“We were very disappointed, but it was definitely a motivating factor for this season,” said Baldridge.
This year, locked and reloaded, the Lamar Tigers came back with vengeance, tallying 79 points to top Cleveland NJROTC (40) and Charleston (34) for the Class 2 state championship.
“We are fortunate to have a well-rounded team,” said Baldridge. “We have a lot of depth and that’s because of how hard our kids work. That depth shows on the football field, we also won state in cross country. Winning becomes contagious, and it is definitely a great feeling to be part of this program.”
Helping to lead the way Saturday was Austin Boice.
After finishing third in the discus on Friday, Boice took first in the shot put on Saturday, giving him 16 points on the weekend.
“I felt a little pressure coming in, but I knew I had the top seed and a little bit of a cushion,” said Boice. “I was more worried about letting those guys down.”
Boice, who was also a member of Lamar’s back-to-back state championship football team, says the feeling of winning a track state title as an individual and team is an equally great high.
“They feel very similar,” said Boice. “Nothing is better than getting with these guys have hoisting a state championship, coming into this year we wanted one in football and we wanted one in track. To actually accomplish that feels great.”
Boice is a rare breed amongst athletes. In addition to his athletic exploits, Boice is also the valedictorian of his class.
“Austin a tremendous young man,” said Baldridge. “State champion in the shot, third in the discus, he’s the valedictorian of his class, and I won’t embarrass him by telling his ACT score, but it’s high. He’s calm, but he’s fiercely competitive and his teammates see that. He leads by example, he’s not a ‘raw-raw’ guy, but he’s definitely a leader.”
Next year Austin will lace up his cleats for the Arkansas Razorbacks and new head coach Brett Bielema. Bielema brings a run heavy offense to Fayetteville, something that suits Boice well.
“I’ve met with the staff and I really like them,” said Boice. “I got a chance to go down and see the spring game and check out the offense. I really think I’ll fit in with the new system.”
Junior sprinter Cade Payne also had a great day for the Tigers.
Payne racked up four medals in scoring 19 points for Lamar.
“I had a great weekend,” said Payne. “Not many guys in our school history have been able to do that so that is definitely a unique experience. I love that I was able to accomplish that.”
Payne credits work put in during the summer for Lamar’s success during the year.
“Our offseason weights program is great,” said Payne. “Coach Bailey does a great job of getting us prepared physically, no matter what sport we are in. It really targets strength and speed training as well.”
In what was the most exciting race of the day for Lamar Drew Buckner, who anchors the Tigers’ 4x800M relay team, ran a 1:56.97 split to boost Lamar (8:09.10) past MV-BT/Liberty (8:10.06) in the final.
“Honestly, I don’t know what was going through my mind,” said Buckner. “I just knew it was the last 200 meters of my high school career and that it was time to go. I gave it all I had, and I am fortunate for the finish.”
Buckner, who is a senior and also a member of last year’s runner-up team, knows that last season played a role in his success.
“This season was really about redemption,” said Buckner. “After losing by just a point last year, there were so many different things we could have done to get that point. So this year our motto was tying up loose ends and I think we did that this year.”
Although Buckner’s dramatic come from behind win was exciting, it was the Lamar team title that meant the most.
“It is truly a great feeling, but it doesn’t compare to the feeling of standing on that podium with the entire team,” said Buckner.
Other results from Saturday…
Osceola’s 4x100M relay team of Trevor Dearn, Josh Keene, Driston Self, and Thane Sommer, all underclassman, took the Class 1 state championship with a time of 45.61.
The MV-BT/Liberty boys finished fourth as a team with 28 points. Junior Jaelon Acklin was the runner-up in the 110M hurdles… 4x800M relay (Daylan Quinn, Trenton Bush, Denton Postlewait, Alex Hernandez) finished second as well… Adam Niehaus finished fourth in the shot put… Denton Postlewait finished seventh and eighth in the 400M and 800M runs respectively… Austin Smotherman finished seventh in the 300M hurdles
Fair Grove’s 4x200M relay team of Landon Kays, Logan Beach, Dalton Robinson and Kyle Cavanaugh finished third. All four runners are under classmen.
Skyline’s Kade Kelly finished second to Austin Boice in the shot put.
Michael Willbanks finished as the runner-up in the high jump for the second year in a row.
Stockton’s girls 4x800M relay team (Josie Pyle, Alexis Smith, Rachel Wheeler, Emilyn Dearman) took second place in Class 2.
Ash Grove’s Devin Dean finished fourth in the 110M hurdles.
Cedric O’Hara of Pierce City finished sixth in the 100M dash and seventh in the 200M dash.
Thomas Chabrecek of Crane finished fourth in the 3200M run.
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