ANAMOSA - During the entire 1996 Anamosa boys track and field campaign, then Raider senior Nic Weers had his mind set on one thing and one thing only.
To close his phenomenal career at Anamosa High School with a coveted 400-meter hurdles state championship.
That’s not to say Weers was taking any of his numerous other events for the team that spring lightly by any stretch of the imagination. Anyone who knows Weers knows when he puts his mind to something, it gets done, and he had his mind made up to once again compete at the highest level possible.
And in the spring of 1996, the results were the stuff of legend.
Flash back two years and Weers claimed his first class 3A 400-hurdles state championship as a mere sophomore in 1994. Then after getting edged out by his nemesis, Western Dubuque’s Bryan Featherston, in 1995, the two turned in a show for the ages during a dramatic 1996 run that would end with the pair literally taking it right to the wire at Drake Stadium in late May.
One of those classic showdowns came in late April at the prestigious Drake Relays, where Weers placed third in the event behind only champion Dustin Avey (52.50-seconds), of Ames and runner-up Featherston (54.54), but ahead of Iowa City High’s Jason Dwight, Pleasant Valley’s Chris Norris and Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Jason Drewlow.
But as frustrated as Weers was with the finish, more than an hour after the awards were already given the Raider senior was notified that his time had been disqualified, allegedly due to a trail leg not passing over one of the hurdles.
“I thought the whole thing was handled very poorly,” said Anamosa boys track coach Chuck Smith after the news broke.
“It would have been one thing to tell us right when the event ended. It would have been tough to deal with, but it wouldn’t have been as tough as the way they handled it. I can’t understand why they took so long to tell us. The official was right at the spot of Nic’s first hurdle. If he saw Nic’s trail leg not pass over the hurdle, why didn’t he tell anyone? Again, it was just handled very poorly.”
How did Weers handle it? Like champions do.
He went back to work winning 100, 200 and 400 hurdles races all over eastern Iowa, as well as scoring for the team in the long jump. At the Raiders’ own regular-season ending Ken Fearing Relays May 13, Weers set a school and stadium-record in his final journey around his home track winning the 400 hurdles with a time of 54.11.
But the best was still yet to come.
Weers and Featherston lined up against each other one more time on a rain-soaked Drake Stadium track in Des Moines for the class 3A state 400-meter hurdle finals, and were neck-and-neck for almost the entire race. Coming around the final turn Weers had a slight lead, but Featherston was closing fast.
At the finish line no one could tell who actually won the race, and neither could state meet officials in the 1996 age of hand-held timing.
Both Weers and Featherston, as well as hundreds of Anamosa and Western Dubuque fans waited to hear who would be announced the winner. And they waited, and waited and waited.
Weers paced around the Drake Stadium infield for more than a half hour before the announcement finally came across the loudspeaker.
Weers was the state champion, and in a school-record time of 53.85 (a mark that still stands today).
Featherston’s final clocking was a 53.86.
The 400 hurdles wasn’t the only event Weers placed in at the state meet either, also taking fifth in the 200 with a 22.67 clocking.
“Nic just had a fantastic weekend,” Smith said. “He just keeps breaking records every time out.”
Weers would continue his track career at Iowa State University where for four more years he was able to do what he loves best. Compete.