Area athletes shine at Strafford Track Meet

By Dana Harding

Strafford’s track meet is annually one of the area’s best small school meets. Tuesday night’s performances did not disappoint.


Burns doubles in the 1600m, 800m

Some days are better than others, and for Shane Burns, Tuesday was definitely a good day..

The Strafford senior raced away from MV-BT/Liberty’s Jackson Connor on the final lap in the 1600 for a 4:26.33 victory.

After the race, Burns was elated with the finish.

“I haven’t really had too many people to run with this year,” Burns said. “I was pretty nervous going into the race and just excited to have a really good competitor. [Connor] really pushed me the first two laps, and I knew that it was now or never on the third. I tried to break away as much as I could, because I knew he would have a really good kick.”

Following the race, Burns received another surprise at midfield when he was presented the Aldo Sebben award for outstanding achievements in cross country this past season.

With a first-place finish and XC award already on the mantle, Burns showed he wasn’t quite finished with his home track.

Against a salty 800 field, Burns once again led wire-to-wire; however, the field wasn’t quite as accommodating as in the longer race. Stockton’s Cooper Locke closed hard on the final turn and seemed to be poised to take the lead, but ran out of real estate in the final 20 meters. Locke finished in 2:03.82.

Clark pulls off a pair of sprint upsets

While Madison Clark certainly isn’t going to sneak up on anyone after receiving an athlete of the week profile as a seventh-grader, Tuesday’s sprint competition featured heralded, multi-event challengers at every turn.

Dora’s Ashlynn Vanatter, Ash Grove’s Mallory Keith and MT-BT/Liberty’s Allison Smith are all contenders in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events … and that’s before you add in 100/200 specialist Dannie Wilson from Mt. Vernon.

The Fair Grove freshman kicked off the afternoon with a 12.78 victory in the 100 and then proved it wasn’t a fluke with a come-from-behind, photo-finish win in the 200.

After the turn, Wilson and Vanatter paired up stride-for-stride, with Clark trailing just a step behind. With a final burst, the diminutive freshman managed to make up the ground and lean through the line. Clark finished in 26.47, Wilson in 26.58 and Vanatter in 26.62.

“Honestly, I thought they were way ahead of me,” Clark said. “I heard [coach Lindsay Martin], and she just … she always makes me go. I felt them right next to me, so I leaned as hard as I could and just strided out.”

Sandwiched between the 100 and 200 victories was a third-place finish in the 400 behind Vanatter (59.89) and Keith (1:00.52)..

Clark felt her 1:00.6 finish could have been better, were it not for a tactical error during the race.

“I tried a new strategy, which did not work,” Clark said. “I tried to sprint the first 100 and then kind of pace myself with them into the last straightaway. These girls are really educated on how to run this race, and they’re both seniors. Whenever I got there, I was already pooped out, so they just caught me … that’s not my race. I’m going to push myself and make myself get better.”

Galligos nets distance double

When Anna Galligos stepped to the 1600 and 3200 meter starting lines, she may have noticed something missing.

A pair of somethings, actually.

New Covenant Academy opted not to run twins Claire and Katie McCune in either race, despite the pair having top ten area times in the 1600 and the top two finishes in the 3200.

Galligos and Springfield Catholic teammate Andrea Gray promptly went out and paced each other to a one-two finish of their own, with Galligos winning the event in 5:35.71, and Gray following behind in 5:45.

Several events later, the Catholic senior ran alone en route to a 3200 victory in 12:22.7. Galligos set the school record two weeks ago in a crowded field with an 11:51.41 fourth-place finish..

While the shortened field opened the door for a pair of first-place finishes, Galligos would much rather be the hunter.

“I like to have competition and have someone in front of me to pace off of and try to beat,” Galligos said. “This is the only the second time I’ve run the 1600 this year, so I really just wanted to beat my time beforehand. I’m really focusing on the 3200 this year, so this isn’t really my prime event.”

Riley continues to improve in hurdle events

Multi-sport athletes like Tyson Riley are typically quick to pick up new things, and then become good at those sports, as well.

After strong football and basketball seasons, the Springfield Catholic sophomore is blossoming on the track in an event full of both speed and technique … the hurdles.

Riley won both the 110- and 300-meter hurdle events Tuesday.

His times of 15.67 in the 110 and 41.09 in the 300 are each right on par with his top-ten area bests; however, the sophomore can only get better as his form continues to improve.

“My plan is just to run as hard as possible and, hopefully, you don’t die at the end,” Riley said. “My technique right now is actually pretty bad. I’m just kind of fast in between. I really try to focus on the last ones, but it’s hard because you’re so tired.”