By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. – Next week’s Class 1 track and field state championship will be a family affair for the Arnold clan.
The Blue Eye family – and freshman twins Riley and Avery and senior Taylor – will be plenty busy in Jefferson City.
The trio helped the Bulldogs to five wins in Saturday’s Class 1 Sectional 2 meet at Carl Junction and a first-place finish in the team standings.
“It’s awesome,” said Riley Arnold. “Since Taylor already graduated, this one last meet together is going to be really special.”
Riley picked up wins in all four of her events on Saturday, including two relays. She ran the third leg on the 4×800-meter relay that beat Sparta and the third leg on the 4×400 relay that finished the day by beating School of the Ozarks. Taylor, Avery and freshman Braylynn Siercks also ran on the 4×800, while Taylor, Avery and senior Mackenzie Hobbs joined her on the 4×400.
“It was pretty amazing,” Riley said. “A lot of events today but it was awesome.”
Her appearance in the 4×400 marked the first time she’s run the event all season. She filled in for junior Madison Box, who was nursing a sore leg.
“I was just trying to help them get to a first-place finish,” Riley said.
She also won the open 1,600 and 3,200.
With the top four finishers in each event qualifying for state, the Blue Eye girls came up empty in field events but will be well-represented on the track.
The school’s 4×200 and 4×100 relays won those events; Avery Arnold placed second in the 1600 and both Avery and
Taylor qualified in the 800. Hobbs also placed third in the 400 and freshman Kyla Warren was third in the 200.
The Bulldog girls totaled 112 points, beating Greenwood by nearly 50.
Jasper’s Hale, Vienna’s Weathers duke it out in throwing events
Jasper senior William Hale was a fifth-place finisher in last year’s state discus competition, and he entered Saturday’s sectional as the top seed in the discus and the fourth seed in the shot put.
When the day was over, he was the shot put champion.
Hale threw 46–2.75 in the shot put, a personal record by a quarter of an inch, and was more than three feet better than Vienna junior Gavin Weathers.
Hours later in the discus, Weathers returned the favor and threw 154–08 to win the competition by two feet. Hale finished second.
“I could do a lot better in discus,” Hale said. “What got my furthest mark today was a front.”
Hale has been limited after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL last fall, and was unable to start spinning until last week at the district.
“I’m still trying to get my feet underneath me,” he said. “Fronts are probably going to carry me to state and they did today.
“I think this coming week I’m going to have a lot of practice,” Hale said. “I might spin so I can get him next week at state.”
After Hale’s final throw came up short, he and Weathers met for a quick handshake.
“I was amazed that he did it standing,” Weathers said. “I would have congratulated him either way. Granted, I would have been a little more unhappy but I would have been happy for him.”
Despite the win in the discus, Weathers said he’s got more distance in him.
“Not my best day,” he said. “Ever since districts I’ve had a problem with release and that showed today but my first throw I was amazed by but it was out of bounds so it was a scratch.”
He estimated it traveled at least 160 feet.
Greenwood’s Wilson will be a contender again at state
Greenwood senior Danielle Wilson entered Saturday with the top seed in all four of her events: the long jump, 100-meter dash, 200 and 400.
When the day was done, she had four first-place finishes and plenty of momentum heading into state, where she fourth in the 400, fifth in the long jump, sixth in the 200 and eighth in the 100 last year.
“I was ranked first but I knew it was going to be hard regardless of what I did,” she said. “I knew the 100 was really stacked and the long jump was really stacked. There were some really good girls in there.”
Wilson’s winning distance of 17–02.5 in the long jump was a season’s best, and she two-thousandths of a second from cracking the minute mark in the 400.
“I really want to do well at state this year because last year I was sick, it was horrid,” she said. “I was really sick.”
While she obviously hopes to bring home gold in all four events, she said a win in the 200 would be special.
“That’s my favorite event,” she said. “And long jump depending on how I jump.”
Chadwick’s Evan Smith fends off rivals
A year ago Chadwick senior Evan Smith was the state champion in the 1600, and he added All-State performances in the 3200 and 800 with Weaubleau’s Chase Ratliff hot on his tail.
Last fall, Ratliff was the cross country state champion with Smith finishing sixth.
Smith got the better of Ratliff on the track Saturday, and also fended off Titus Thompson of School of the Ozarks, who proved a worthy competitor.
Smith won all three events on Saturday and Thompson finished second in all three. Ratliff was third in the 800, fourth in the 1600 and fifth in the 3200.