DES MOINES — Sam Spore politely waved to the crowd as his accomplishment was touted by the public-address announcer Saturday inside Drake Stadium.
He also wore a mile-wide smile.
The Union freshman won the wheelchair shot put with a toss of 17 feet, 1.5 inches to open his four-event day. Spore also participated in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, with the last race coming during a downpour that Union head coach Scott Denner said Spore “absolutely had a blast in.”
“That was an unbelievable experience for him,” Denner added. “His goal was to win the shot put and he did a great job. And he did PR by quite a bit in his other three races.
“I think him having actual competition was great and he had so much fun.”
Spore took all six of his throws consecutively because the event was arranged that way with just two throwers. He topped Cedar Falls’ Koda Beland by nearly three feet.
“It felt like I kind of slipped, kind of got the ball of my fingers too late when I was throwing it,” Spore said of his best toss. “It feels good winning shot put. I knew that I’d start off well winning this round.”
Spore placed third in the 100 (21.74), 200 (40.63) and 400 (1:23.95) and accrued 28 points.
The Knights’ Asher Beermann placed 21st in the 400 (53.78) and the 1,600 relay was 15th (3:32.57) in the 2A meet. The team of Jacob Carey, Danny Petersein, Joren Fisher and Beermann set a two-second personal-best time.
All 13 of Union’s points in the girls 2A meet came from Ellie Rathe’s distance days. Rathe placed second in Thursday’s 3K in 10:39.06 to Mid-Prairie’s Danielle Hostetler. Rathe led the opening two laps, then stayed solid even after Hostetler passed her.
“I have to set my own pace right off the bat otherwise it throws me off. That was definitely what I had planned,” Rathe said. “I knew there would be a lot more competition and that they’re all amazing runners. I wanted to get out and be free and focus on the lane I was in.”
The duo battled again on Saturday in the 1,500. With 50 meters left, Rathe nearly rolled her eyes after she was passed by a pair to finish fourth in 4:54.28.
“What did I say about being in a sprint finish?” she smiled. “I expected that 100 percent, that was not a surprise to me whatsoever. I knew the girls behind me, when they passed me, I wasn’t going to let it get to me.
“I just have to realize it was an amazing race.”
Rathe also played a little mind game with herself. Iowa Falls-Alden’s Ellie Meyer ran close in each race, so the Union junior pretended anyone that yelled “Ellie” cheered for her.
“I was just talking about this with my teammates this morning — if you were to tell me when I was a freshman that I would be running the times I am now, I would have said you’re crazy,” Rathe said.
What about a double podium weekend at state?
“Oh, I would have said you’re crazy, too,” she said. “I remember watching, seeing these girls finish so strong. To this moment, I can’t believe I’m one of them.”
Aubrey Gates placed 10th in the high jump (5 feet) and the 400 relay team of Sydney Anton, Gracie Rathe, Gates and Allie Driscol placed 18th in 52.18.
“We ended up last in our heat, but sixth through eighth were all right there together,” head coach Gina Feldt said. “And when you look at our time, we hit a PR by a tenth of a second. It was a good way to go out.”
“It definitely was not (Aubrey’s) best day (at the high jump), but it was a great showing for her as a sophomore. Tenth in the state is nothing to hold her head down about.”