Normally, time flies when you’re having fun. However, in 2015, the fun came because the Clarinda Cardinals were flying every time they stepped on the track for the 4x100 meter relay.
Consisting of Lanette Walker, Cynthia Best, Klarissa McElroy and Jaedra Moses, the relay team pulled away down the stretch to take top honors in the race at the Iowa Girls’ State Track Meet in Des Moines. The Cardinals had finished fourth in the event the year before and returned McElroy and Moses from that team.
Clarinda reached the state finals on Saturday by winning its preliminary race Friday with a time of 0:50.30. That time broke a school record for the girls’ 4x100 meter relay that had stood since 1980.
As the spread of the COVID-19 virus has resulted in the cancelation of spring sports in Iowa, we will continue to look back at some of the greatest games and athletic achievements from Clarinda High School and South Page High School. Send your suggestions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include CHS Greatest Game in the subject line and provide the year as part of the email so we can search our archives to find the story.
Please enjoy this account of the performance by Clarinda at the 2015 Iowa Girls’ State Track Meet taken from the archives of the Clarinda Herald-Journal.
When the Clarinda girls’ 4x100 meter relay team walked off the “Blue Oval” of Drake Stadium Saturday, May 23, at the State Track Meet in Des Moines for the final time, they did so in the best way possible - as state champions.
Coming down the final stretch senior Jaedra Moses pulled away from the competition and broke the tape in a time of 50.44 seconds to give the Cardinals the state title in the event.
“Once Jaedra got the baton I gave a sigh of relief because there were no mishaps with the handoffs,” Clarinda coach Marilyn Wagoner said. “As soon as Jaedra got it, I just knew she was going to pull it off. She has been a great senior leader for us.”
“We’re happy we could make Clarinda proud and do it for ourselves because we wanted it so badly,” Moses said.
Clarinda finished the race 0:00.32 ahead of runner-up Osage. Roland-Story collected third place honors with a time of 0:50.82.
Sophomore Lanette Walker ran the opening leg of the relay for the Cardinals. “Before the race started I was nervous, but when I got on the track I had the mindset to come out of the blocks hard and focus on the race,” she said.
Walker did exactly that and then handed off to fellow sophomore Cynthia Best. Sitting slightly off the pace when she received the baton, Best was able to make up some valuable ground for the Cardinals.
Best then handed off to senior Klarissa McElroy for the third leg of the race. While the Cardinals had a strong exchange, one of their key rivals were not as fortunate. Mid-Prairie, who was second in the preliminaries, dropped the baton and as a result finished fifth in the race with a time of 0:51.36.
“I knew as soon as that happened we had a really good chance,” McElroy said.
McElroy put Clarinda in the lead early in her stage of the race and then handed the baton over to Moses for the dramatic anchor leg. Wagoner said the Cardinals always attempt to get Moses the baton at the start of the exchange zone so she can swing around the final corner and go strong to the finish line.
“You couldn’t ask for a better handoff. I knew as soon as Jaedra took off we had a really good chance. We all met her at the finish line and had a big group hug,” McElroy said.
“When Klarissa came around the corner I saw she was in the lead and knew we had a really good chance. Once I got going there was nobody ahead of me, so I was pretty much smiling the whole way to the finish line because I was really excited,” Moses said.
“My heart was pounding when I saw her going across the finish line in first. I was so excited,” Walker said.
The Cardinals proved they would be a team to reckon with Friday, May 22, when they won their preliminary heat in the 4x100 meter relay with a time of 0:50.30.
“They had a nearly flawless race Friday and their handoffs were great. They work so well together. Then they got their nerves together and went out and did it again in the finals,” Wagoner said.
Not only did the Cardinals turn in the fastest qualifying time of the day, but they also set a new Clarinda High School record for the event in the process.
“That was beyond exciting. Our goals were to become state champions and break the school record. I am happy we pushed ourselves and accomplished those two goals we wanted to achieve,” Walker said.
“Our goal the whole season was to set a new school record. We knew if we kept improving each time out we’d get there. It was a great experience breaking a record that has been up there for 35 years,” McElroy said.
“Setting a new school record meant a lot. It hadn’t been broken since 1980, so the fact we were able to do it was really exciting,” Best said.
“It was awesome breaking the school record. I knew this team was one that would work hard for it,” Moses said. “We were really close to breaking the record last year. It’s awesome to say we’re on the school record board.”
Last season, the Cardinals finished fourth in the 4x100 meter relay at the state meet. McElroy and Moses were members of that team along with Jenny Bair and Paige Fast.
However, finding success on the “Blue Oval” was also nothing new for the 2015 quartet from Clarinda. Earlier this year the Cardinals qualified for the Drake Relays in the 4x100 meter relay and posted what was then a personal best time of 0:50.91.
“I think that helped a lot, especially with the girls that hadn’t run at Drake before. I think it helped their nerves a lot because even when you’re a veteran it gets kind of nerve-wracking,” Moses said.
“Coming into Drake we knew we could do something and take some time off. Right before Drake we switched up our order and we really liked it, so we stuck with it,” McElroy said.
Unlike the state meet, the Drake Relays does not use separate class designations for high school events. All 80 schools entered in the relay competed in a single open class. Clarinda finished 16th overall, but was only beaten by schools from larger classes.
“That pushed us to go faster. We knew we could go faster on the blue track than any other track we’ve been on,” Best said.
Earlier Saturday, Moses also competed in the finals of the individual 200 meter dash. She finished sixth in the race with a time of 0:26.35. She qualified for the finals Thursday, May 21, with a time of 0:26.05. That was the fifth best qualifying time in Class 2A and a personal best for Moses in the event.
As a result of those finishes, Clarinda finished tied for 18th with Pocahontas, Shenandoah and Panorama with 13 team points. Clayton Ridge won the state team championship for Class 2A with 54 points.
Clarinda also qualified for the State Track Meet in two other events. Moses and Best each competed in the 100 meter dash, while the Cardinals also qualified in the 4x200 meter relay.
Moses finished third in her preliminary heat as she was clocked at 0:13.03. She missed qualifying for the finals on Saturday by only 0:00.11 and finished 12th overall in the event.
Meanwhile, Best competed in a separate heat and turned in a strong performance of her own with a time of 0:13.08. As a result, she finished tied for 14th in the event.
In the 4x200 meter relay Friday, the Cardinals turned in a personal best time of 1:49.36 to finish 18th overall. The members of the relay team were Allison Fast, Lauren Jones, Best and Moses.
“This was my first experience with the Iowa State Track Meet and it will be a very memorable moment for me,” Wagoner said. “We had a great weekend.