By Cody Thorn (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Daelen Ackley completed a rare distance sweep and his last win became arguably the biggest win in El Dorado Springs High School history.
The junior won the 800-meter to add to early titles in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. That helped the Bulldogs overcome an eight-point deficit in the standings to take the lead.
The two-point lead over Centralia held, though MICDS won the 4×400-meter relay and pulled within a point.
But in the end, the Bulldogs’ 43 points were more than MICDS (42) and Centralia (41) to win the Class 3 title at the MSHSAA Track and Field Championships held on Saturday at Adkins Stadium.
Of the 43 points, Ackley played a part in more than 30, winning three individual events and running on a relay team that got three points. Add Collin Hunter’s title in the pole vault, that was the extent of the points for Brian Goatley’s squad.
“The kids worked hard and everything fell into place at the right time,” Goatley said. “To be honest I would’ve been happy with a fourth-place finish to bring home our first trophy since I’ve been here. All of the sudden as the day went on the dominoes fell to eek out a win by one point. I couldn’t have scripted this any better.”
The championship is the first for any boys program at the high school and only the second trophy in school history joining the 1966 team that was fourth in Class B.
Ackley, who won the state cross country title in the fall, won the three distance events on Saturday.
“It feels great, I wanted to win that three,” Ackley said. “I thought about it early in the season and that was the goal. I knew the 800 would be the hardest because I am not speed based. I was hoping it would go out faster and I’d push the last 200. For me, it was great to get the three wins.”
He opened with a win in the 3,200-meter in 9:13.71 and never fell below second place. Heading into the last lap he trailed Southern Boone County’s Connor Burns but passed him down the straight away. About two hours later, he ran the last leg on the 4×800-meter relay, following Lunden Messick, Brice Knoll and Connor Goatley.
When Ackley got the baton, the Bulldogs were in 11th place and he moved them up to sixth by running the final two laps in less than two minutes.
By mid-afternoon he came one step closer to the distance trifecta by winning the mile, again holding off a charge from Burns down the straight away to win 4:22.11 to 4:22.37.
Ackley led the final two laps and that led into the 800, where he trailed Burns after the first lap. Ackley then made his move and took the lead but then held off a late surge by East Newton’s Kelton Sorrell, who finished four-tenths of a second behind Ackley.
“At the last second I saw Kelton and I really hope he didn’t outkick me,” Ackley said. “The mile and two miles were strategic but then the half-mile was all I got.”
Prior to the race, Goatley had a talk with the standout runner and laid out the scenario. If he could win, the Bulldogs could jump Centralia in the standings and possibly be in line for a team championship.
“I told him we have never had this shot before but I wouldn’t be disappointed if he didn’t win it,” Goatley said. “He went out and took it. He did what he had to do today.”
Hunter, a senior who moved to town from California last summer, cleared four of his five height attempts and won the title in the pole vault.
He cleared 14-4 ½, while runner-up Tim Whelan of Owensville jumped 13-9 ¼.
“It feels good to win, I really don’t mind having first place,” he said. “All that matters to me is having a fun meet and jumping high and getting a school record.”
The previous school record in the event was 14-3.
Big 8 Success
The Big 8 Conference had three championships from the event, one each from Lamar, Mount Vernon and East Newton.
Lamar’s Rylan Wooldridge’s best throw in the shot put was his first. That mark of 53-1 ¾ was enough to hold onto the title. That was still two feet longer than any throw unleashed by Westminster Christian’s Larry Minner, the runner-up at 50-10.
“It felt great to win, especially after what happened early this week with a close friend of mine,” Wooldridge said. “I came out to win for it; it felt amazing.”
East Newton’s 4×800-meter relay team of Chase Sorrell, Gabe Bergen, Garrett Downum and Kelton Sorrell won by nearly four seconds. Later in the day, the group of Bergen, Marcus Shaeffer, Robert McFarland and Kelton Sorrell took second. Bergen picked up a medal in the 300-meter hurdles.
Mount Vernon senior Sadie Heisner won a state championship in the triple jump and added two more medals.
She jumped 35-11 ¾ to win her only state championship in high school, while placing fourth in the 100-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash – both happening not long after finishing the triple jump.
“I know this is my last state meet at high school and I’m so glad to be here,” said Heisner, who will run at Central Methodist next year. “There was so much pressure; not going to lie, I enjoy it; it helps me be a better athlete.”
One school year, two medals
Grace O’Reilly of Springfield Catholic was the runner-up in the high jump at 1.64 meter, just behind Montgomery County’s Renee Finke’s mark of 1.68.
The sophomore for the Irish cleared up to 5-4 ½ but missed all three attempts at 5-5 ½, while Finke cleared it with her only attempt.
The first-time state qualifier had a previous best mark of 5-6, which Finke cleared to win the title.
“My goal was to beat (our) volleyball (finish) we got fourth place this year,” O’Reilly said. “It was relatively stress free. Like volleyball, there was, so much stress. This one, I felt calm and ready. These last two months I have focused on these and just went out and jumped.”
While Wyatt Cordray didn’t earn a medal in his final race of the day, this year’s state track provided some flashback for the junior from Mount Vernon.
Earlier in the day he ran next to Owensville’s Alan Kopp, who was disqualified for hitting the hurdles in the 300-meter event and impeded Cordray and Lutheran-St. Charles’ Brison Beck.
About five minutes after that race, he was told he would have to re-run the event – after the 4×400-meter relay.
About two hours after his 300-meter hurdles, he was back on the track to race Beck.
“I didn’t even want to run again but I might as well,” he said.
In what essentially was the third heat after having two heats to determine the championship, the race between the two did that. Beck ran 40.12 and took second overall.
That gave Lutheran (St. Charles) eight points and vaulted them into fourth place, passing McDonald County.
Cordray took 11th place overall.
The extra race was nothing new for him. It happened at sectionals too. There, a hurdler hit the bar and he was given a chance to do it again. He took full advantage of it and qualified for state with the extra race.
He didn’t have such luck this time around.
“I have no idea,” he said when asked how felt about the re-runs in back-to-back meets. “I have no idea. I guess I’m lucky. I usually only have to run it once but to run it twice, it takes a toll on you.”
Other notable finishes
Senior Delaney Walker won the 100-meter dash (12.67) and was fourth in the 400 (26.09) for New Covenant Academy.
Ava’s Hannah Evans placed second in the long jump and third in the 400-meter dash. Mountain Grove’s Macey Penner placed third in the 800-meter dash.