By Chris Parker (OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Carthage boys and Ozark girls were the big winners at the 2018 COC Large Track Championships in Webb City as they walked away with the team titles.
Carthage goes back-to-back
The Carthage boys have been aiming for back-to-back COC Large titles since last season when they won their first since joining the Conference.
The Tigers were dominant in winning eight of 19 events and scoring in 17 of the 19 events. Carthage finished with 170 points, which was well ahead of runner-up Webb City and its 135-point output. Carl Junction came in third with 111 points.
Leading the way for Carthage was senior Arkell Smith who won the long and triple jumps and finished fourth in the high jump.
His performance was made more impressive by the fact that he is still overcoming an illness.
“I have been a little sick and they didn’t know if they were going to let me jump or not,” Smith said. “I just came out here trying to help the team out. Right before every jump I always think about the team and what I can do to help them out.”
Smith put the exclamation point on the win by stepping onto the track anchoring the 1600-meter relay to a first-place finish.
“Running the 400 is all about having the biggest heart. If you have it in your heart you can run a good time,” Smith said.
The senior has been the anchor of the 1600-meter relay since early last season when he showed his natural ability at the distance in an early-season practice.
“The second Monday of every season we have a 53-second time trial to see how far you can go in 53 seconds. He ran 418 meters, which is our record,” Carthage coach Andy Youngworth said. “I walked up to him and said ‘you really messed up’. He asks ‘what do you mean’ and I said ‘you are anchoring the 4×400 now.”
Fellow senior Corben Pugh wasn’t on that 1600 relay, but did re-break the school record in the 400 with a time of 48.53. He hasn’t been able to race a full meet in a while due to injury but that didn’t stop him from a strong triple that also included a third-place finish in the 100-meter dash and a fifth place finish in the 200.
The jumps were a source of strength for the Tigers as well. In addition to Smith, junior Dylan Pruiett won the high jump and finished third in the long jump and fourth in the triple. Taris Jackson (second in triple jump and seventh in both high and long jump) gave the Tigers 58 points in the jumps alone. That total would have beaten three other teams on Friday.
Clayton Whitehead was a standout in the distance events with a win in the 3200-meter run to go with a runner-up finish in the 1600-meter run. He also ran a leg on Carthage’s champion 3200-meter relay team.
Dillon Lancaster won the 110-meter hurdles to round out the Carthage champions.
All of the above athletes did what they were expected to do on Friday, but Youngworth gives a lot of the credit for the team win to the depth and kids who stepped up with personal bests at the meet.
“I always stress it is not the kids that should score, but the ones that wouldn’t on paper score. We had a kid take eighth in the two-mile (Anderson Ixcol) and a kid take fourth in the discus (Oscar Campa) that wasn’t supposed to score. And another kid that was seventh in the javelin (Johnathan Lancaster),” Youngworth said. “We recovered some points that we lost in some events with those kids that we didn’t expect to score when we came in.”
Depth leads Ozark girls to team championship
The Ozark girls won just two individual gold medals, but their depth by scoring points in 18 of the 19 events with multiple scorers in seven of the 15 events.
“It speaks to our depth,” Ozark girls head coach David Brewer said. “We have some very good individual performers, but the thing that has made us successful all year is the depth we have as a team.”
That depth was on display the most in the relays where the Lady Tigers swept all four of the relays for a big 40 points.
One of the most impressive performances was in the 1600-meter relay where the Lady Tigers were without their top runner Ashley Childers who ran the open 100 instead of the 1600 relay.
Next girl up for Ozark was Kamryn Gilley.
“We asked her (Gilley) to run a 65 (second 400). We knew if she could run a 65 then we could still be in the thick of the 4×400 and she did that,” Brewer said.
They were more than in the thick of it. The Lady Tigers won the race with a time of 4:06.97, which is a season-best for Ozark and the third-fastest time in southwest Missouri this season.
Ozark didn’t get too creative moving athletes around in the meet thanks to the depth Brewer’s team has built this season.
“This year we didn’t do a lot of (moving of events) that we did in the past because we felt like we had the strongest team,” Brewer said. “When you feel like you are the better team you want to make the other team come catch us and Webb City almost did. They made some good adjustments and made it tight at the end.”
Olivia Lyon (pole vault) and Ashley Childers (200-meter dash) were the two individual winners for the Lady Tigers.
Lyon was the most impressive performer of the day as she broke her own school record in the event with a vault of 11’07.
“I think today more than anything I was excited to vault. Other meets I have been nervous, but today I was just excited and I got to choose my next height, so that helped too,” Lyon said.
Those 10 team points would prove crucial as Webb City had taken the lead on the Lady Tigers with just pole vault and the 1600-meter relay left in the meet.
“It means so much (to score 10 team points). My team has been so supportive of me and understanding even though pole vault seems kind of hard to understand. It just means so much that I get to give back to the team in this way,” Lyon said.
Madison Reese was another key performer for the Lady Tigers. She threw a six-foot personal best in the javelin to move all the way up to second place in the event.
Owen stakes claim as area’s fastest sprinter
Destin Owen has had a strong senior season as one of the area’s consistently best sprinters. Last week he had a chance to make a statement at the SBU Invitational, but false started in the final and was disqualified.
“I wanted to come back and show everyone that I could win this,” Owen said.
He proved that and more on Friday.
“I got out of my warmups and got in the blocks and I probably had the best start of my life,” Owen said. “The whole way I was leading and at the finish line I knew I had won. I was so excited.”
Owen broke the tape in a new area-best time of 10.76 ahead of the area’s No. 4 and No. 2 ranked sprinters in Carl Junction’s Weston Wendt and Carthage’s Corben Pugh,
Now Owen will turn his attention to competing at the state level.
“I just want to get on the podium (at state). That is my goal. I know I am going to have to work very hard, but I am up for the challenge,” Owen said.
Other notable boys performances
– Willard’s Nate Swadley had a big day by breaking the 60-foot barrier to win the shot put along with a championship in the discus and a third-place javelin finish.
– It was a dominant throwing day for Willard with Kaitlyn Burson winning both the shot and discus on the girls’ side.
– James Morgan had a strong freshman COC Large meet for Webb City as he was the only freshman boy to win an individual gold with his 300-meter hurdles championship.
– Branson’s Reagan Ulrich won the pole vault with a leap of 15’00.
– Republic’s Jasmyn Douglas was the lone freshman to win individual gold on the girls’ side with a championship in the 400. Teammate Avy Powell-qualo also won for the Tigers in the high jump.
– Webb City’s Briar Short beat Branson’s Ryan Still by one foot in the javelin for the championship.
– Short’s teammate Ryan Riddle continued his dominant senior season with a 4:18.72 and 1:57.11 1600-800 double for two golds.
– Carl Junction senior Weston Wendt dipped under 22 seconds in the 200-meter dash while running legs on the champion 400 & 800-meter relay squads.
– The Webb City girls had three individual winners in Destiny Seeley (100), Camilla Roy (1600 & 800) and Kaylee Cristy (300 Hurdles).
– Carthage (Alexa Boyle – Javelin & Sierrah Negrette long jump) and Carl Junction (Lexi Miller – 100 hurdles & Kaitlynn Franks – 3200) each had two individual winners.
– Lisette Perez was the lone Nixa athlete for the boys or girls to win a championship as she claimed the triple jump gold medal.