By Ross Thede
Central Iowa Press
DES MOINES - It was an eerily familiar situation for North Tama. A bunch of hardened football players showing rare emotion after setting a new school record in the shuttle hurdle relay.
Then the foursome watched as the best time in Redhawk history got washed away.
After overcoming all the obstacles - and a little more - to qualify for the finals, North Tama's shuttle hurdle relay foursome of Brendon Boerm, James Weida, Jeremy Wrage and Dylan Youel won the first heat of Saturday's Class 1A finals in 59.69 seconds at the Iowa Co-Ed State Track and Field Championships.
Then, for the second year in a row, they saw their new school-record clocking get knocked off the top of the leaderboard.
Belle Plaine broke its own meet record to win the state title in 58.79, nipping AHST's 59.01 at the finish line to bump North Tama to a third-place finish.
Belle Plaine was fifth in 2A a year ago, while North Tama was runner-up to Southern Cal despite logging what until Saturday was a school-record 1:00.48.
"It was pretty hard to watch, we did it last year too," said Youel, who in Thursday's rainy preliminaries bounced up after falling over the second hurdle to anchor the Redhawk relay to a seventh-place seeding. "We were in the slow heat last year and we ran our best. (Today) we didn't have anybody there to really challenge us."
"Yeah, that makes a big difference," added Weida.
Youel worked out the kinks before Saturday's finals and forgot all about the fall that nearly prevented North Tama from its second straight state shuttle hurdle medal. The Redhawks had a comfortable lead in the fourth of six preliminary heats before the second hurdle took Youel to the slippery surface at Drake Stadium.
His quick recovery got North Tama into the finals by 65-hundredths of a second.
"That fall on Thursday was pretty tough, I just had my steps mixed up so it wasn't that big of a deal," Youel said. "I haven't thought about that race all day because I knew if I just got my steps right out of the blocks I was going to run a clean race."
And the Redhawks did, but it just wasn't enough.
"It's tough, the competition was a lot tougher this year than it was last year," Youel said, "and Belle Plaine moving down a class, they were obviously very good."
The North Tama quartet was searching for the boys' program's first state championship since Brett Van Hove won the 800-meter run in 2002.