The new head coach of the Ankeny boys’ track team brings a lot of experience to the program.
Jordan Mullen was a standout hurdler at Iowa who won two Big Ten titles and was a two-time all-American. He previously coached at Atlantic, where he guided the Trojans to three consecutive Hawkeye Ten crowns and led the team to a pair of top-three finishes in the Class 3A state meet.
“During my time in Atlantic we had a lot of success,” said Mullen, who replaced Nick Nelson. “I struggle to talk about myself, so that’s why I focus more on the kids. I coach because I absolutely love this sport, and it has helped turn me into the man I am today. I want to give that back to the kids and help them achieve their goals.”
Mullen takes over an Ankeny squad that placed third in Class 4A a year ago with 53 points. The Hawks boast 15 returning state qualifiers.
There are 130 boys on the roster. Mullen said his athletes have adapted well to the coaching change.
“The practices are going great,” Mullen said. “There hasn’t been much change–a lot of the staff is the same as the previous years. The kids are really enjoying it and have bought into the process very well and are excited for the upcoming season.”
Ankeny returns three members of last year’s state champion sprint medley relay in Jack Belding, Tyson Miller and Tyler Sickerson. The Hawks won the event in 1:31.46, the fifth-fastest time in state history.
That trio also ran on the seventh-place 4×100 relay and joined Aidan Adamson on the fifth-place 4×200 relay. Belding and Miller also ran on the 10th-place 4×400 relay with Jacob Kruger and Jake Bosch.
Kruger and Bosch ran on the 12th-place distance medley relay, too. Caden Henkes and Jamison Patton are also back from that unit.
Bosch is part of a talented group of distance runners. He placed 10th in the 800 in a time of 1:58.05, while Levi Hill took 12th in the 1,600 in 4:28.02.
Bosch and Hill also combined with Abel Squires and Truman Patterson for a 10th-place finish in the 4×800 relay. Last fall, that group helped Ankeny to a third-place finish at the state cross country meet.
Carter Accola is another key returnee. He placed fourth in the 110 hurdles in 15.03 seconds and joined Max Watson, Landon Pote and Gavin Wise on the fifth-place shuttle hurdle relay.
Patton added a fourth-place finish in the high jump, clearing the bar at 6 feet 6 inches. Cash Schoolen finished 17th in that event.
“We have all the right pieces to make a lot of noise this year,” Mullen said. “The strength of our team really runs throughout the team. We have a lot of experience coming back through all the events that have competed in big meets. Jumps, sprints, distance and throws are all pretty well-rounded.”
Ankeny will compete in the ISU Indoor meet on Friday. The Hawks will open their outdoor season on March 28 by competing in the Early Bird Relays at Waukee Northwest.
“For us to reach our potential this year we just have to follow the process that has been put in place!” Mullen said. “Making sure we utilize our team to its fullest potential–putting the right kids in the right events–because we have a lot of power returning!”
The Hawks appear capable of earning another trophy at the state meet.
“It will take a total team effort, and that’s a phrase that I use a lot,” Mullen said. “If we continue to keep working hard in practice and believe in the process and most importantly have fun, we will be happy in May.”