Carthage finishes strong to capture Class 4 team championship

The area was dominant at the class 4 state meet on Friday and Saturday.

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE MEET
CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS OF THE MEET

Carthage finishes strong for team title

Good thing, too.

The Carthage senior helped spearhead a strong finish to vault the Tigers into a Class 4 team championship Saturday.

Heading into the final two events, Carthage’s 48 points trailed both Grandview (52 points) and Carl Junction (51 points).

With the team title to be decided by the 4×400 meter relay and long jump, the Tigers had to feel good about their chances.

Especially with Smith participating in both.

Corben Pugh, Jayden Morgan and Clay Stout put Carthage in perfect position after the first three legs of the relay, and then Smith powered home for the win (3:18.62).

“As I’m watching the first three legs, I just had a lot of trust in my team,” Smith said. “I knew they’d put me in a good position. Once I got the baton, we had talked about how we weren’t going to lose that race. Once I hit that last 100, I felt people coming up on me, and I could see Carl Junction in front of me. I knew I had to do it for the team.”

The relay vaulted the Tigers into first place by a single point (52-51) over Carl Junction, meaning the long jump final would determine the overall championship.

“All things considered, I did all right,” Smith said. “I could have been better, but there were just a lot of nerves and a lot of relief after the 4×4; a lot of pressure on my shoulders going into those last jumps.”

Smith’s 22-01 finish was good enough for fifth place in the event and, more importantly, good enough to secure the team title for Carthage.

“It’s huge for me, it’s huge for the team and it’s huge for our coaches,” Smith said. “All the work that we put in together was for this moment right here.”

Dylan Pruiett got the scoring rolling on day two with a first-place finish in the high jump at 6-07. The junior was the sole competitor to clear the mark.

“I had a few rough jumps, but came out on top,” Pruiett said. “The two competitors I was jumping against for second and third, they were doing good all the way up, so I didn’t know. I could have gone either way,”

The Tigers were also paced by a pair of third-place finishes from Dylan Lancaster in the 110 meter high hurdles (14.89) and the 4×200 meter relay team of Pugh, Morgan, Smith and Pruiett (1:28.98).

Swadley wins both discus and shot put

A day after winning the discus, Willard’s Nate Swadley returned to put his stamp on the shot put.

Swadley’s 59-5.75 mark placed him on top of the podium for the second time in 2018 and a record-tying seventh time in his high school career.

“I was just shooting for a PR today,” Swadley said. “I didn’t get that, but I came out with a medal — another one — so I’m definitely happy with that.”

Surprisingly, the senior Tiger’s didn’t think the winning throw was anything special as it left his hand.

“It just kind of felt like all the others,” Swadley said, “I didn’t feel like the great ones that I’ve had in the past, which is a good sign if we had more meets, but I’m happy with what I got.”

Swadley’s seven medals tie him with former Olympian and Willard graduate Jason Pyrah, who set the mark during a two-year career on the track in the late 80s.

Riddle and Stasney trade victories in the 1600 and 800

Webb City’s Ryan Riddle hoped to wrap up his high school track career with a trio of victories in the state championships.

Standing in the way of that goal was long-time rival and West Plains senior Ben Stasney.

After pulling away from Stasney in the final lap of Friday’s 3200 meter final for a 9:09.03 victory, Riddle managed a repeat performance in the 1600 with a time of 4:08.42.

“I did my best and just wanted to come out here and try to get as high as I could in the standings,” Riddle said. “I think I’ve had a really good career at Webb City, especially my senior year, anyway.”

In the first two distance events, Stasney finished runner-up yet again to Riddle. His times of 9:15.95 and 4:15.85 were just out of reach from the faster Cardinal runner.

In the 800, however, the defending state champion finally had his moment.

Running a step behind Riddle for the first 700 meters, Stasney made his move in the final 100. The two competitors sprinted alongside one another down the final straightaway, neither one willing to yield to the other.

In the end, Stasney’s lean at the finish edged Riddle by the slimmest of margins at 1:54.11 to 1:54.29.

“I just kept thinking in my head that this is the last time I’m ever going to get to be on the track,” Stasney said. “I didn’t want to have any regrets. It’s the last race of my senior year and I ended the career on a high note. I’m just glad I could walk away with it.”

Camdenton’s Meier sweeps the hurdle events

Camdenton’s Kylie Meier closed out her storied career with a pair of hurdle victories on Saturday.

In the 100 meter hurdles, Meier narrowly edged out teammate Natalie Basham for the victory in 14.89 and 14.92, respectively.

“I knew my start was going to be something I’ve struggled with all season,” Meier said. “So, it was something I was really going to have to push through. I just made sure to get out really strong in front of everyone. It was a dogfight coming through there with lots of swinging arms, because everyone’s gritting all they got to get to the finish line.”

After the race, the Lady Laker senior was quick to credit her teammate for both camaraderie and success.

“It’s just an awesome feeling getting here together,” Meier said. “We knew it would be a dogfight coming into this race, and we push each other every day in practice. I know I wouldn’t be here without her.”

In the 300 intermediate hurdles, Meier found herself in yet another dogfight, this time with Webster Groves sophomore Angelina Arinze, the top qualifier.

“I knew [Arinze] had the advantage because she could see me, and I couldn’t see her,” Meier said. “I tried to catch lane six for the first hurdle. Around the corner, she snuck up on me and passed me, and I knew that if she got too far away, I wasn’t going to be able to catch her. I kicked it in as best I could and fought all the way to the end. It was amazing. That was one of the most fun races you can go through.”

Kurtz wins javelin gold

Camdenton’s Gabriel Kurtz didn’t have to wait long to stake his claim as a state champion.

On his first throw in the final round, the Laker junior struck gold with a toss of 181-06, winning the second state championship for boys in Camdenton’s history.

“My first three in prelims weren’t my best in the 160s,” Kurtz said. “I got right, mentally, on the first throw in finals and sent it out there 180, so that’s what did it for me.”

Despite the big throw coming early, Kurtz was anything but overconfident with the potential for more big throws to come from his competitors.

“I was worried, but I was playing it safe, as well,” Kurtz said. “I know those guys have the ability to throw over 180, for sure, so I wasn’t excited until the very end. I was keeping my cool and playing safe knowing that, at any moment, it just takes one throw for them to outthrow me. So, waiting until the very end was good for me.”