Shining on the big stage and coming through when it matters most is the dream of every athlete.
Clarinda realized that dream during the 2016 Class 2A Iowa State Track Meet when the Cardinals won the shuttle hurdle relay on the “Blue Oval” of Drake Stadium in Des Moines. The title team consisted of Lucas Shatava, Zach Carlson, J.J. Clark and Jacob Carlson.
After setting a new school record in the event during their preliminary heat at the state meet, the Cardinals broke the mark again as they posted a time of 57.16 in the finals. That time was just 0.07 off the Class 2A state record in the shuttle hurdle relay set by Hudson in 2008.
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 email@example.com. 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 boys’ 2016 Iowa State Track Meet taken from the archives of the Clarinda Herald-Journal.
Clarinda won the sixth boys’ state relay championship in school history in blistering fashion Saturday, May 21, at the Iowa State Track Meet at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
The Cardinals claimed top honors in the shuttle hurdle relay. The Clarinda quartet of Lucas Shatava, Zach Carlson, J.J. Clark and Jacob Carlson crossed the finish line in 57.16 seconds.
That time was just 0:0.07 off of the Iowa Class 2A state meet record for the shuttle hurdle relay. Hudson posted the state record time of 0:57.09 in 2008.
The Cardinals also shattered their own school record in the shuttle hurdle relay. Clarinda first broke the record during the state qualifying meet held May 12 at Treynor. The Cardinals then lowered that record in the state preliminaries and shaved almost a full second off their time in the finals.
During the qualifying meet, the foursome also set a new school record in the 4x100 meter relay. Then, in their final race at the state meet Saturday, the quartet eclipsed the previous Clarinda High School record in the 4x400 meter relay.
“Last season we were very close to getting the 4x400 record. So coming into the season we were working and training to get that. To also break the 4x100 and the shuttle hurdle records this season was amazing. I know our shuttle hurdle time is going to be up there for a long time,” Zach Carlson said.
“We set a very good challenge for the next group of guys in the shuttle hurdle relay. We made sure we set it low enough that anyone that goes for it is going to be right up there competing for that state title again,” Shatava said.
“At the beginning of the year we ran a 1:01 in the shuttle hurdle. I didn’t think we would get anywhere close to the record, but we smoked it. It was a great feeling to obliterate it and hopefully that record is going to be there for a long time,” Jacob Carlson said.
After posting the fastest state meet qualifying time in Class 2A, Clarinda was placed in the first of six preliminary heats held Thursday, May 19, for the shuttle hurdle relay. The Cardinals won their heat with a time of 0:58.01 to secure one of the eight spots in the finals Saturday.
Clarinda was seeded third in the finals and was assigned to lane one in the second heat. Running right beside the Cardinals in the heat were West Branch and Dyserville Beckman. The Bears and Blazers had each won their preliminary heats Thursday with time of 0:57.75 to claim the top two sports in the finals.
Lucas Shatava ran the opening leg of the relay for the Cardinals and was neck and neck with the challengers from West Branch and Beckman.
“My biggest goal was to get our guys into one of the top positions so we could maintain a good pace and put us in a position where our anchor could just fly down the track,” Shatava said.
As the second leg of the race got underway, Zach Carlson pulled ahead of the second runner for West Branch. The Cardinals would never relinquish that lead.
“I knew the finals were do or die, so before the race I was focusing on my form. The other thought that kept running through my mind was to run with aggression and go as hard as I could,” Zach Carlson said. “I saw Lucas come to the first hurdle and all three of them went over at the same time. I knew I was going to have to haul tail, so I got in the block and was thinking this is what I had practiced three years for. When I took off it felt like everything was one fluid motion. Once I cleared the first hurdle I knew we were golden.”
Meanwhile, as Zach Carlson claimed the lead for Clarinda, the second runner for Beckman clipped his first hurdle and tumbled to the track. The Blazers were ultimately disqualified from the race.
“I saw his fall, but with the way Zach was pulling ahead, I didn’t think there was a way anyone was going to have a chance to catch us,” Clark said. “All that was going through my mind was to get Jacob a bigger lead so he could close strong. We knew West Branch had a strong runner in the anchor leg.”
Clark flew down the Blue Oval of Drake Stadium for Clarinda in the third leg and extended the lead to nearly a full hurdle over West Branch. Jacob Carlson then ran a clean anchor leg to seal the state championship for the Cardinals, while West Branch was forced to settle for second place with a time of 0:57.44.
“Everybody has their best runner in the anchor leg and I realized they might be a little faster than me. So when I saw J.J. was ahead I just focused on getting my lead leg down and powering through each hurdle. As soon as I heard J.J. yell ‘go’ I went as fast I could. I went right over my last hurdle and just kept pushing. When I crossed the finish line I looked up and my brother was right there. He was freaking out and ran up to hug me,” Jacob Carlson said.
“The West Branch kid was fast, but Jacob was running real fast and I knew he wouldn’t be able to catch him. It was pretty sweet. I have never had a better feeling. I bear hugged him as he was running full speed. That was the best feeling I ever had,” Zach Carlson said.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the track, Clark and Shatava shared their jubilation together before joining their teammates for a group celebration.
“I knew Jacob would give all he had in that final leg. As soon as I saw him duck his head I just blew up. The excitement was outrageous. I was celebrating with J.J. and it felt so good,” Shatava said. “That emotion is something you probably don’t feel more than five times in your life. That feeling of accomplishment and happiness was immensely joyful.”
“We were all screaming and jumping up and down. We met in the middle and hugged each other. It was a great feeling,” Clark said.
However, the shuttle hurdle relay only marked the beginning of a very impressive day for the Cardinals. The foursome also qualified for the state track meet in the 4x100 meter relay, the 4x200 meter relay and the 4x400 meter relay. Clarinda advanced to the finals of both the 4x100 meter relay and 4x400 meter relay, which were the final two events of the meet Saturday.
Running in lane seven during the 4x100 meter relay, the Cardinals posted a time of 0:43.97 to earn sixth place honors. West Burlington Notre Dame won the Class 2A title with a time of 0:42.69.
“When it came time to run the 4x100 we hadn’t really calmed down from the excitement of the shuttle hurdle relay. The race went well and we placed pretty well,” Shatava said.
Competing in the third preliminary heat of the 4x100 meter relay Friday, May 20, the Cardinals were clocked at 0:43.95. Although Clarinda was third in its heat, the time was still the sixth fastest preliminary time overall and earned the Cardinals a spot in the final field of eight Saturday.
“It was a great feeling knowing we went into the finals seeded sixth and were able to get sixth,” Clark said.
The Cardinals then concluded their impressive showing Saturday by placing seventh in the 4x400 meter relay. The Clarinda relay squad completed the race in a new Clarinda High School record time of 3:26.02. The previous school record was 3:26.4.
“We knew that would be our last race together and we were only 0:0.6 away from the school record. We knew we could break it and we went all out. Our splits all went down,” Shatava said.
“The 4x400 was one of the oldest records on the board and it was the last race of my high school career, so that was pretty special,” Jacob Carlson said.
“That was the last race I got to run with my brother and J.J., so breaking the 4x400 record was pretty sweet. We had been aiming at that for some time,” Zach Carlson said.
Albia won its fourth straight 4x400 meter relay title Saturday with a Class 2A state meet record of 3:18.09.
Clarinda earned the final spot in the finals of the 4x400 meter relay Friday with a preliminary time of 3:27.03. Clarinda finished fourth in the third heat of the preliminaries and edged Cascade, who was fifth in the third heat, by 0:0.82 for the final spot in the finals.
Along with qualifying for the 4x100 meter relay and 4x400 meter relay finals Friday, the Cardinals also competed in the finals of the 4x200 meter relay.
Rather than a preliminary and final format like the other relay races Clarinda participated in, the 4x200 meter relay is divided into three heats and the final order of finish is based on a ranking of the times posted by each of the 24 schools.
Clarinda was entered in the third heat and finished seventh with a time of 1:31.57. However, that time was still the 10th fast overall in the event. The six schools that finished ahead of the Cardinals in the third heat claimed the top six spots overall in the race.
By medaling in three events during the state meet, the Cardinals finished 14th overall in the team standings with 15 points. West Burlington Notre Dame won the Class 2A team championship with 79 points.
“I feel like we did this for our teammates and for Clarinda. Our coach (Dave Carper) said we made Clarinda track history, and it makes me proud that he had that kind of faith in use,” Shatava said.
To further emphasis just how historic the performance of the Cardinals was, the victory in the shuttle hurdle relay was the first state championship for Clarinda in a relay event since 1969. That year the Cardinals won the Class A 880-yard relay, which changed to the 4x200 meter relay in 1978 when Iowa converted its track events to the metric system, with a time of 1:31.4.
In 1956, Clarinda won three state relay titles. The Cardinals won the one-mile relay, now the 4x400 meter relay, with a time of 3:29.9. Clarinda also won the one-mile medley relay (1,600 meter medley) with a time of 3:45.1 and the two-mile relay (4x800 meter relay) in 8:09.8.
On the strength of those three relay titles, the Cardinals were able to win the Class A team championship with 48 points. The team was coached by Al Gray. The Cardinals also finished as the state team runner-up in 1927 and 1963.
Clarinda won the first of its six relay state titles in 1953 when the Cardinals took top honors in the two-mile relay. Clarinda was clocked at 8:21.6 in the race.
Beyond the records and accomplishments the Cardinals compiled this season, all four of the relay members said they were just as pleased with the special bond they forged.
“This was probably the best track season of my life being with those guys. It was like a family and I felt close to all of them. I enjoyed knowing I’d be with those guys every day working our tails off to get better and make Clarinda look good,” Shatava said.
“We were like brothers and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else,” Clark said.
“I just feel incredibly blessed to do this with my three buddies, one of which is my brother,” Jacob Carlson said.
“It was really something to run with these guys and be able to do what we did in one year,” Zach Carlson said.