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So, for Strafford senior Blake Alexander Friday was about proving he belonged.
“It’s been a rough couple of years at this event, I got second last year, so I just wanted to prove myself,” said Alexander.
Alexander did that and more Friday at JFK Stadium.
With times of 14.68 and 40.57 respectively, Alexander finished first in the 110M hurdles, and third in the 300M hurdles, putting the area and the state on notice.
“I love it so much. I really wanted to come here and win,” said Alexander. “It is great competition for state, and it makes me a better runner and hurdler.”
Bolivar’s Haryl Starkey also had a chip on his shoulder coming into Friday night’s 400M final.
“I knew I was slotted as the slowest in the heat and at a little bit of a disadvantage, but I didn’t lose focus. I’ve been doing it for a while, and I knew that anything could happen,” said Starkey.
That “anything” turned out to be Starkey surviving the first three turns in first place, before being passed by Lebanon’s Aren Martin on the final straight away.
Martin finished with a time of 50.11, narrowly edging Starkey’s 50.21.
“I’m happy about it,” said Martin. “I really wanted to come out and run a good time, which I did, now I just need to work on improving and getting faster.”
For Starkey, who broke his own school record of 50.33, Friday will hopefully be a springboard moving forward.
“I know now that getting under 50 is definitely attainable, whereas before low 50s was a bit of a stretch,” said Starkey. “I just want to keep improving.”
The 100M open also saw an exciting finish as Parkview’s Chris Hargrove (11.08) held off Jeff City’s Elijah Sherwood (11.18) and Osage’s Robbie Mueller (11.19) to remain unbeaten in the event at JFK Stadium this season.
“I just wanted to come out and work on form. I’ve really been working on maintaining speed through 30 or 40 meters and finishing through the line,” said Hargrove.
For Hillcrest sophomore Rashawn Moore, who finished seventh in the same event with a time of 11.5, the opportunity to run against Hargrove is always welcomed.
“I’m a competitive guy and I want to show that I belong. Running with a guy like that not only pushes me, but it makes him better too,” said Moore. “I want to beat him. I want to keep up with him. I’m only a sophomore, so I know I have time to improve. I just want to continue to get better.”
Fellow Hornet Jonah Hill also enjoyed the competition of Friday’s meet.
“Being in a meet always brings out the best in you, but a meet like this with talent out of ordinary definitely pushes you to another level. That is the best thing about our invitational,” said Hill.
Hill, who competed Friday in the shot put, finished third with a throw of 49’6”. That throw was just two inches away from a personal record, and would have placed him fifth in last year’s Class 3 state championship.
“I was hoping to break 50 feet, which didn’t happen, but a top three finish is something that I’m ecstatic about,” said Hill. “We’ll move on from here and hopefully learn some form by the time we get to state.”