.30 time. She set another school record with her runner time in the 100 hurdles. Her time of 14.15 is good for 5th all time in the state. Coach Duea said that “Isabel will go down as one of the greatest female track athletes in Ames High history. Her senior year was remarkable if you look back at her previous years. She went from good to great in 9 months and it was because of her relentless work ethic and drive to becoming the best she could be on a daily basis.”
The highlight of the meet came from junior sprinter Bernard Bell Jr., who became a state champion in both the 100 and 200 meter dash. Coach Duea had to persuade Bell to join the team his freshman year, and since that time he has become a student of the sport. He spends his spare time researching sprinters from their form to how they prepare. Duea looks forward to what Bell can do next year. “What I admire about Bernard is how confident he is. He lost 2 races this year and each time he lost he came back stronger. He has a bright future ahead going into his senior year.”
As a team, the girls finished 5th overall and the boys 3rd. Next year, the boys will return 42.5 of those state points and Duea is excited about how ONETeam will continue to prosper.