Mt. Vernon’s Heisner, Catholic’s Riley & Fair Grove’s Clark all win multiple golds at Strafford track meet

By Dana Harding (For

Multi-event Heisner making a name for herself

So far in her brief high school career, there’s not much Saide Heisner hasn’t been able to do.

Whether running, jumping or vaulting, the Mt. Vernon sophomore has quickly established herself this season as one of the area’s most versatile athletes.

Heisner currently holds top-ten marks in the Ozarks in the 100 meter hurdles (1st), pole vault (2nd), triple jump (2nd), long jump (8th) and 300 meter hurdles (10th).

At Tuesday’s Strafford Relays, Heisner finished with individual golds in the 100 meter hurdles and pole vault.

Heisner’s hurdle dominance was on full display in the 100. Her 16.11 second winning time was over a full second better than Marshfield’s Alliyah Joiner (17.13) and Morrisville’s Keaton Painter (17.22).

In the pole vault, Heisner captured a second first place medal with a winning vault of 11 feet, 6 inches. This, of course, all taking place in the midst of another running event and a lengthy equipment delay.

While the schedule alterations could test an athlete’s mental focus, Heisner takes it all in stride.

“I’ve been there before,” Heisner said. “At our last meet, we had two broken bars, so it’s just part of it.”

Heisner came close to a third victory in the 300 meter hurdles, finishing second to Hollister’s Taylor Sellers and setting a personal best mark of 49.56 seconds.

Not bad, considering she’s only competed in the event one other time.

“That was actually only my second time ever running the 300 meter hurdles, so I’ve never really practiced it,” Heisner said. “I normally triple jump and long jump, but my coach put me in it because I tweaked my quad a little bit pole vaulting. Next week I’ll be back in my normal events.”

With solid marks in a wide variety of events, it’s no secret Heisner has an eye on a possible college heptathlon career. While the multi-event standout seems taylor-made for the eight-event program, she’s also quick to point out her favorite.

“Definitely pole vault,” Heisner said. “That’s where my heart’s at. God has really set me on this path to tell people about God through track, and it’s really why I do it. I’m just having fun — no matter what happens, I’m having fun.”


Relaxed Riley focused on unfinished business

Like many of his senior teammates and fellow gridiron competitors, Tyson Riley will continue his football career at the next level (Army).

That’s where some of the similarities end.

Unlike many future athletes who use the spring semester to mentally prepare for what is to come, the Springfield Catholic senior has chosen to do the only thing he’s ever known.

Compete and improve.

So far this season, Riley’s times have shown improvement in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles. One of the Ozarks’ best prospects, he owns top marks in both events.

While constant training throughout football and basketball seasons play a role, Riley attributes much of his success to one simple aspect.

Peace of mind.

“I guess I’m a lot more relaxed this year,” Riley said. “I think that’s what it is. I already know where I’m going to college and everything. I guess I’ve gotten stronger through other sports and stuff, but yeah — I think I’m just more relaxed, which lets me run faster in those races.”

During Tuesday’s Strafford Relays, Riley’s relaxation continued to pay dividends with first-place finishes in both hurdle events.

In the 110 meter hurdles, Riley raced away from the starting gun to a 15.81 second finish, besting Clever’s Logan Watson (16.25) and Mt. Vernon’s Wyatt Cordray (16.97).

Later on in the meet, Riley completed the hurdle double, winning the 300 with a time of 40.61 seconds over teammate Matthew Schmitting (43.59) and Spokane’s Jackson Bray (44.41).

While Riley hopes to continue improving on his times this season, the state meet is his primary focus.

“I would love to get down in the 14s in the 110, and I already feel pretty good in the 300,” Riley said. “I take more pride in [the 110], because that’s a tough race — especially for a bigger guy like me. Getting top-three in that and then top-five in the 300 would definitely mark my season.”


Clark notches three individual golds in comeback

Come at the queen, you’d best not miss.

Fair Grove’s Madison Clark reasserted herself in the area sprint wars during Tuesday’s Strafford Relays with first-place finishes in the 100, 200 and 400 meter runs.

After dealing with hamstring issues that shut down her sophomore track season prematurely, Fair Grove’s Madison Clark is on a mission this season to silence her critics.

Both on and off the track.

Never one to yield to mind games, Clark utilized some pre-race bullpen chatter during one of her events as extra motivation.

“It started out with the girl next to me talking about how she was going to beat me,” Clark said. “That just made me want to win even more.”

The junior speedster did just that.

In the 100, Clark’s winning time of 13.19 seconds bested Willow Springs’ Hailey Sigman (13.21) and Hartville’s Grace Culver (13.52).

Clark pulled off the sprint double later in the meet, winning the 200 in 27.25 seconds over School of the Ozarks’ Victoria Smith (27.46) and Culver (27.84).

Clark’s signature event, the 400, can be the most gruelling at times on her nagging hamstring, but she trusts her own offseason conditioning and rehab process.

“It’s stressful just knowing that it can happen even more,” Clark said. “It’s been hurting a lot, but I’ve been pushing through it, going to rehab and working out in the weight room to get stronger.”

After completing the sprint triple with a victory in the 400, Clark has her sights set on the postseason races to come. She also says her coaches and trainers repeatedly tell her to listen to her body and not push things too hard, too fast.

“They just tell me that it’s up me whether or not I push myself as hard as I can,” Clark said. “But I can’t just not go 100 percent. Before every race I just tell myself — either you can run it, or you can be done. I mean, I’ve got to run the 400 … it’s my favorite.”