By Pat Dailey (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
HOLLISTER — Dani Wilson doesn’t hide from the fact her road to a possible medal at State doesn’t figure to be as formidable in Class 1 as the journey she previously traveled as a two-time State qualifier in Class 3.
Wilson transferred from Mt. Vernon to Springfield Greenwood at the start of this school year.
“My chances just improved a lot,” Wilson said. “It’s a lot easier since I’m in Class 1, instead of Class 3. In Class 3, my times would still be up there. But there’s just not a lot of people in Class 1.
“I want to feel what it’s like to be on the podium. In Class 3, it’s so much harder to get on the podium because of all the St. Louis girls.”
Wilson played the part of a medal contender by winning the 100 (12.7) and 200 (26.2) at the Hollister Invitational on Friday.
Wilson’s transfer has went as well as she could have hoped.
“My new teammates have been so nice. They’ve been really receptive of me,” she said. “My old teammates are all still my friends. I ran with them for so long. I keep track of all my friends from Mt. Vernon. I saw them at the Pierce City Meet a couple weeks ago and they were like, ‘You’re back!’”
With Greenwood not having a home track, the Jays and Lady Jays hold their practices at Missouri State.
“But we’re not allowed on the track until 4,” Wilson said. “So, we warm up forever. Our warmups are terribly hard.”
Wilson reports she’s in the best shape of her life, thanks to increased training.
“I didn’t do Show Choir this year since I was at a different school,” she said. “So, I started my training earlier. I’ve been training since last summer. It’s been a really long track year.”
Sarcoxie’s Cupp takes both hurdles
The biggest challenge for Sarcoxie’s Tia Cupp en route to her sweep of the 100 hurdles (16.38) and 300 hurdles (49.3) was strong gusts of wind. During the 300 hurdles, the runners were going into the wind at the beginning of the race, before having the wind at their back for the finish.
“I didn’t like it,” Cupp said. “The wind was blowing into my eyes and then my eyes would start watering. It was not good. I was telling myself to keep pushing and try to get the goal I set for myself.”
Cupp, a freshman, has developed a quick rivalry with Adrian’s Jenna Shipley, who was eighth in the 300 hurdles in Class 2 at State last year. They have ran against each other in both hurdles events at two meets.
“I try to stay with her as much as I can,” Cupp said. “It’s tough. I’m working toward trying to beat her.”
Cupp has joined Sarcoxie’s 4 x 800 relay, which returned three members from a sixth-place finish at State last year. She isn’t put off by the timing of the 4 x 800 relay. At most meets, the 4 x 800 relay is held only 10-15 before the 100 hurdles.
“I’m going to stick with the relay,” Cupp said. “I definitely like it.”
Wolves’ sprinters again faring very well
Lane Carroll was able to display his quickness on his way to 1,000-plus points for Reeds Spring’s basketball program. Now, he’s showing off his speed as the anchor man on the Wolves’ 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relays that both took first Friday.
Carroll has been a most pleasant surprise, after never competing in track before.
“(Teammate and classmate Kyle Modlin) kind of pulled the ‘Senior Card’ on me and said I should come out for track because I would be a good asset,” Carroll said. “I’m loving it. It’s something different, coming from basketball.
“Since I’d never done track, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. Everyone welcomed me. Coach (Craig) Barr has worked with me and Kyle has been there for me. Any question I’ve had, he’s been there to answer it.”
Carroll teamed with Robbie Huseman, Troy Froeschle and Nick Huston to win the 4 x 200 relay. He partnered with Huston, Modlin and Kelly Newton to win the 4 x 100 relay.
Reeds Spring’s seniors a year ago established a legacy as the greatest group of sprinters the school has ever known. The seniors this year don’t have a runner the likes of 2017 state champion Korey Robinette, but have proven solid enough to again give the Wolves hopes of a strong finish at State.
“Most of our sprinters this year jumped last year,” Carroll said. :They’ve made the transition to sprinting and they’re doing well. Our goal is to go to State.”
Tigers’ Morris wins twice on home track
As Hollister’s Michael Morris ran away from the field to win the 100, one of his competitors in an adjoining lane was nothing short of shocked.
Seems Morris had fibbed a bit about what his seeding time was.
“I told him I ran a 12.5,” Morris said. “I try not to brag about my times. I want them to feel like they have a chance, not that I’m going to completely dominate them.”
Morris has inherited the role of being the sprinter to beat at most of the meets he’s been in this year. Last year, he was repeatedly chasing Reeds Spring grad Korey Robinette and Fair Grove’s Isaac Mauldin.
“It feels kind of lonely without Isaac and Korey,” Morris said. “I definitely miss their competition. Each time I run I feel like maybe I’m running closer or maybe even surpass them. It took nine straight months of training to get where I’m at.”
Morris also easily won the 200, which he considers his niche.
“I like the 200 more,” Morris said. “I like the buildup during the first 100 and then complete acceleration for the second 100.”
Morris lived in Virginia and Oklahoma, before moving to Hollister prior to his freshman year. He grew up playing soccer and didn’t run track until becoming a Tiger.
“The four years I’ve been here there have been some ups and downs, but it’s been fun,” Morris said. “Track season has been one thing to make it enjoyable.”
Wolves’ Modlin crawls to gold medal
The boys 300 hurdles featured a finish few on hand had ever seen before. Both Reeds Spring’s Kyle Modlin and School of the Ozarks’ Dawson Sherer stumbled after clearing their final hurdle and fell onto the track, before scrambling and crawling to cross the finish line 1-2.
Modlin had scrapes on his knees and hands to show for his skirmish.
“I saw (Sherer) next to me and was focusing on getting ahead of him when I looked up and saw the hurdle,” Modlin said. “I jumped over the hurdle wrong and hit it on the side.”
Given how unusual the finish was, Modlin is hopeful of being able to re-live it.
“If someone took video of the race, it would be fun to watch,” he said.
It was only the third time Modlin, a member of the Wolves’ 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays, has ran the 300 hurdles.
“Everyone has been telling me I need to work on my form,” Modlin said. “I ran it last year at Districts and got fifth without any practice at all. I also got a 45 last year at Districts without falling, so maybe I can go somewhere with this.
“I was high on the hurdles today. I guess I used my speed in between each hurdle. I know I can definitely improve. But I don’t want to ruin our 4 x 400 relay and get hurt. If I can fix my form, it might be something I could stick with.”
Modlin has been proud to see Reeds Spring carry on the Wolves’ strong tradition in the sprints.
“We’re trying to fill in the pieces that we lost,” Modlin said. “I think we’re doing a good job with what we have. It’s hard for us to know that we’re living up to expectations because there’s Carl Junction and they returned all their guys from last year. But I think we’re meeting our challenges pretty good.”