Houston Claims Four State Medals

Union's Anna Houston, left, and Bowling Green's Emily Schuckenbrock compete in the 100-meter high hurdles at the state track meet at Lincoln University. Houston earned all-state honors in the 100-meter high hurdles, the 300-meter low hurdles, the 800-meter relay and the 1,600-meter relay.

Anna Houston had a busy weekend competing at the MSHSAA track and field championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

The Union High School junior competed in four Class 3 girls events, and won four state medals. She recorded two second-place finishes, one third-place mark and one fourth-place spot.

“Winning four medals, I’m very happy about that,” Houston said. “It worked out good. I didn’t think I would get that many this year.”

The top eight finishers in each event earned all-state medals.

“Anna was in a zone. She was a part of three school records that fell during the meet,” said Union Coach Chris Kelley. “She had a great season. I would say she’s one of the top athletes to ever come through our school. She’s the leader of our team.”

Houston ran in eight races in two days at the state meet. Those events were the preliminaries and finals of the 100-meter high hurdles, the 300-meter low hurdles, the 800-meter relay and the 1,600-meter relay.

In the 100-meter high hurdles, Houston ran to a second-place finish in the finals in a time of 15.45. She reached the finals with the third-best preliminary time, 15.66.

In the 300-meter low hurdles, Houston placed third in the finals in a school record time of 44.79. She qualified for the finals with a time of 45.27 in the preliminaries, which was the best time in the field.

“I felt good during the race. I felt like I was doing good,” Houston said about the finals. “I hit a few hurdles, but I tried not to slow down too much.”

Kelley said Houston proved to be one of the top hurdlers in the state in Class 3.

“Before the meet, we figured she was sitting around fourth in both hurdle events,” Kelley said. “She performed to her capabilities and took home a silver and a bronze in her hurdles.”

So which hurdles event does Houston prefer?

“I really don’t know,” she said. “I like both of them.”

Houston also ran the anchor leg on the Lady ’Cats 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams.

The 800-meter relay team of Amber Tharp, Ali Overstreet, Janna Ruether and Houston finished second in the finals in a school record time of 1:44.72. Their preliminary time Friday was 1:45.58, which won the heat from lane eight.

Union’s 1,600-meter relay team of Taylor Lavalle, Ruether, Tharp and Houston finished fourth in 4:02.81. Their preliminary time on Friday was 4:01.33, a school record.

“Anna knew coming in there was a chance she would run eight races in two days and that’s what she did,” Kelley said. “Some people may not know how tough that actually is to do. Races are typically a 48-hour recovery. She had less than 24 hours until she was racing again with the same four events. She looked incredibly strong in each one.”

With her junior season at Union completed, Houston now has won seven all-state medals during her career in three trips to the state meet.

She placed eighth in the 300-meter low hurdles as a freshman. During her sophomore season, she tied for fifth place in the pole vault and finished eighth in the 100-meter high hurdles.

Houston’s versatility gives her the option to compete in many events.

For her senior season, she might try to reach the state meet in four individual events.

“I think next year I want to do the long jump and the pole vault, along with the two hurdles,” Houston said.

Track and field is not Houston’s only sport. She’ll have a busy summer preparing for her senior season.

“In the summer, I mostly play basketball,” Houston said. “The volleyball coach wants me to play volleyball next year, but I’m usually a manager for football. I guess I’ll think about playing volleyball and then basketball in the winter and track in the spring.”