DES MOINES — Keokuk High School freshman Miracle Ailes may have found her calling when it comes to track and field.

And the rest of the state is starting to find out that Keokuk girls track is a force to be reckoned with.

Ailes surprised even herself in the Class 3A high jump during the opening day of the state track meet on Thursday at Drake Stadium. Ailes soared over the bar at 5 feet, 6 inches, then just missed at 5-7 to finish second and score eight points for her team. That was good enough to put the Chiefs in a tie for ninth place with eight points.

Ailes has found her event, and the Chiefs are chasing a team trophy.

“This is very big for our school because I know we always come here. We’re not always making it to finals or we’re not placing. I know this is going to be very big and I know that my town is going to be very proud of me and Coach (Matt) McGhghy is going to be proud of me,” Ailes said.

Ailes was at her best, and with her mother, Beverly, giving her helpful hints from the stands, she nearly cleared 5-7 on her first attempt, which would have won the meet.

“My mom is my biggest supporter. I know to look at her when I miss a height. She tells me what to do. My Mom used to high jump, so when I make a flaw she is always there to correct it,” Ailes said. “I prep myself and I talk to myself. I tell myself that God is here. I’m here for a reason and no matter what God is still with me and He loves me.

“I am thrilled. I’m very thrilled. I didn’t expect to get second. I came out here to do my best and that’s what I did.”

West Burlington-Notre Dame sophomore Rylie Todd finished tied for fourth at 5-3.

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It was a big day for the Ailes family. Miracle’s sister, Ya’Mia Ailes-Primes, qualified for Saturday’s finals in both the 100 and 200. She finished eighth in the prelims of the 200 in 25.88, then shocked herself by finishing sixth in the 100 prelims in 12.64. When Ailes-Primes realized she had qualified for the final in the 100, she jumped high enough to rival her sister, let out a loud yell and took off on a dead-sprint for the north end zone.

“I just went out here to do my best. I’m really happy that I made it to the finals in the 200. Running the 100 I just wanted to come up here and do my best and see where I’m at for my senior year,” Ailes-Primes said. “I was really inspired. Having her here with me is the best thing ever. Being able to run my senior year with her has made my whole high school career great.

“I’m really glad we can get back up there and show Keokuk that track is something.”

It was also a big day for the Mediapolis and Mount Pleasant boys teams.

Mediapolis finds itself in fourth place in the Class 2A team race with 11 points, thanks to Jagger Gourley and Brennan Swafford. Gourley, who earlier qualified for the finals in the 200, overcame a painfiul hamstring injury he has battled the last five weeks to finish second in the 400 in 49.84. Swafford took sixth in 50.08.

“I knew I just wanted to run my race. I did that. I did the best I could out there. If I couldn’t win, I’m pretty satisfied with getting second. Last year I came in ranked sixth and didn’t even get a medal. I’m happy to get a medal this year,” Gourley said. “I hurt my hamstring about a month and a week ago. I’m still fighting it. It was hurting me during that 200.”

Wapello senior Trenton Massner was close behind Gourley, finishing third in the 400 in 49.88.

“It feels good since at the beginning of the year I never thought I would have been up here in this event. I exceeded the expectations I had for myself and Coach (Todd) Parsons. I wish I could have got second, but Gourley’s fast. I couldn’t take that away from him,” Massner said.

Mount Pleasant sits in a tie for third in the Class 3A boys team race with 12 points. The Panthers were powered by fourth, fifth and sixth-place finishes.

Junior Cody Mertens led things off, sprinting past two runners in the final lap before getting passed at the end and taking fourth in the 3,200 in 9:44.46. Five points for the Panthers.

“I felt a little tired, but I felt pretty good throughout it. I wasn’t where I wanted to be laps three through six, so I was just hoping to get up there with the top pack. I did that at the end, so I’m really happy with that,” Mertens said. “That’s always great. I love our town. We have great kids and great coaches and great teams. Every point counts here, so I’m very happy to come back and score again.”

Moments later, junior Zach Beason added four more points to the Panthers’ total, taking fifth in the discus with a toss of 160-4, a personal best.

“It’s pretty big. We’re trying to go top three as a team, so these points will help,” Beason said.

The Panthers took sixth in the 4x800 in 8:12.56 with the team of Jonathan Ita, Jacob Stukerjurgen, Brody Bender and Kyle Vanderham, adding three more points to the Panthers’ total.

The Panthers’ shuttle hurdle relay team of Keegan Rich, Chase Lamm, Cole Burns and Jake Lowe had the fastest qualifying time for Saturday’s final at 57.31.

WB-ND senior Niles Siefken missed the school record, but made the finals in the discus, finishing eighth with a throw of 156-6 in his final day as a Falcon.

“I was hoping to break the school record today, but it didn’t happen. But hey, I came out here and did what it took to get the team a point and get to finals. I think it’s a pretty good way to end my career,” Siefken said.

Louisa-Muscatine freshman Kylee Sanders not only made the finals of the Class 2A girls long jump, but placed sixth with a leap of 16-10 1/4.

“I really wanted to come out strong, so I really tried to push as hard as I could on that first jump. I think I went a little too hard because after that I started to slow down. I’m really proud of how I did,” Sanders said.