Washington advanced to the Class 4 MSHSAA track and field championships in five events during sectional action last Saturday.
Competing in the Class 4 sectional 3 meet at West Plains High School, four members of the Lady Jays team qualified for the state meet.
The top four finishers in each sectional event qualified for the state meet Friday and Saturday at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Kirstie Leslie, Abi Brown, Abby Stricker and MC Landolt all will represent Washington at the state meet.
Just how fierce was the competition at the sectional meet?
Leslie, a junior, set a new school record in the pole vault by clearing 10-6, but finished sixth out of the eight competitors. She broke school records in two of her four events.
“We had confusion in the pole vault as we put Kirstie’s pole into the wrong case after practice on Thursday. When it was time to vault, she had to move up to a pole 10 pounds heavier than her normal pole,” said Washington Coach Mike Olszowka. “She had a nice tail wind and made the proper adjustments. She set a new school record, only to place sixth.”
Leslie did advance in both the long jump and the triple jump.
Leslie finished second in the long jump with a leap of 17-2.
In the triple jump, Leslie broke her own school record, finishing third with an effort of 38-2.
Leslie also tied for fifth in the high jump at 4-10.
“Kirstie had a day that looks pretty good on paper, but she struggled only to pull it together when she needed to,” Olszowka said. “She hasn’t scratched in the long jump or triple jump in at least a month. She scratched four times Saturday. When she needed to, she stepped in and nailed a big jump, eventually ended up breaking her own record in the triple jump.”
Washington crowned two sectional champions.
Brown, a sophomore, won the 800-meter run in a time of 2:21.3.
“Abi was very nervous going into the 800-meter run. She was concerned about her race strategy, especially remembering last year when the girls from the other district had big-time drops at sectionals. We talked to her and reminded her just to be herself,” Olszowka said. “We know that if Abi goes in to the 600-meter mark, she will not lose position, and more than likely will pick people off down the stretch. At 600 meters, Abi was in second. Coming out of the curve, she started to move out to make the pass. When she did pass, she left no doubt that she was the strongest runner on the track as she continued to pull away.”
Stricker, a freshman, won the high jump by clearing 5-0.
“Abby was mentally the best high jumper in the girls event,” Olszowka said. “Some facilities are better than others. Sometimes the weather is a factor. Both were issues Saturday. There was a huge tail wind, which causes difficulty for jumpers in making the correct adjustments. The high jump apron was too small and surrounded by a 5-inch curb that the jumpers had to think about. Then throw in that these are the sectional championships. These are the situations that break inexperienced freshmen.
“Abby rose to the top. The best two jumpers had terrible days because they could not mentally adjust. Abby was the only girl who looked comfortable. She did not have her best day of jumping, but she maintained her poise and consistency, making her mentally the strongest and the best jumper that day.”
Landolt, a sophomore, advanced to state with a third-place finish in the 100-meter dash in 12.78.
“Before the 4x200 broke the school record, Mary Catherine had to run the 100-meter dash. We knew she was in good shape. She spent a lot of time in the blocks last week and it paid off,” Olszowka said. “She got a good jump from the start. By the 60-meter mark, she was in fifth place. After that it comes down to strength and who can carry their speed the longest and who slows down the least. MC drove past two girls in the last 30 meters for a third-place finish.”
Just missing a state berth with a fifth-place finish was the Lady Jays’ 800-meter relay team, running a school-record time of 1:46.75. Team members were Lauren Brinkmann, Emily Stricker, Brown and Landolt.
“We were a bit disappointed to finish fifth. We really felt like we could make it through,” Olszowka said. “Then we saw the official time and we were ecstatic. We had another huge time drop and most importantly shattered the school record by nearly a half a second. The way these kids have progressed through the workouts in the past three weeks is amazing.”
Representing the Blue Jays at the sectional meet was Dillon Quaethem, who had his season end in the high jump.
“DJ was one of many casualties due to the conditions in the high jump,” Olszowka said. “He had a great week of practice. As we were able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with DJ, we learned a lot more about his abilities. He had numerous jumps over 6-2. His overall athleticism is among the best I’ve seen. He is a strong hurdler, high jumper and shot putter. He was a successful discus thrower in junior high. We started looking at him as a possible decathlete. He messed around with the javelin a little this week and we tried to teach him some basics in the pole vault. He picked up both events very quickly. DJ’s ability to be competitive at so many different types of events will make him very desirable to a lot of colleges in the future.”
Washington finished fourth in the girls team standings with 50.5 points.
Jefferson City claimed the girls team title with 139.5 points.
Rock Bridge took the boys crown with 105 points.
The Classes 3-4 state meet takes place Friday and Saturday at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Leslie competes in the triple jump Friday at 11 a.m. and the long jump Saturday at 11 a.m.
Landolt competes in the 100-meter dash preliminaries Friday at 1:20 p.m. The finals are Saturday at 1 p.m.
Stricker competes in the high jump Friday at 2 p.m.
Brown competes in the 800-meter run preliminaries Friday at 4:45 p.m. The finals are Saturday at 2:55 p.m.
The top eight finishers in each event earn all-state honors.