MFL MarMac seniors cap off careers at state track and field

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MFL MarMac seniors Hannah Schutte (left), Summer Schutte and Emma Ammons capped off their high school track and field careers on a high note, competing in the state meet at Drake University in Des Moines on May 16-18. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

MFL MarMac seniors Emma Ammons, Hannah Schutte and Summer Schutte capped off their high school track and field careers on a high note, competing in the state meet at Drake University in Des Moines on May 16-18.

There, Ammons threw a personal-best 112 feet, 3 inches in the discus, earning her 11th place in Class 1A. Hannah Schutte finished 14th in the 800 with a time of 2:29.59, besting her qualifying mark by several seconds. Summer Schutte ran a 27.62-second 200 meter dash to place 19th in the event.

“It’s such a great accomplishment,” said head coach Kylie Sandstrom. “I’ve been so impressed with these ladies’ work ethic. They push hard at each practice and come ready to work. They have been such great leaders all season and many of the underclassmen on the team truly look up to them.”

For all three Bulldogs, 2019 is their second trip to the blue oval. Emma competed in both the discus and shot put last year, and Hannah raced in the 400. Summer qualified in the 400 in 2017.

“It is like a dream come true because we’ve all had a taste of it,” Hannah shared, “and to go together one last time is awesome because we’ve built a good, strong track program.”

“I’m extremely excited to make it back. I was nervous about it,” Emma admitted. “I knew I was really going to have to work and step up my game. There was a bar from last year, so we’ve got to hit it and raise it more.”

Summer was hurt last year—and still suffers from a leg injury—so advancing to state now was especially rewarding.

“It’s also pretty exciting to go down with my sister again, since I went the first year and she went last year,” Summer noted. “Now, we get to go together.” 

The twin sisters have a special bond. Summer enlists Hannah to hold her blocks for each race, and she relies on her sister for support and advice on where she needs to be with her times. Hannah said Summer is always at the corners of the track, encouraging her, when she needs a push.

“She knows how to get to me when I’m running,” Hannah reflected.

The athletes said their previous state experience made it easier the second time around. It lessened their nerves and upped their confidence.

“I know how to warm up, when to warm up, how much to do with the heat and the weather conditions,” Hannah explained.

Emma said she usually loves being on stage, performing in music and speech. Track is different, though, particularly at the top level.

“Having that many people, and being able to feel that many eyes, was really intense and nerve-racking for me,” she said. “This year, I’m more adjusted to it. I’m not as self-conscious to do my throws, do my warm-ups, because no one’s paying attention to you until you’re in the ring. Then you’re in the ring, so you don’t pay attention to them.” 

At the start of the season, Emma said shot put was actually her biggest focus. But it just wasn’t clicking—her movements weren’t coming together. Discus felt different; it was more relaxed, not as calculated. She was simply having fun and seeing how far she could throw it.

“I wasn’t taking as much time to break it down. I was just going with how it felt and making small adjustments as it went,” she stated. “There was something about spinning and my feet going; it just was going better. I was able to snap and see it clear. When I stepped in that ring, everything fades away. I’m just throwing.”

 Emma said her season turning point was at the North Fayette Valley meet on April 18. She made a personal record that night, throwing over 110 feet for the first time.

“From there, it kept going. I knew that I could keep reaching more and digging further,” she commented. “I knew there was more I could throw.”

Kylie said it was fun to watch Emma progress throughout the season, from throwing 96 feet at the start to 112 at both the qualifying and state meets.

“She continues to show up early to school to lift weights and pushes herself to improve with each throw,” the coach said. “She’s noticing things that she needs to work on with her footwork and she can pinpoint what she needs to fix.”

Like Emma, Hannah also had to re-evaluate which event would be her focus. After going to state in the 400 last year, she and the coaches assumed that would be her race.

“But my times weren’t getting down,” she said,  “and I wasn’t getting a good kick and I wasn’t running like I was last year.”

Toward the end of the season, Kylie suggested she try the open 800. A practice run went well, so Hannah competed in the Clayton Ridge meet on April 23 and the Bulldog Relays on April 25. She beat her personal record at the home invite, and felt like she’d finally found her groove.

“I knew how to run it, and I could shave more time off,” Hannah explained. “I knew that was going to be my race this year because I felt so much better running it and I felt strong.”

Kylie said that was the point they knew Hannah had the opportunity to qualify for state.

“She didn’t quite get her personal best in the 800 [at the state qualifying meet], but she also only ran the race four times all season,” Kylie remarked. Hannah did her best at state instead. 

“That is the perfect time for this,” the coach added.

Hannah said her experience shows the importance of going with the flow. 

“If something’s not going right, try a different route and work really hard to get a better outcome,” she said.

Summer learned that lesson too. After previously competing in the 400, leg injuries forced her to run shorter races. She did both the 100 and 200 this year, but the latter was a better fit.

“I have a strong start and a strong finish, and I can also build momentum as I go faster,” she explained, “whereas the 100 is not enough for me to keep picking up the pace.”

Her personal record—27.45 seconds—came at the state qualifying meet at Edgewood-Colesburg on May 10. 

“I was pretty happy with where I ended the season,” she said.

Kylie is amazed at how Summer has been able to push through her injuries to compete at such a high level.

“She finished every meet in excruciating pain, but always showed up to practice the next day ready to work,” Kylie said.

All three girls are appreciative of the support they’ve received from coaches, including Kylie, Eliza Philpott, Kyle Kirkestue and former coach Becky Holt.

“Track is a team sport,” Emma said. “It’s individualized in a lot of ways, but you have people there every step of the way to push you and motivate you and make you work.”

All four-year track and field participants, they’ve been grateful for one another, as well.

“We’ve stuck it out and we really care about our accomplishments through track and really want to do well and make our school proud,” Hannah said.

“It requires hard work and dedication,” Summer added, “and it can be rewarding on your own and also as a team.”

It’s nice to see that hard work pay off, Emma noted.

“They’ve been big motivators for me, and I see the effort they put in,” she said. “We’ve all had moments that frustrate us, but now we’re able to see the benefits in the end.”

In her first year as head coach, Kylie was happy to witness it.

“I would often ask, ‘What do you have left in you today?’ she said. “And they never hesitated to push through another run. The hard work they put up this season has paid off in the best possible way.”

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