DES MOINES - Abi Watson's start didn't go as she envisioned.
Though the middle, finish and resulting time on the clock couldn't have gone much better.
Positioning herself near the front of the chase pack, the North Tama junior cruised to a fourth-place finish in a personal-best time of 10 minutes, 51.72 seconds in the 3,000-meter run during the Class 1A portion of the Iowa Co-ed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium Thursday.
North Tama junior Abi Watson pulls ahead of AGWSR freshman Bethany Lippert in the girls Class 1A 3,000-meter run at the Iowa Co-ed State Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in Des Moines. Watson finished fourth with a time of 10:51.72. (T-R photo by Tyler Strand)
The Redhawk was narrowly outkicked by Tri-Center's Michelle Mumm by 19-hundredths of a second over the final 50 meters, while Rebekah Topham of Griswold broke away early for the win in 9:56.73. Pekin's Gynne Wright claimed silver in 10:36.38.
Watson's starting spot near the middle gave her a sense of urgency to get out quick, though she found herself a little out of position early.
"I knew I started in the middle so I knew I'd have to get out fast, but I didn't really do that," Watson said. "But I got out there and knew I had to stay with that (front) pack. I just said to myself. 'I need to go with them to get a good time.'"
The plan paid off.
Watson scorched nearly 30 seconds off her state-qualifier time and patiently moved her way up to third as Topham and Wright gapped each other and the rest of the field early. Once in position, Watson didn't concern herself with who was behind her.
"I kind of zoned everybody out and was in my own little world," Watson said. "Just doing what I needed to do, I didn't worry about anyone else."
The junior improved 30 seconds from her 13th-place performance last May and jumped seven spots from her freshman placing.