Megan Gray will play soccer next year at the University of Minnesota, but this weekend was all about track for the Ankeny Centennial senior.
While her Centennial soccer teammates played in the Tournament of Champions at Burlington on Friday and Saturday, Gray was part of the Jaguars’ contingent running at the Drake Relays.
“Juggling two sports has been really hectic, but my coaches make it super easy,” Gray said. “They tell me when and where I need to be, and I just listen to them. It was a tough decision (on where to go this weekend), but I knew I made the right one. This was my last Drake Relays and knowing I missed last year because of my ACL injury, this was a special meet for me.”
Gray ran in the preliminaries of the 4×400 relay on Friday night. She then anchored the Jaguars to an 11th-place finish in the 4×800 relay on Saturday morning.
Gray teamed up with Emma Gordon, Kathryn Vortherms and Jeanne Peters to post a time of 9:46.77 in a loaded field. Waukee won the race in 9:15.60.
“As a team, we were happy with our time. It was the fastest time of the season,” said Gray, who ran the anchor leg in 2:27.72. “Individually, I wasn’t too excited with my time, but I told myself to use that as motivation for state.”
Gordon, a senior who will run at Iowa next year, ran a strong opening leg for Centennial. She posted a split of 2:22.86 to put the Jaguars in fifth place.
Gordon later competed in the 1,500-meter run. She placed 19th in that event with a time of 4:57.59.
Ellie Friesen of Crestwood won the race in 4:31.11. She edged Anna Hostetler of Mid-Prairie by about a second.
The Jaguars opened the day by competing in the preliminaries of the shuttle hurdle relay. The foursome of Katie Petersen, Meg Ridout, Karri Pippett and Calea Jones won the first section in a time of 1:06.65.
The Centennial hurdlers then had to await the results of the other sections to see if they qualified for the finals. The Jaguars still had one of the four fastest times going into the final heat, but Waukee then won that section in a time of 1:03.68 to knock Centennial off the bubble.
The Jaguars had to settle for a fifth-place finish, missing the finals by just .1 seconds. Mount Vernon ran 1:06.55 to take the last qualifying spot.
“We were happy with our time because it was a season-best,” said Pippett. “We knew it would be close to get to the finals, but we knew it would be Dowling Catholic and Waukee and it was just a matter of the two other teams. It was disappointing to be so close and miss it, but I’m proud of the girls for running our best. I’m looking forward to see what we can do to finish the season.”
Waukee had the fastest qualifying time, but the Warriors were later disqualified in the final. Dowling easily won the Relays title with a time of 1:03.04.