Finally healthy for track, Ballard's Paityn Noe wants to break Iowa's 3,000-meter record

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

HUXLEY — Paityn Noe is ready to show Iowa what she can do when fully healthy.

The Ballard junior enters the 2022 track season as one of the top distance runners in the state. She won the Class 3A individual state cross country title in the fall after placing second as a sophomore and third as a freshman.

But she's never been able to run at peak form during track.

In 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic cost Noe her freshman year. As a sophomore, she suffered a stress fracture right before the start of the season. The injury nearly cost her another year of competition.

“It was definitely not fun,” Noe said. “It was really frustrating with all the cross training I had to do. I wanted to get out there and run, but I couldn’t.” 

More:With talent in all areas, Ames girls track is poised for a run at the 2022 state title

Ballard junior Paityn Noe is a Division 1 cross country and girls track prospect. Noe is entering a high school track sesaon healthy for the first time this spring as she takes aim at state championships and possible state records in the 3,000 and 1,500-meter running events.

Still, thanks to her desire and discipline to do what was necessary to make it happen, she was able to start running in meets by the end of the season. Noe ran in the Raccoon River Conference and Ballard's 3A qualifying meet.

Despite all of her missed time, she qualified for state in the 3,000 and 1,500-meter races. Noe placed fourth in the 3,000 and fifth in the 1,500 with respective times of 10:06.57 and 4:48.72.

But Noe is never fully satisfied with where she's at as a runner. And now that she's entering her junior season healthy, the other distance runners in the state have been put on notice.

“I’m feeling healthy and feeling great,” Noe said. “It’s so much better. Way less stress coming in and just showing what I can do.” 

Noe has just scratched the surface of her running ability.

"Paityn has a high pain tolerance and is able to fight through things others might not want or be able to," Ballard head cross country and girls track coach Scott Barth said. "Her dedication and drive are unparalleled. She is always viewing her work now, her accomplishments now as the path to running Division I in college. There is no 'end line' for Paityn's goals. They are long term and they are evolving."

Noe spent her first two years running with another Division I prospect. Former teammate Shewaye Johnson, now a standout runner at Prosper High School in Texas, won the 3A individual state title in 2020 and last spring won both the Drake Relays and the 3A state championship in the 3,000.

More:Johnson says goodbye with runner-up finish in 1,500. The Ballard sophomore is moving to Texas in June

Not having Johnson around has been an adjustment for Noe during her junior year. But she adapted well during cross country and is trying to do the same for track.

“I’m finding ways to push myself,” Noe said. “I usually run with the guys on the team. They push me and it’s good motivation.” 

Her work ethic has set an example for her Ballard teammates to follow.

"She's always pushing everyone," Ballard freshman distance runner Annika Larson said. "It's been really nice to have someone tell us (freshmen) what's to come and what to expect during races."

Larson qualified for state individually in cross country and, like Noe, will run the 1,500 in track. 

"I feel like I wouldn't be as good as I was if I didn't realize there was someone better than me," Larson said. "I need to keep pushing to do my best and Paityn has really helped with that."

Noe will also run relays and could help Ballard continue its tradition of sending a team to state in the 4x800 relay.

More:Nevada's Caeden DaSilva wants to end his track career with a gold medal

A healthy Paityn Noe will bolster Ballard's distance relay teams in 2022. The Bomber girls placed fifth in 3A during last year's state track meet.

"It's really cool to have someone like that to share our successes with as teammates," Ballard senior distance runner Kate Huisinga said. "It's really nice when she can help out with relay teams. It's fun to run with her."

But though she can handle 800s just fine, Noe's real strengths are the 3,000 and 1,500. 

“My goals are obviously to win state and maybe get some school records in there too,” Noe said. “Maybe even a state record in the 3,000. That’d be pretty cool.” 

The 3A state meet record in the 3,000 is 9:55.37 set by Davenport Assumption's Joy Ripslinger in 2017. Johnson just missed the mark at last year's state meet after finishing in 9:57.21 and she beat that mark during the Drake Relays with a winning time of 9:44.88.

The all-time state record time in the event is 9:26.87, set by Linn-Mar's Stephanie Jenks in 2014.

"Her strength is definitely the 3,000, where she is running at an elite level and will be tough to beat statewide," Barth said. "She is aiming for an all-time Iowa best time and is on track to make a run at it. Can she do the same in the 1,500? Time will tell."

Noe is ready to give it a shot.

“I’m really excited for this year,” Noe said. “It’s a new opportunity and I’m really looking forward to getting to race and show what I’m able to do.”