By Brock Sisney (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
WEBB CITY — Arguably the best weather of the year 2021 so far greeted the competing male and female athletes Friday at the Webb City Invitational.
This has been a track season, after all, coming off no season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling all spring sports competition and there’s been a mixture of washouts and otherwise below-par weather. For example, Joplin had a high temperature of 52 on the day of their invitational meet on Apr. 16.
The performances Friday were even better than the weather.
On the boys side, host Webb City won the team title with 177.5 points overall, followed by Joplin at 131, Willard 129, Jefferson City 81, Neosho 64, East Newton 52, Glendale 41.5, Carl Junction 40, McDonald County 11, and Thomas Jefferson 4.
Meanwhile, the Jefferson City girls brought home some team hardware after their 165 points Friday night earned them first place. Webb City finished second with 131, Carl Junction third with 119, Neosho fourth with 86.5, Glendale fifth with 67.5, Joplin sixth with 63.5, Willard seventh with 34, East Newton eighth with 17, McDonald County ninth with 14.5, and Thomas Jefferson tenth with 7.
Carl Junction’s Montez finds her own hurdles groove
Carl Junction junior Ally Montez brought home a pair of titles Friday in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles with times of 15.17 and 46.34 seconds, respectively.
“I’ve been doing hurdles since I was about 12 years old,” Montez said only a couple minutes after her victory in the 300 hurdles. “Probably the biggest challenge overall is the mental state that you have and just having to own it to get through it. A lot of conditioning. Yeah, it requires quite a bit.
“It (conditioning) depends on whether we have a meet or not or if it’s a rest day or a hard day. Usually, on a hard day, it would probably mean six 100s and those can get pretty brutal. Then, like right before a meet, probably just easy form and working on technique. Just making sure to get it all down.”
Montez didn’t have far to look for inspiration to become a hurdler.
“Honestly, I’ve always loved hurdles,” Montez said. “My mom was a high-level collegiate athlete and she’s probably the main reason I started doing hurdles and just getting the passion for it. I feel it’s a part of me, it’s just built into me and generally, I just love it so much.”
Montez’s mother, Tina Keller Montez, ran track for NCAA Division II Missouri Southern in Joplin from 1995 through 1998 and she qualified for the NCAA-II outdoor meet in three events — 100 hurdles, 400 hurdles, and the 4×100 relay. She finished third in both the 400 hurdles and the relay. Carl Junction alumna Keller set multiple school records during her time at Southern and she was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011, as well as the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2020.
The younger Montez seems well on her way to her own standout career.
“I think I am on my way,” Montez said of reaching her goals for the season. “Slowly but surely getting there. Hopefully, by the end of this year, I can be around my goals in the 100 and the 300. I’m excited.”
Webb City’s Berry continues success in her second sport
Webb City senior Haidyn Berry is best known for her excellence on the softball field — during her senior season, she helped lead the Lady Cardinals to a second-place finish in Class 4, broke the school’s home run record, and pitched a no-hitter in the district title game. Berry has signed with NCAA-II Central Missouri to continue her academic and softball career.
Berry also throws the javelin for the Lady Cardinals and she finished second Friday at her final home meet with a toss of 36.3 meters. Berry’s teammate, freshman Dawsyn Decker, won with a personal best throw of 36.84.
“Coming out and performing at the highest level is the biggest challenge,” Berry said. “I want to be a state champion again and losing a season last year kinda put a toll on us, but I think we’re doing a pretty good job of reacting to the consequences of COVID.
“During quarantine, I’d actually come out and bring my jav. Softball on the weekends and then during the week it was javelin time. (Losing our season) was a good eye opener for us to be grateful for what we have.”
Berry finished eighth in Class 4 in the javelin her sophomore year.
“It’s my getaway sport,” Berry said. “It’s something that I can get away from softball a bit and let my body relax. I love it a lot, but I also love playing softball a lot. It’s a good difference between both sports.
“You see a lot of softball players throw javelin, because it’s the same kind of arm motion, but it’s a good sport to look into and try. It’s gone little-by-little. In the end, it will be OK, it will all work out and end on a good note, one last hurrah.”
Neosho’s Cole loves distance race competition
Neosho junior distance runner Kaden Cole won the 1600 in 4:24.42 and finished second in the 3200 in 9:47.33 on Friday, and came out ahead in a pair of dramatic go-for-it-all sprints to the finish line against Webb City’s Roman Borboa in the 1600 and Willard’s Thomas Shuster in the 3200.
Cole edged his fellow juniors by .43 in the 1600 and .08 in the 3200.
“The competitive aspect of it 100 percent,” Cole said of what he enjoys most about competing in distance races. “Just being out here to compete against my friends and family, there’s nothing else like it.”
Runners have described the finish of a race as simultaneously both the best and worst feelings ever.
“That is true,” Cole said. “Being done with the race is one thing, but if you don’t finish where you hope to finish, it’s a mood killer.”
Cole said that he averages 40-50 miles running per week and that he throws a couple hard-speed work days into his training regimen. He called it “a lot of pavement pounding.”
Joplin’s Fowler ranks among nation’s best in triple jump
Continuing his excellent season, Joplin junior Donovyn Fowler brought home a pair of titles in the long and the triple jump with marks of 6.93 and 15.06 meters, respectively. School record holder Fowler now owns the state-leading mark in the triple.
Willard senior Marshall Swadley put away titles in the discus and shot put, throwing the former implement 47.72 meters and the latter implement 18.41. Swadley’s shot put throw improved on his state-best mark.
Carl Junction senior Reece Bonjour set a school record with his winning throw of 45.15 meters or 148.12 feet.
Webb City — all seniors — won the following events: Luke Brumit cleared 1.92 meters in the high jump, Pryce Mason placed first in the pole vault at 4.29 meters, and Gustavo Sabbag won the 110 hurdles in 16.31 and Caleb Cook won the 300 hurdles in 41.27. The Cardinals also racked up several medalists en route to their overall team title.
Joplin sophomore Hobbs Campbell won the 3200 in 9:40.08 and East Newton junior Kelton Sorrell claimed first in the 800 in 1:57.81. In the sprints, Willard senior Elijah Aye won the 200 in 22.30.
Joplin won titles in the 4×100 (43.99) and the 4×800 (8:11.05), East Newton closed out the evening with a win in the 4×400 (3:31.62), and Willard won the 4×200 (1:31.26).
On the girls side, Webb City junior Ripley Shanks won the pole vault at 2.88 meters, Willard senior Mackenzie Davis won the discus at 34.13 meters, and Webb City senior Emily Beres won the shot at 12.29 meters after taking second in the discus.
Carl Junction senior Shiloh Sluder won the 100 in 12.55 and the 200 in 25.35, sophomore Sadie Burchett won the 1600 in 5:56.63, and the Lady Bulldogs also won the 4×100 in 49.44, adding plenty of gold on top of Montez’s two hurdle titles.
Webb City junior Riley Hawkins won the 800 in 2:29.93 and sophomore Abi Street won the last girls individual event with a time of 11:54.60 in the 3200.