By Brock Sisney (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
CARTHAGE — In his fourth and final jump of the day Saturday in the triple jump, Joplin junior Donovyn Fowler saved his best for last and missed 50 feet by one-half inch.
In doing so, Fowler broke his own school record by 7.5 inches and his sectional title in the triple highlighted a day in which he qualified for the Class 5 state track meet next week in four events — the long jump, the 4×100, and the 200-meter dash in addition to the triple.
Fowler’s previous best in the triple ranked him first in the state and sixth nationally among high school athletes. His new longest distance places him fifth, behind four athletes who have all cleared 50 feet with their respective jumps.
“It was a real disappointment,” Fowler said. “If I would have just held my feet up a little bit longer, I could have possibly got over that 50 mark. State, that’s the time to make my point, to get that 50 right there. I’m peaking at just the right time.
“The biggest challenge is trying to get to that 50 mark. Trying to push myself, trying to make myself every day get better.”
Fowler began competing in the triple his eighth grade year of track and the long his summer year of eighth grade with his AAU track team.
“I just like how fun it is,” Fowler said. “All the community coming together, just the camaraderie between everyone, laughing, making jokes. At the end of the day, it’s really all about the business.”
Fowler won sectionals in the long jump Saturday with a distance of 23-9 just an inch shy of matching his school record, a mark that he set in the season-opening Carthage Invitational. Carthage hosted sectionals Saturday, so it’s safe to say that Fowler has a soft and warm spot in his heart for David J. Haffner Stadium.
“It definitely feels like we float,” Fowler said. “Whenever we triple jump and we get those long phases, it feels like we’re floating in time and time has pretty much stopped.”
Fowler placed third Saturday in the 200 with a time of 22.82.
Fowler will be joined at state in the triple and long jumps and the 4×100 by his first cousin, senior Trayshawn Thomas.
“It feels great,” Fowler said. “My freshman year, me and him made it to state. I’m so happy that we made it to state for his senior year.”
“I get to go against my cousin at practice,” Thomas said. “Me and him compete against each other to see who gets the best distance. We’ve been together our whole lives.
“We’ve talked about it for a while. Before my first time jumping (sophomore year), we talked about going to state together. We made it.”
Thomas, listed at 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds and who has signed to play college football with the hometown team Missouri Southern, finished second Saturday in the triple at 44-4 and third in the long at 22-1.5.
“I did alright,” Thomas said. “I still need to work on my phases (three phases in the triple jump: hop, step, and jump). My landing, I think I did decent, but it still needs some work.”
Thomas and Fowler ran the second and anchor legs, respectively, on the 4×100 that placed fourth Saturday with a time of 43.93 seconds, their best time of the season. Dominick Simmons and Luke Vieselmeyer are the other two legs of the 4×100.
Junior thrower Donovahn Watkins won Joplin a sectional title in the shot put when he tossed the implement 53-6.25.
Senior runner Micah Bruggeman, who just recently signed with Mizzou to run cross country and track, qualified for the big meet in the 800 (third in 1:57.67), the 1600 (third in 4:22.48), and as one-fourth of the 4×800 (third in 8:11.14). Sophomore teammate Hobbs Campbell, the anchor leg on the 4×800, finished second in the 1600 (4:20.17).
The Eagles had 11 of their 14 sectional entries qualify for state.
On the girls side, all three Joplin entries will be headed to state and they established new school records in their respective events: junior Jennalee Dunn won the 1600 in 5:14.37 and took second in the 800 in 2:22.49, while senior Alayna Merriman finished third in the javelin with a toss of 113-11.
— Meanwhile, Carthage senior Caleb Calvin won sectionals on his home turf with a throw of 175-0 in the javelin and he will be making his first state meet.
“I started (javelin) freshman year, that summer in my backyard,” Calvin said. “I was doing running events throughout middle school. Learning all the (javelin) technique, there’s always more stuff to improve on. You can always get better. (The biggest challenge) is practicing all the different footwork and techniques.”
Calvin entered sectionals having the third best javelin mark in the state and he’s striving for the best in his final high school meet next week.
“It’s been an undefeated season so far,” Calvin said. “This just adds to it and I’m hoping to do good at state. I didn’t go to state my sophomore year. You had to throw a certain amount to go there and I was right under it. It definitely motivated me to work harder, so I could beat that this year.”
Calvin missed qualifying for state as the second leg of Carthage’s 4×100 — beaten out by .07 by fourth place Joplin.
Sophomore runner Miguel Solano finished second in the 800 in 1:57.43 and ran the second leg on the 4×800 that finished fourth in 8:13.89. Malcolm Robertson, Ty Lewis, and Richard Contreras, all seniors, are the others on the state-qualifying relay.
— Branson junior Cali Essick qualified for state in three events, her day highlighted by a school record in the long jump with a mark of 19-2.75. She finished second overall in the long jump, won the triple at 37-3.25, and placed third in the 200 in 26.17.
Other state qualifiers for the Branson girls: junior Kayli Thomas third in the high jump at 5-3 and sophomore Allison Thomas second in the javelin at 119-1.
On the boys side, junior Colsen Conway and senior Payton McCormick finished 1-2 in the 300 hurdles in 39.69 and 39.91. Sophomore pole vaulter Kyshin Isringhausen placed second at 12-4.75 and McCormick also finished second in the 110 hurdles in 15.41.
— Ozark senior Sydney Johnson won both the girls 100 and 200 with times of 12.32 and 25.45, respectively. Joined by fellow senior Anna Hitt and freshmen Ella Counts and Blaire Pace on the 4×200 and Hitt, Pace and junior Adriana Wakeman on the 4×400, Johnson ran the anchor leg on both winning relays and their overall times were 1:43.11 and 4:03.23.
Sophomore pole vaulter Abby Beets won with a clearance of 10-1.5, the 4×800 finished third, junior Ellie Kitchin took fourth in the 1600 in 5:29.72, and Hitt won sectionals in the 400 in 58.21 with Wakeman fourth in 1:02.86.
On the boys side, senior Nolan Moeller placed fourth in the pole vault at 11-10.75, junior Ryan Dotson took second in the javelin at 172-1, senior Owen Brockman fourth in the 100 in 11.47, the 4×200 and the 4×400 each finished second, and senior Riley Newsom won the 400 in 50.02.
— The Nixa Eagles and Lady Eagles will be represented well at state.
On the girls side, senior Lily Simmons finished second in the high jump at 5-3 and third in the 100 hurdles in 16.07, junior Dakota Hale fourth in the javelin at 112-2, the 4×800 first in 9:47.22, junior Alison Kamies third in the 100 in 13.04, the 4×100 second in 50.58, junior Carlee Brumley third in the 300 hurdles in 47.97, junior Macy Kopp third in the 800 in 2:24.88, freshman Faith Chepkondol fourth in the 200 in 26.93, and juniors Alicen Ashley and Emily Harris third and fourth in the 3200 in 11:49.72 and 11:59.96.
On the boys side, senior Michael Sportsman finished second in the high jump at 6-1.5, freshman Afton Hopkins third in the pole vault at 11-10.75, juniors Tony Perez and Carter Krummen first and third in the discus at 158-11 and 134-10, junior Koby Graham fourth in the javelin at 156-3, senior Steven Ward fourth in the shot at 45-8.5, sophomore Austin McCracken third in the 100 in 11.38, the 4×100 third in 43.73 and the 4×400 also third in 3:26.92, and senior Smith Wheeler third in the 400 in 50.29 and fourth in the 200 in 22.88.
— The Waynesville boys put together a strong performance Saturday: senior Jared Hyatt won the high jump at 6-2.25, senior Justin Knight finished fourth in the long jump at 21-8, senior Keyshawn Smith and freshman Jonathan Hedrick placed 3-4 in the triple at 42-11 and 42-4.25, the 4×800 placed second in 8:09.27, freshman Jayzen Blake won the 100 hurdles in 15.11 and senior Almonzo Martin won the 100 in 11.09, the 4×100 and 4×200 each took first in 43.10 and 1:29.06, and senior Bryan Obarr finished second in the 3200 in 9:41.48.