Returning Comet girl T&F stars pick up where they left off
By John Burbridge
CHARLES CITY — It has been more than nine months since Liz Fiser took flight to place second in the Class 3A girls long jump at last year’s State Track and Field Championships.
Apparently, she hasn’t experienced much jet lag.
During the Wartburg College High School Indoor Track Invitational last week, Fiser figuratively as well as literally got off to a flying start.
“On her first jump of the season, she got a 17 (feet) 1 (inch),” Charles City girls track head coach Amanda Rahmiller said of the returning senior, who went on to win the event at Wartburg. “That was her personal-best from last year.”
Fiser originally set the PB at the state qualifier. At the state meet, her leap of 16 feet, 7 ½ inches placed her behind champion and Dubuque Wahlert junior Aliyah Carter, who set a meet record with a leap of 18 feet, 8 ½ inches.
It would take a major leap of faith on Fiser’s or anyone else’s part to consider matching or besting that mark in the future. Still, Fiser is a small shoe-size away from wing-spanning Charles City’s all-time small-orbit mark.
“And with a 17-1 jump already this year, she has a good chance to be a Drake Relays qualifier,” Rahmiller said.
Ramiller is also the head coach for Charles City’s girls cross country team, which Fiser went out for this past fall. Though she competed primarily as a junior varsity runner, Fiser intimated to her coach that the regimen has already paid dividends.
“She said to me that during basketball season she felt more in shape and much better going up and down the court,” Rahmiller said.
Another one of Rahmiller’s athletes took up a sport for the first time this school year.
Shortly before Charles City went into its spring-break week, junior Kiki Connell was relating to Rahmiller the rigors and ultimate rewards of going out for the Comet wrestling team.
Like someone bravely attempting something that is initially intimidating, Connell said she was nervous about wrestling her first bout and was made even more nervous when drew the first match from the first dual-meet of the season.
Connell and the rest of the Comet girl wrestlers went on to place second at the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association State Girls Meet.
Going right into track after emerging from a crucible-like wrestling season, Connell placed third in the 3,000-meter run at Wartburg with a time of 10 minutes, 54 seconds.
“That’s faster than she ran last year as a sophomore,” Rahmiller said of Connell, who has qualified for state twice and — during her freshman season — once for the Drake Relays in the 3,000.
Another returning state-qualifier for the Comets is thrower Carly Stevenson. In the discus, Stevenson was able to bound back from shoulder surgery her sophomore season and win the state-qualifier with a throw of 118 feet, 4 inches — Stevenson’s PB from last season was 123 feet.
Senior track veterans Lynn Hoeft and Alex Litterer will be returning parts from the Comets’ state-qualifying shuttle hurdle relay from last season that also included Hannah Lahner, Kaylee Hennick and Fiser.
Three-time state-qualifier Mackenzy Bilharz will return as one of the Comets’ top middle-distance and distant runners, and is due to be a key leg in numerous relays.
Rahmiller expects sophomore Lydia Staudt to have a strong season after she recorded personal-bests in the long jump and 400-meter run at Wartburg.
“And we also have other girls from our state cross country team that should help us score some points,” Rahmiller said.
Starting last season, Rahmiller — with her husband, Charles City boys track head coach Ryan Rahmiller, and their respective coaching staffs — ran both programs like a single unit. Going into the third week of this season, the Comets unofficially had more than 120 athletes out for track in this single unit.
But on the girls side, the Comets will be deprived of two of the better athletes in the school as sophomores Rachel Chambers and Ashlyn Hoeft — both state-qualifiers — are out for the season due to knee injuries.
“That’s a major blow for us,” Rahmiller said, “but they’ve been still showing up for practices and lending support like they’re part of the team.”