By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Four Springfield-area athletes led the way for local Class 5 competition Saturday at the state track and field championships.
Roeder caps career with first gold
As Elaina Roeder said, it couldn’t have ended any other way.
The Central High School pole vaulter placed seventh as a freshman, sixth as a sophomore and fourth as a junior.
As a senior, she’s going out on top.
The four-time all-state performer vaulted 12’7” to win the Class 5 girls’ event.
“Now, it feels like my high school career is complete,” Roeder said. “This is the missing piece. I couldn’t be happier.”
As a freshman, Roeder watched Nicole Kallenberger of Lee’s Summit West clear 12’10.50”. The mark still stands as the Class 5 record.
“I thought that was crazy high. I was jumping like 10’6”,” Roeder said. “It’s crazy that I’m able to attempt that now.”
Roeder was the last athlete competing on Saturday.
“The wait was worth it,” she said.
Roeder cleared 12’7” on her first attempt, besting her previous personal record (12’6”) by one inch. She took three tries at 12’10.75”, which would have surpassed Kallenberger’s Class 5 record.
Roeder credits her training regimen for her steady, four-year improvement
“My junior and senior year, I really put the effort into strength training and the weight room,” Roeder said. “I’d get up at 6 a.m. and lift.
“That’s the difference. That’s what got me here.”
Roeder’s headed to Wake Forest in the fall. Before that, she’ll compete at two summer meets – the Great Southwest Classic in New Mexico (May 31-June 2) and the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina (June 15-17).
Nixa’s Procell takes down 40-year school record
He didn’t know it at the time, but Blake Procell re-wrote the Nixa High School track and field record book on Saturday.
The junior posted a time of 1:55.88 in the 800m run. He broke the previous school record of 1:55.9 set in 1975. It was Nixa’s longest-standing school record.
“That’s a record I want to have,” Procell said after the race, unaware that he had just eclipsed the mark.
Procell finished fourth in the event. The winner, Kirkwood sophomore Martin Strong, crossed the finish line at 1:53.69. The second-place and third-place finishers went 1:55.69 and 1:55.60.
“Fourth place is something I’m glad to have in a race this loaded,” Procell said.
Procell ran strong amid humid and very hot conditions. He switched up his normal pre-race routine.
“(The heat) made me feel sluggish,” Procell said. “It made me barely want to warm up. I knew it’d be a very big mental battle of whether I wanted it or not – and that’s how I took the race.”
Procell started with a 55.992 split and went 59.888 in his second lap.
“I know this race,” Procell said. “Everyone starts out hard. I just kept my composure, kept my balance and stayed with the pack. I made my move when I had to.”
He finished second in the event last year (1:56.39).
“Last year, I got boxed in the first lap,” Procell said. “I played it smarter this year.”
Kickapoo’s Kozlowski 2nd in triple jump
In most years, a mark of 38’03.75” in girls’ triple jump wins you a gold medal.
This wasn’t most years. This was Ritenour senior Diamond Riley leaving her mark on the event.
Riley set the Missouri all-Class record with a jump of 40’10”. Riley also won the event last year (39’6.50”).
“I’m not as sad about it. She deserved to win,” said Kickapoo sophomore Tayte Kozlowski, who went for 38’03.75”. “It was a really far jump. She didn’t beat me by a little, she beat me by a lot.”
Last month, Kozlowski and Riley both competed at the KU Relays. Riley won the triple jump with a 40’07.50” performance. She’s PR’d at 41 feet this season.
“I wasn’t surprised that she went (40’10”) today,” Kozlowski said.
Kozlowksi was still pleased with second.
“I’m very happy with how I did,” she said.
Kozlowski’s already shown tremendous versatility with two years ahead of her. She’s also done sprint relays, long jump, the 400 and javelin for Kickapoo.
Last year, she competed at state in the 400 and as a member of Kickapoo’s all-freshmen 4×400 relay team. She’s found her calling in a new event: jumps.
“I never really looked at myself as (a state medalist),” Kozlowski said. “I watched last year and saw the people on the podium and I was like, ‘Holy cow. They’re really strong and their build is amazing.’ They looked like they could be college athletes. I just never imagined myself up there.”
Republic’s Owen finishes 5th in 100m dash
As a sophomore, Skyler Owen marveled at the speed and athleticism of Jerney Jones. Jones was a football and track standout at Republic High School who now plays for the Mizzou football team.
But after taking fifth (10.83) in the 100m dash, Owen suggested a possible race-off with the speedy Jones.
“I always wanted to beat him, but I never could,” Owen said. “This weekend, I think I could beat him if he was out there.”
Owen posted a blazing 10.74 in Friday’s prelims, the second-best time of all performers.
Another 10.74 would’ve been good enough for gold on Saturday. Rock Bridge junior Nathan Peat (10.75) won the event.
“I didn’t have as great of a start as I did Friday,” Owen said. “I still got 5th place and got on the podium. That’s all I really wanted.”
Wiley places top 5 in 100, 300 hurdles
Two years, four all-state finishes in the hurdles for Kickapoo sophomore Jaden Wiley.
Wiley finished 5th in the 100 hurdles (14.77) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (44.22).
Last year, Wiley won the 300 hurdles as a freshman.
“There were a lot of good (hurdlers) out here this year,” Wiley said. “My finish could’ve been stronger, but I didn’t really have anything left in me honestly.”
Wiley looks to build on her track prowess for 2019.
“Come back, be back here,” Wiley said of her goals for the next two years. “Hopefully get recruited and be able to go to college for something in track.”