By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Area athletes posted dozens and dozens of all-state finishes in the Class 3 track and field championships Saturday afternoon at Mizzou’s Walton Stadium in Columbia.
East Newton takes gold in 4×800 relay
Kelton Sorrell and his East Newton teammates didn’t lack motivators last offseason.
As the younger brother of former East Newton distance runners Emily and Kinsey Sorrell, Kelton Sorrell heard plenty of friendly taunts.
Such as: When were the boys going to win a gold medal like the girls?
After all, Emily and Kinsey were members of gold medal-winning distance relay teams at East Newton.
“We heard it every day in the summer during training,” Kelton said.
Now, Kelton and his Patriot teammates have their gold medal, too.
East Newton began Saturday’s championship events with a first-place finish in the 4×800-meter relay. The Patriots clocked in at 8:13.23, setting a personal record by about one second.
The Patriots – comprised of Sorrell, sophomore Camden Lazure, junior Jacob Bennion and freshman Gabe Bergen – entered the event as the top seed.
“We weren’t cocky, but we were confident,” said Lazure, who ran a 2:03.09 leg.
Bergen brought the victory home with a 2:03.06 anchor leg. He passed the second-place finisher over the final 125 meters.
“I knew my team was counting on me and I didn’t want to be the one (to prevent) a victory,” Bergen said. “I knew I had it in me to pass him. He was dying. I knew I just had to go get him, so I ran out to his side and kept going and going and going until I got to the finish line.
“It was such a great moment knowing I was able to finish it off with this group. If I hadn’t had them running their (legs) before me how they did, I wouldn’t have even been close to him.”
Willow Springs’ Miller closes out high school career with silver medal
As a state qualifier her freshman year, Willow Springs’ Sydney Miller felt overwhelmed.
“I never thought I’d even come close to finishing second,” Miller said.
Fast-forward three years. Miller is a four-time state qualifier and – thanks to a 36’5.5” leap on Saturday – a silver medalist in the triple jump.
Not bad for a standout softball pitcher. Miller also led Willow Springs to three district softball titles during her four-year varsity career.
“It’s awesome,” Miller said. “I have multiple softball records as well, but this track (medal) is pretty special.”
Miller reached 36’5.5” on the final jump of her high school career. The mark is a personal best and new school record at Willow Springs.
“It’s really nice for Willow,” Miller said. “I love that school and I’m really glad I get to represent them up here.”
Afterwards, Miller hugged her coach, Chris Waggoner.
“He’s been coaching me triple jump all four years,” Miller said. “We’re really happy.”
Catholic’s Riley and Squibb all-state in two events
Wallace Squibb outscored Tyson Riley on Saturday. He wasn’t shy about letting Springfield Catholic’s starting quarterback know about it.
“(Wallace) likes to pick at me a little bit because I’ve been beating him all year in points,” Riley said. “He comes out here (today) and gets fourth (place) and third (place) and thinks he can talk to me?
“But yeah, Wallace did really good out here today.”
Squibb placed fourth in the discus (147’11”) and third in the javelin (167’03”).
The multisport athlete will continue his football and academic career at Ivy League school Cornell next fall.
“It’s been a great four years, playing football, basketball and track,” Squibb said. “Getting all-state in two events feels great, but I’m ready for the summer. It’s been a long, long (school) year.”
Riley had all-state finishes in the hurdles. He placed sixth in the 110 hurdles (15.19) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (39.84).
“I came into this thinking, ‘If I can get two all-state medals, that would be a good season for me,’” Riley said.
Riley’s headed to West Point and will play football for Army.
For the first time in a while, he won’t be playing any other sports.
“I’ve been thinking about that,” Riley said. “Like, am I going to have free time in the spring? Do I get to go on spring break? That’ll be a good thing, being a one-sport athlete, and it might take the load off a little bit.
“But I’m going to Army, so I don’t know how much free time they’ll let us have. Probably not much.”
Mt. Vernon’s Heisner battles through ankle pain for three all-state finishes
Sadie Heisner made it through Saturday without further injuries to her aching ankles, and for her, that’s worthy of a medal itself.
But just in case MSHSAA won’t grant one for that, she’s bringing home three all-state medals, too.
The Mt. Vernon sophomore placed fourth in the pole vault (11’), sixth in the 100 hurdles (15.16) and seventh in the triple jump (35’4.75”). She also finished 10th in the long jump.
Heisner said she’s felt pain in both ankles during the postseason stretch. She sprained her right ankle in sectionals, and aggravated an injury to her left (jumping) ankle during districts.
“I knew my ankles would be hurting more today,” Heisner said. “But you have to give all the glory to God for keeping me… not dying. And fairly healthy.”
With two years left, Heisner is taking aim at the pole vault.
She failed to reach her goal of 12-foot on Saturday. By next year, Heisner said she wants to clear 12’9”.
Mtn. Grove freshman shines in state debut
Macey Penner may have felt nervous, but her performance didn’t show it.
The Mountain Grove freshman tallied a pair of fourth-place finishes in the mile events. She clocked 12:11.39 in the 3200 (including a 1:26.78 final leg) and 5:25.96 in the 1600.
“I was expecting my times to be a little bit faster, but the heat and the wind was tough,” Penner said.
Penner credited her training partners and coach for the achievements.
“I have teammates in practice – Luke Fry and Noah McCallister, and my coach – they push me,” Penner said. “Shout out to them, too.”
Warsaw’s Love all-state in four events
When Parker Love wasn’t running, he was jumping.
When he wasn’t jumping, he was running.
And in between, he was probably headed to go do one or the other.
The Warsaw junior capped a busy day with four all-state finishes, two in sprints and two in jumps.
“It’s been a dream,” Love said. “This is what I’ve wanted to do for the past couple of years. I’ve worked so hard to get here, and now I’m finally where I want to be.
“(Doing) four events in one day is hard, but it’s doable.”
Love’s best performance came in the 100-meter dash, where he crossed the finish line in 11.107 seconds. Love also placed fourth in the long jump (22’0.25”).
The first-time state qualifier jumped 44 feet in the triple jump (fifth place) and took seventh in the 200-meter dash (22.54).
“I have so much more room and potential to where I can grow,” Love said. “I can be (better) if I just keep working and working.”
Going forward, Love has extra confidence going into his senior season.
“Now, I know I can race with these people,” Love said. “I know I can hang with them. I know I can beat them. (Qualifying in four events) lets you know you’re here for a reason.”