Leading the 2014 state qualifiers for the Tigers is the core group from last year’s team title, headlined by names like Cade Payne, Jared BeShore, and Sam and Ben Bailey.
Also again making the trip to Jefferson City is senior Landon Compton.
Compton won the triple jump with a leap of 42’11.25”. He also was part of Lamar’s first place 4x400 relay (3:28.80) as well as the Tigers’ second place 4x800 relay (8:22.21).
“He’s nearly jumped 45 feet this year,” said Lamar boys head track coach Rodney Baldridge. “There are a lot of strong jumpers in Class 2, but he is right there with them. He will definitely be in the hunt next weekend, as well as being a major part of our relays.”
Also turning heads was Luke Hardman.
The freshman qualified for state in all four of his events, winning the 300 hurdles (40.35) and finishing fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.66). He also competed on Lamar’s first place 4x100 relay team (43.06) and anchored the Tigers’ 4x400 relay.
“It’s been great watching his development throughout the year, coach BeShore has done a great job working with him,’ said Baldridge. “He’s done a great job, and still has a lot of room to improve. As he gets more confident and more technical he will get even better.”
With just one meet standing between the Tigers and another team title in track, Baldridge hopes the gauntlet he tested his team with throughout the season will pay off in Jefferson City.
“One thing we’ve done recently is beef up the schedule,” said Baldridge. “We go to the Kansas Relays, Pitt State Relays, and another tough meets so that when we get to this point of the schedule we aren’t overwhelmed. I think it has paid off and given our kids confidence that they can compete with anyone.”
MV-BT Liberty finishes second
MV-BT/Liberty hasn’t seen a more successful group of athletes than the Class of 2014, and the same holds true in track.
The Eagles qualified a host of athletes for the Class 2 state track meet, led by all-state hurdler Jaelon Acklin.
“Since they were small they’ve always been able to push each other,” said Liberty head coach Darin Acklin. “Coming from a small school, I’m very proud of the way they’ve been able to make each other better and I believe they are very close to realizing their potential. Hopefully next weekend they can take it to another gear.”
The younger Acklin took home first in the 110 hurdles (14.98), second in the 300 hurdles (40.51) and 200 (22.81), while also running the opening leg of Liberty’s third place 4x200 relay (1:32.29).
Although he qualified in all four events, it is no secret that after last year’s runner-up finish to Strafford champ Blake Alexander, Acklin wants a state title in the hurdles.
“He’s consistently improved in the 110 hurdles since coming back from his knee injury, but the 300 has been an adjustment,” said Darin Acklin. “He didn’t run it last year, so it’s new to him and it’s also new to me. We will try to look at what his strengths are and what the strengths of his competitors are and hopefully come up with a plan that will give him the most success. We are going after the 110 and 300 titles.”
Also having a big day for the Eagles was distance runner Daylan Quinn.
The sophomore qualified in three events, finishing first in the 800 (2:00.21) and 1600 (4:25.05) and finished fourth in the 3200 (10:07.23), and leaving the possibility open for multiple state championships.
“Daylan is a phenomenal kid, he wakes up in the morning and runs, does our speed workout, and then if he feels like he needs to get some more work in he will go run again at night,” said Acklin. “Right now it’s kind of a question of have we run him too much, but it looks like it has set up perfectly. He is going to do his mile on Friday and the 800 and 3200 on Saturday. We are thinking that with the races spread out over a two day period it will be to his benefit.”
Seniors James Denton and Adam Niehaus will also make return trips to Jeff City. Denton finished third in the 100 (11.43) and was also on the Eagle’s 4x200 relay. Niehaus, who finished fourth last year at state in the shot put, finished third with a throw of 45’3.5”.
Chapman, Sledge have outstanding day for Spokane
Becky Mitchem knows she hit the coaching lottery in having Kailey Chapman and Becca Sledge.
The seniors validated that on Saturday, qualifying for state in four events each, and leading Spokane to a fourth place sectional finish despite having just three female participants.
“We’ve never had two girls go in four events in the same year,” said Mitchem. “It’s a luxury, kids like that don’t come around very often. At a meet like this for them to have this kind of performance is incredible. It really gets us excited for state, it is really icing on the cake to this season and their careers.”
Chapman won all four of her events, taking gold in the 100 (12.75), 100 hurdles (14.93), 300 hurdles (44.86) and the 200 (26.44). Sledge finished second in the 100 (12.99) and triple jump (34’7.75”) and third in the 200 (27.53) and long jump (16’.75”).
The duo scored 68 of Spokane’s 73 points.
On the boys side just one week from a disappointing district performance senior Corey Ferretti bounced back in a major way, winning a talented 200 field with a 22.56, while also running on the Owls fourth place 4x400 relay (3:33.20).
“He holds the school record in the 100 and 200,” said Spokane boy track coach Jeff Mitchem. “He was disappointed with not qualifying in the 100, but he finished sixth last year in the 200 at state, and we’re excited to see him get back and see what he can do.”
For the Mitchems, who have been coaching at Spokane as a husband and wife duo for decades, taking another group of athletes to Jefferson City is a feeling that doesn’t get old.
“Sometimes people get confused when we say our kids, they don’t know if we are talking about the ones we coach or our biological kids,” said Becky. “There are so many records with this group and there may not be many of them but they are special. We are just tickled with the way they were able to perform today.”
Defending 100 hurdles state champ Shelby Clifton will make a return trip to Jeff City in the 100 and 300 hurdles. Clifton will also run on the Lady Panthers 4x100 relay team. Joining her will be Ashlynn Rogers, Isabelle Carroll, and Katie Wolter. Rogers also qualified 100 and 200, while Wolter won the 800.
The Mountain Grove boys will be represented by Harrison Miller in the 110 and 300 hurdles, Jacob Neuroth in the 400 and Garren Ijames in the 800. The Panthers will also be sending all 4 relays (4x100, 4x200, 4x400, and 4x800) to Jefferson City.
Ash Grove’s Halee Cashioand Katie Skelton will also be back in Jeff City in both the shot put and discus. Cashio and Skelton finished second and third respectively last year in the shot. Ash Grove will also be represented by Logan Allred (200), Elijah Brown (shot put), Devin Dean (110 hurdles), Breanna Nicholson (100 hurdles), Mallory Keith (400), as well as 4x100, 4x200, and 4x800 girls relays.
Lamar’s Kaelyn Sturgell qualified in four events (300 hurdles, 4x100, 4x200 relay, and 4x400) as did her senior teammate Chynna Moore (triple jump, 4x100, 4x200, 4x400).
Sarcoxie sophomore Lath Kisling is headed to state in the high jump and long jump.
Plato junior Lexi McNiel won the 3200, finished second in the 1600, and qualified in the 4x800 relay.
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