By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZ0ne.com)
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. – With three events remaining, the public address announcer at Bulldog Stadium provided an update on the district standings.
The Webb City girls, projected to win on paper, trailed Carl Junction by two points.
The Cardinals didn’t trail for long.
Webb City sophomore Jaydee Duda placed seventh in the 200-meter dash and scored two points, then freshman Riley Hawkins and junior Abigail Pendergraft combined for 14 points in the 3200-meter run and the Cardinals went on to claim both boys and girls team championships Saturday in Carl Junction.
“I’m really proud of the kids for the way we worked today,” Webb City coach Dustin Miller said. “We faced some adversity off and on throughout the day. With 19 events you’re never going to have a perfect meet but we were able to focus and do our best. Focus on what we can control.”
The girls 4×100 relay had a bad exchange and didn’t qualify as Miller had hoped. The team wanted to qualify three pole vaulters for the sectional and only got two.
“We had a lot of ups and downs but for the most part it was just a good team meet,” Miller said.
The Webb City boys scored 122 points. Bolivar scored 106 and finished second.
The Webb City girls, meanwhile, finished with 126 points to beat Carl Junction by seven.
In the field events, Webb City sophomore Mekhi Garrard won both the long jump and triple jump. Those were the only first-place finishes for the boys, who had a total of 14 top-four finishes to earn spots in next week’s sectional meet. Five of those came in field events and nine on the track.
Miller said boys highlights were sophomore Joseph Dawson placing second in the 1600 and giving himself a chance to advance out of the sectional next week, sophomore Pryce Mason clearing 14–3 in the pole vault and sophomore James Morgan improving his time in the 110 hurdles by six-tenths of a second. Mason and Morgan both finished second.
The Webb City girls earned 13 entries for the sectional and had three first-place finishes. Miller cited the performances of senior Allary Liberatore (third in long jump, second in triple and high), juniors Karson Culber and Octavia Duncan, who each qualified in the discus, and javelin throwers sophomore Haidyn Berry and senior Alexandra Vanzant, who both qualified.
“On paper we were supposed to win on both sides so it’s not really a surprise,” Miller said. “We both scored a little bit under what we were supposed to. Guys were six under, girls were five under. We knew what we were ranked and we focused on what we can control. We knew the Bolivar boys had a great meet and picked up points in several areas but we just focused on what we can control and we came out on top.”
The Bolivar boys picked up three wins on the track, in both hurdle events with junior Blade Hancock, and in the 4×800 with junior Dylan Rowell, sophomore Hunter Davis, sophomore Brett Pollock and senior Tracen McKinney.
The Liberators earned six other sectional qualifications. They were the only other team to score more than 100 points. Willard was a distant third with 77.
The Carl Junction girls had wins in the 4×400, 800, 4×200, 100 hurdles and high jump. The Bolivar girls were right behind them with 113.50 points, trailing by just 5.5. The Liberators only won the 4×800 relay but had three sectional qualifiers in field events and 11 total qualifiers on the track.