Uncertainty riddled Melanie Raterman as Saturday’s Class 3 District 4 track meet inched closer.
The Warrenton junior had spent the past month out of competition, recovering from an illness. She had saved all of her energy for the elimination round, hoping to land among the top four in the discus throw.
Raterman claimed first place in the event, winning with a top throw of 112 feet, 11 inches, to achieve her goal.
“Only eight people in the state can say they’re a district champion,” said coach Mike Spoede. “I’m really happy for her, and she was pretty thrilled.”
“It’s really exciting,” added Raterman. “Hopefully I can move on to state, because that’s what I’ve been practicing for since last summer.”
Questions of whether she would be at full strength or still have crisp technique weighed over Raterman early on. She did have to shake off some rust during warmups, but her concerns quickly faded as the meet unfolded.
“I was really nervous about whether I’d even be able to throw,” admitted Raterman, who was cleared to participate a few days before the competition. “My coaches, teammates and family members all gave me encouragement, and that helped.”
She also competed in the shot put, taking ninth with a top toss of 30 feet, 7.25 inches.
Raterman highlighted the day for the Warriors, providing their only first-place finish. Warrenton advanced to sectionals in three other events, including the 3200-meter relay.
The Warriors finished 10th out of 16 teams, amassing 33 points. Hannibal took top honors, with Bowling Green coming in second.
“Overall we had a pretty good weekend,” asserted Spoede. “We got through in the events we pretty much expected.”
The relay crew, consisting of senior Emily Mauch, juniors Hannah Keene and Melora Broker, and freshman Madeline Carlson, is looking to keep a streak of six consecutive state appearances intact. The team knows it will likely have to improve on its personal-best time from Saturday in order to advance.
“A 10:04 won’t get us out of sectionals, so we’ll definitely have to take more time off,” said Spoede. “But we can do it.”
The Warriors’ relay finished second at districts, narrowly eclipsing Hannibal, while finishing well ahead of Kirksville.
“Our time came down some, but I told the girls we’ve got a lot of work yet,” said Spoede. “There’s a few teams ahead of us, but there’s a bunch right there battling for the third and fourth spot.”
Mauch has taken on the role of emotional leader, keeping the team encouraged and focused on their goal.
“We definitely want to keep our streak alive,” said Mauch. “We all know we’re going to have to run our best times possible. That’s what we’ve been working toward all week.”
She says the team has elevated its performance since falling short of a medal at the GAC North meet two weeks ago.
“After our conference letdown we have that fire to not give up on this goal,” said Mauch.
She will have a full plate herself on Saturday, as she competes in the two-mile event late in the afternoon before making a mad dash to graduation. Mauch placed herself in the running by finishing third at districts, clocking a 11:56.
“The other two girls ran a really good race,” said Mauch. “It just wasn’t in me (to finish higher). I think I ran out a little too hard the first mile.”
She feels confident about her chances of reaching state with none of the qualifiers from the other district having recorded less than a 12-minute finish.
“I’m glad I can say an 11:56 is a bad race for me now, because last year I would have said that’s crazy,” said Mauch. “I feel pretty good going into sectionals. If I focus on getting a (personal best) and stay in the 11:00s, it should be a good race.”
Broker anticipated the relay team qualifying, but she surprised even herself by advancing in the 200-meter race. She pushed through with a time of 27.49 seconds, which was good enough for third place.
“She might have been the surprise of the meet in that event,” said Spoede.
“I never thought I would make it anywhere in a sprint race,” acknowledged Broker. “I’m really glad I did, but it will tough to make it through.”
Broker, who considers herself sort of the experimental competitor, has participated in perhaps more events than any of her teammates.
“Spoede kind of throws me in events,” quipped Broker. “Actually my goal is to try every single event.”
She claims to have just seven left.
Broker will compete at 3:40 p.m. on Saturday.
The 3200-meter relay will open the day with a 12:15 p.m. race, followed by Raterman’s discus competition at 1 p.m.
Mauch will finish up with the two-mile run at 4:15 p.m.