By BRANDON HURLEY
DES MOINES - Greene County sophomore Brianna Osterson announced her arrival into the big time while simultaneously evading any type of letdown last week.
The long jumper had quite the weekend at the 110th annual Drake Relays April 25-27, securing a top 10 spot in the long jump while anchoring the Rams’ 4-by-100-meter relay squad.
Osterson’s school-record tying leap of 17-03 during Thursday’s high school long jump earned her seventh overall among a field loaded with 4A jumpers, including now three-time Drake Relays champion Darby Thomas.
Osterson certainly held her own.
The ram bounced back from a scratch on her first attempt to catapult into a leap of 16-08.5. She followed that up with a record-tying leap of 17-03, which earned her a trip to the long jump finals.
Though none of her final three jumps surpassed the mark of 17-03, she remained firmly entrenched on the medal stand.
Competing against the state’s best was quite the measuring stick for the rising sophomore. Greene County head coach Derek Merk was more than pleased with her performance on the first day of Drake Relays competition.
“I think Brianna Osterson showed us that she is getting more consistent in where she hits on the board, and the distance of her jumps,” the coach said. “I think Brianna walked away pretty confident in her abilities and how she can compete against not only 2A long jumpers, but also some of the best in the state.”
Thomas, a senior at Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, captured her third straight title with a winning jump of 19 feet even. Linn-Mar’s Dimla Burrell captured a silver medal with a top jump of 18-1 while Wahlert Catholic’s Aliyah Carter was third with a jump of 17-10.
Osterson just missed out on cracking the top five, as Keokuk’s Miracle Alles placed fifth with a jump of 17-04.75 while Pleasant Valley’s Harmony Creasy came in sixth (17-04.5).
Osterson currently sits fifth in 2A while Sheldon’s Ashlyn Albrecht holds the top spot at 17-11.
Greene County’s 4-by-100-meter relay squad of Melanie Doran, Maddy Sigler, Makala Kafer and Osterson placed 89th overall Saturday out of 96 teams, running to a time of 53.37. The quartet isn’t where Merk believes it can be, but he did pick up on a number of things from the performance on the big stage of Drake Stadium. A relatively damp track as well as overcast skies and high, brisk winds could have played a role as well. In the end, Merk believes the experience paved the way for further improvement down the line.
“One thing we have discussed with a lot of the girls is that they will not PR in every meet, and that is okay,” the coach said. “With the 4-by-100, we would have obviously liked to have ran our season best in that atmosphere. One exchange wasn’t 100 percent clean and that prevented us from (it).
I think that will drive them to focus even more on the ‘small’ things to ensure we see success down the home stretch.”
Putting trust in their own abilities will be key as Greene County makes a final push toward state. The Heart of Iowa Conference meet is this evening (May 2) in Nevada while 2A state qualifying arrives next week (May 9) in Panorama. A fair amount of confidence could mean the difference between a couple of inches and a few seconds faster, Merk said.
“We have seen a lot of the girls achieve PRs in various open events and split times this season freshmen through seniors. I think the confidence they have built up is going to be so important heading into districts,” the coach said. “I feel there is a big mental component in track and field. Knowing they have grown individually is going to give them that extra motivation to really compete at districts and try to make it to state in something.”