By Josh Hall
JEFFERSON CITY – Carl Junction sophomore Joe Kennedy was relaxing inside of the school’s bus during a six-hour weather delay at the Class 4 state track and field meet at Licklider Track Complex at Jefferson City High School on Saturday.
Kennedy thought his teammates were joking when they told him he would be filling in for the team’s 4×100-meter relay team that was looking to defend its state championship.
It wasn’t a joke. While competing in the pole vault, Sam Repsher suffered a foot injury that would keep him from running. That’s when Kennedy got the call.
“I was just kind of chilling on the bus and they came in and told me Sam got hurt pole vaulting,” Kennedy said. “At first I thought they were messing with me, because I had just kind of been hanging out all day. Then I figured out they were serious. I was a little nervous, but I got mentally prepared.”
The Bulldogs went on to repeat as the champions in the 4×100, hours after winning the 4×200-meter relay that helped lead Carl Junction to a fifth-place finish with 41 points.
While the Bulldogs had to overcome their share of adversity, it was Carthage who was the top area team. The Tigers took third place with 46 points. Webb City tied for fifth with 41.
“If anybody knows about adversity, it’s definitely us,” Bulldogs senior Luke Berliew said. “Carl Junction, we know how to overcome that.”
Berliew had a couple of reasons to back up that statement.
The Bulldogs had already lost a member of their relay team to graduation, and another did not participate this season.
They still had high expectations.
“It’s just all about building the team back up, starting from scratch and making due with what we’ve got,” Berliew said.
The Bulldogs did more than make due.
The 4×100 squad of Michael Elbert, Berliew, Kennedy and Weston Wendt won the race in 43.15. Repsher, Elbert, Berliew and Wendt took home the gold in the 4×200 in 1:27.84.
Berliew, the No. 3 runner, and Wendt, the Bulldogs’ anchor, were the only two members of the teams that competed in both relays last season when Carl Junction took first in the 4×100 and second in the 4×200.
Repsher, a junior, wasn’t a sprinter until this season, and Elbert decided to come out for track for the first time during his senior year.
“Last year, I wasn’t fast, so I never got on any of the teams,” said Repsher, who entered the pole vault as the No. 2 seed, but was forced to bow out early in the event. “I’m thankful for these guys and for Weston helping me get faster and stronger and be able to be a a part of this team and win a state championship.”
Elbert was elated to be a part of a championship team, as well.
“This feels great,” he said. “I’m a football guy. I always thought I’d win state in football. It feels awesome to get a state championship. I love these guys.”
Wendt also brought took second in the 200 meters. The junior suffered a back injury prior to the state meet last year and was eager to show what he was capable of when healthy.
“I relaxed, finally got my knees up, and finally ran my race,” he said. “It came together.”
Carthage Boys Take Home Third-Place Team Title
Carthage boys track had never gone home with a state track and field trophy before Saturday, and they did it with depth.
The Tigers qualified in 13 events at the state meet. Their most ever by six, and medaled in 10 of the 13. The only thing they lacked was a state champ.
“It’s a pretty special honor,” an emotional Andy Youngworth said. “You can do well at the state track meet with three or four really great athletes, but we had no meet champions. It’s just a bunch of third, fourth, fifth and sixths. We’ve talked for years that you win track meets with depth. It came down to with four or five points we could’ve maybe won.”
Youngworth handed out his coach’s medals to his seniors after celebrating the third-place team trophy, wanting to make sure all his athletes went home with a medal.
“It’s been awesome. This is a great group of kids,” he said. “Coaching boys especially, they’re just, difficult at times to handle. Difficult to be around. But they work hard. They compete. This is the first meet we didn’t win this year, and I’ll take a third-place trophy.”
Carthage collected points in multiple fashions, but was led by its relay teams. The Tigers 4×200-meter relay team of Dylan Pruiett, Corben Pugh, Taylor Emery and Arkell Smith that finished second scored the most points for Carthage.
Riddle takes first in 3,200, leads Webb City relay
Webb City junior Ryan Riddle earned his first-career gold medal after winning the 3,200.
With a six-hour weather delay in the mix, Riddle had plenty of time to recover for his individual race after leading the Cardinals to a second-place finish in the 4×800-meter relay.
“I was just waiting for it to start,” Riddle said.
Earlier in the day, Riddle had some ground to make up when he took the baton for the final leg of the relay.
Riddle did it a few hundred yards at a time as the Cardinals’ anchor helped lead Webb City to a second-place finish in 7:57.95.
“We were sixth or seventh whenever I got (the baton),” Riddle said. “I said I needed to start getting as many people as I can. I started picking them off every 200 (meters).”
Riddle’s time of 1:53.524 was the fastest time of every competitor in the event.
“We were ranked 10th coming in, so nobody really expected what we could do,” he said. “We spent all week getting focused and going into the race, we were just going to do our best.”
The Cardinals team made up of Tadd Capron, Grant Miller, Cole Cooper and Riddle believed they could exceed their seed.
“Coming into this race, we were thinking to ourselves that we could all hit our goal times,” Riddle said.
Camdenton’s Hill takes second in the 100
Camdenton junior Jacob Hill had already set a school record in the 200-meters this season. He’s had his eyes set on breaking the record in the 100 meters since then.
Hill accomplished that feat and earned a second-place finish in the procesces in the 100 meters with a time of 10.80.
It was the fastest time for Hill in his career.
“I feel really good about the race,” Hill said. “I was feeling a little sore in my knee before-hand, so I came in and didn’t know how I was going to do. I just gave it my all and pushed myself to the fullest extent.”
“It’s a great feeling knowing I’m in the Camdenton record book.”