WYOMING - There was no sneaking up on anyone for the Midland girls’ sprint medley relay team as they entered the 1997 state track and field meet inside Drake Stadium in Des Moines that May.
The Eagle foursome of Carla Wosoba, Jessica Hall, Jessy Bertling and Chanda Nissen had the best time in all of class 1A coming into the event, and in the prelim blew away the field with a school-record 1:50.91 clocking that seemed to set the Midland girls up for a championship.
Oh, how painfully close it would actually be.
In the finals the Eagle foursome posted another outstanding time of 1:51.01, but were edged at the end by West Hancock’s 1:50.23 effort that claimed the 1A state sprint medley title.
Midland would have to settle for second, but what a phenomenal run it was.
“What an outstanding meet,” said Eagle girls track coach Nick Williams after the state meet. “Everyone we sent did a great job and as a team we scored points at the state meet for the first time in a long time.”
It wouldn’t be the last.
Wosoba entered state with 1A’s second-best time in the 400-meter dash as well, trailing only Andrew’s Czechoslovakian exchange student Barbara Szlendakova, and in the 1A prelim the Midland freshman showed the form that won events all over eastern Iowa that spring easily cruising to a first-place finish in her heat with a school-record time of 57.75.
The mark wouldn’t last long.
In the 400 finals, Wosoba and Szlendakova met again, as they did many times that spring as both schools were members of the old Big East Conference.
Even with Wosoba breaking her own school-record crossing the finish line with a phenomenal 57.25 clocking, it wasn’t quite enough to top the Andrew speedster who posted a 56.22 effort to win the 1A 400-meter dash title.
Wosoba, who would go on to have a miraculous track and field career in Wyoming, wound up third overall in the event.
“I’ve been track coach here for three years now,” Williams said. “The first year we sent one girl to state. Last year we sent two girls to state and this year sent three individuals and the sprint medley team to state.
“As good a year as we’ve had, setting six school records and winning three meets, next year looks even better as we only graduate four seniors (Marca Wosoba, Stephanie Burke, Nissen and Jessie Paarmann). We’ll look to send even more events to Des Moines next year.”
Marca Wosoba wrapped an outstanding distance running career with a 19th-place performance in the 1A state 3000-meter run while teammate Jenny Ellison, who would also go on to become one of the program’s top distance runners and was making her second straight appearance in the event, was 14th in Des Moines that spring.
At the 1A district meet just a week before state, Ellison set a school-record coming through with an 11:26.30 clocking in the 3000.
Williams was on the cusp of building a powerful program in Wyoming, and many more outstanding campaigns were to come.