And the MVP award goes to...
The Washington High School track program and administration.
At 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the Washington track team was getting ready to head to Jefferson City for the MSHSAA Class 3, 4 and 5 Track Championships.
At 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning, the school was preparing to host the Class 4 State Meet.
In the blink of an eye late Wednesday night, everything changed. An EF-3 tornado blew through the neighborhoods surrounding Jefferson City High School.
Damage at Pete Adkins Stadium was slight compared to the houses on the next block. The roof of the press box was mostly gone. Much of the fencing was ripped up and tents left there in preparation for the second round of the state event were blown away.
But the real damage was done at homes and apartments in the middle of Jefferson City. Hotels were damaged as well and the ones which were undamaged became temporary housing for those displaced by the devastation.
There was no way Jefferson City could host the meet.
Enter Washington. MSHSAA made a tough, but correct call. The state officials separated the three classes into separate meets. Two, the Class 3 and Class 5 meets went to Columbia at Mizzou and Battle High School, respectively.
But Class 4 came here after Washington officials and Union Athletic Director Dan Ridgeway stepped up to recommend Scanlan Stadium.
Help came from many sources from around the area. Washington High School organizations and alumni spent their Memorial Weekend Saturday running a track meet.
Maybe splitting the state meet by classes is the way to go in the future. Anyone who has seen three classes run at one time in Jefferson City knows the pain. It takes all of two days to get the meet in, if there aren’t any weather delays. It’s thunderstorm season and it’s very likely that there will be at least one weather delay during that meet.
With so many people packed into one location, it’s nearly impossible to empty the stadium in a quick proficient manner. That’s what happened in 2017. Many spectators were stuck in restrooms after a severe storm blew through on the final day.
I can remember sitting in the Adkins Stadium press box, the same one which lost its roof in the tornado, watching tent city fly away with Will Johnson of the Gasconade County Republican.
The Wednesday tornado should be a warning that you can’t pack that many people into one place in a storm-prone area. There probably shouldn’t be more than two classes at any one location and the meet needs to be run more proficiently. By necessity, timed finals were used this year to get the meet into one day. Maybe that’s the way to go in the future.
If you’re hosting a major event, you’ve got to have a plan. Dan Ridgeway of Union might be one of the best for that. He recognized the weather threat for sectional girls soccer last Tuesday, had his people watching for the storms and evacuated Stierberger Stadium with plenty of time before the storms hit.
And those who wanted to hunker down at the campus were given shelter in the school. As a result, nobody was left in the stadium when the line of storms hit. That was the same line which brought heavy rain, some hail and put down an EF-1 tornado between Labadie and Augusta.
Ridgeway officiated the Class 4 State Track Meet Saturday and it ran as smoothly as a meet could run under the circumstances.
Believe it or not, but state track wasn’t the only thing happening this weekend.
Both St. Francis Borgia Regional’s baseball team and Union’s girls soccer teams qualified for the state semifinals in their respective classes.
Borgia goes to the Class 4 Tournament at CarShield Field in O’Fallon Thursday and Friday. The Knights will play Helias Thursday and either Savannah or Westminster Christian Friday.
The Knights hammered three home runs to defeat Sikeston at home Friday in the quarterfinals.
Union was lucky to defeat Glendale Saturday at Stierberger Stadium, 2-1, in overtime. The Lady ’Cats got a pair of Logan Baeres goals to nudge past Glendale.
Union gets defending state champion Rockwood Summit in the semifinals Friday at Kansas City’s Swope Soccer Village. The Lady ’Cats will play either St. Dominic or Kearney Saturday in the last high school game of 2018-19.
If you’re waiting for American Legion baseball to start after the high school sports end, here’s an update. The Legion programs have been playing for a week now, starting with the Freshman teams. They’ll be hitting the playoffs by the end of June. Junior and Senior games are starting up as well.