By Amanda Perkins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The two final field events of the day would decide the Ozark Conference champions, and the Kickapoo Lady Chiefs emerged with a one-point victory, while the Waynesville boys claimed a half-point win.
Kickapoo’s final points came as Kaylee Corbin and Katelyn Clark finished up the javelin and netted third and fifth place finishes, respectively (106-05, 98-00) to bring the Lady Chiefs to 140.0 points. Rolla took second with 139.0 after going back and forth with Kickapoo and West Plains all day, and the Lady Zizzers secured third place with 102.0 points.
Anthony Bledsoe (43-09.50) and Jaylen Andrews (41-08.50) made their final event count. Bledsoe took first and Andrews fourth for 15 points for Waynesville, securing their 122.5 victory. West Plains came in second with 122.0 points, and Camdenton placed third (103.0).
Kickapoo entered the day hoping to overcome adversity and made it happen with a mix of major players and unsung heroes.
“We knew it would be close going in,” said Kickapoo head coach Jeremy Goddard. “We had some people banged up, but were hoping they could perform. We knew it would be tight, watching the scores all day.”
Goddard said some things fell Kickapoo’s way, such as going one-two in the triple jump, but others didn’t.
“One of our best sprinters got off the bus hurting and couldn’t run,” he said.
The team’s seeding in the 4×200 dropped from first to fourth, and they lost a second seed in the 100 and third seed in the 200.
“We had some places where we knew we had to make up and just tooth and nail and just scratching it out,” said Goddard. “It doesn’t really ever come down to one event, but in the final event of the evening, (Kaylee Corbin) had a 15 foot PR in her final throw of the six. So with all the other efforts, with every point that we scratched out and got a seventh here and a fourth here and a third there, it worked out.”
Tayte Kozlowski was a major contributor for Kickapoo, taking first in triple jump (34-02.00) for 10 points, first in long jump for 10 points (17-04.00), and second in 200 meter dash for 8 points (26.36).
“I was really excited I got the chance to run the 200 today,” she said. “I’ve been nursing a sprained ankle since our last meet at SBU, so my coach and I agreed that we should limit the events I was in.”
Coach Goddard noted Kozlowski “could hardly jump two days ago, but she’s a tough kid and came out and did all that.”
“Starting the meet with triple jump was a real blow to the ankle,” said Kozlowski, “but I had jumped far enough in prelims that it allowed me to pass on my last three jumps and still maintain first place. I wasn’t as fortunate in the long jump, having scratched my first couple of jumps. I needed the last few opportunities to land a winning jump.”
Kelcey Brown was also injured, but still managed to compete in four events.
Molly Hackenwerth placed second in triple jump (33-00.00). Hannah Wahlquist took third in high jump (5-00.00) as a freshman and also ran 100 meter hurdles for the second time all year and placed. Sally Cybulski was second in the two-mile run after a strong mile.
“She hasn’t done two events all year, but this was a meet we needed her to compete,” said Coach Goddard.
Tara Randol picked up two points in the same event.
The 4×400 team added points in third place, and the throwers came up clutch.
“We went one and two in the disc and one and four in the shot,” said Goddard. “Those are both improvements over where we were seeded and helped seal the deal.”
Kennedy Aurentz placed first in discus (118-05) and first in shot put (42-05.75); Ellie Facklam, second in discus (107-00), and Isabella Williams, fourth in shot put (33-05.75).
Rolla picked up big points with first place finishes in the 100 meter dash (Olivia Olusanya, 12.99), 4×200 meter relay (Tahrea Facen, Reagan Reedy, Bayli Graydon, Olivia Olusanya, 1:48:80), 1600 meter run (Emma Puetz, 5:17.44) and first in the 800 meter run (Emma Puetz), 400 meter dash (Olivia Holmes), and the 4×400 meter relays (Katelyn Campbell, Tahrea Facen, Emma Puetz, Olivia Holmes). Abby Hobbs took second in pole vault (9-00.00), Tahrea Facen second in the 400 meter dash, and second in the 4×800 meter relay.
“It’s pressure before the meet, but afterward it feels great when you actually perform well,” said Rolla’s Olivia Holmes. “It’s a good meet to get PRs, and that’s what we’ve done today.”
The West Plains girls stayed in contention with a first place finish in the 4×800 (Mia Harris, Jayna Gunter, Megan Donahue, and Jordan Kantola ran a 9:52.28 relay), and Jayna Gunter’s first place in the 3200 meter run. Brayden Kantola also placed in the 3200 (third), while Mia Harris took second and Kaylee Hatley took third in the 1600 meter run.
“We knew coming in to the conference meet, it was going to be a battle on the boys side and were just hoping to have a shot,” said Waynesville head coach Mike Rawlings. “We talk to our kids all the time about the importance of every point and giving maximum effort. Today, to win by half a point, it took every member of the team.”
Rawlings said his team was mostly healthy to start the day, so they were counting on second entries in the events to pick up points in seventh and eighth places.
“We did that in five events today,” he said. “It was an easy sell, as we just came off getting third at SBU by one point in the last event of the day.”
Kaiden Tripp had a standout performance, winning the 100 (11.18), placing third in the 200 (22.71) and anchoring the 4×1 and 4×2. “All four were season bests,” said Rawlings.
Another season best: Cameron Cavalier’s second in the 200 (22.63). Cavalier and Tripp combined with Eric Richardson and Desmond Dawkins for the 4×200 (1:31.00) and a second place finish, and the 4×100 for another second (43.39).
Jared Hyatt took first place in the high jump with a 6-00.00 finish.
“Anthony Bledsoe won the triple jump as the meet was winding down and we knew how close things were,” said Coach Rawlings. Bledsoe recorded a 43-09.50 jump, and Jaylen Andrews added fourth place points with a 41-08.50 triple jump.
Other contributors to the win included Eric Richardson, fourth place in the 100 meter dash (11.38); Victor Daos, third in the 800 meter run; Danyl McCullough, third in long jump (19-11.50); third place in 4×400 (Danyl McCullough, Victor Daos, Jaylen Andrews, Earzabre Gibson); and Timothy Brech, fourth in javelin (140-03).
West Plains took first in the 4×800 with Wesley Laughary, Zachary Finley, Riley Simpson, and Colby Soulier. Colby Sanders and Zachary Finley placed first and second, respectively, in the 1600 meter run, and Sanders took first in the 800 while Caleb Boys placed second. The team grabbed 15 points in the 3200 meter run thanks to Boys’ first place and Sanders’ fourth.
The Zizzers also picked up points in the pole vault, with Chaney Martin (13-06.00) for first and Nick Johnson (12-00.00) for fourth.
Camdenton’s key contributors included Parker Wormek for first place in the 110 meter hurdles(15.12); Trenton Flug, first in javelin (162-10); Gabriel Kurtz, first in long jump (21-06.50); and second and third in pole vault for Dane Lapine and Kurtz (13-00.00, 12-06.00).