It was crowded on the podium for area athletes as Washington hosted the MSHSAA Class 4 State Track & Field Championships Saturday.
Competitors from Washington, St. Francis Borgia Regional, Union, Pacific and St. Clair earned state medals in 14 different events. Six of those medals were earned in the boys competitions, headlined by two male individual state champions.
The event was held at Washington after a tornado Wednesday evening affected the event’s previously scheduled facility in Jefferson City.
In the boys team scores, Grandview claimed the state championship with 63 points. Festus was the runner-up with 50 points. Rockwood Summit (44 points) and Laude (34 points) also received hardware, finishing third and fourth respectively.
Of area teams, Union had the top score with 17 points, finishing 14th overall. Borgia and Sullivan scored 10 points each to tie for 23rd overall with Cape Notre Dame and Willard. Pacific scored five points and Washington received one point.
The hurdles were the big event for area competitors as both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300-meter intermediate hurdles were won by Franklin County Athletes.
Adam Bell of Borgia had only the seventh-best preliminary time in the 110-meter high hurdles Saturday. However, when the final race was run, he found himself on top of the podium.
“To end my high school career, this is definitely one of my top (achievements),” Bell said. “This probably is the top, winning state my senior year. Last year, I finished seventh. I just didn’t want to get seventh again and I got more than seventh.”
Bell ran the race with a time of 14.7, edging Grandview’s D’Monte Blanks by .08 of a second.
“He was quite disappointed in the way he raced in prelims and that certainly played a part in his motivation for the final,” Borgia Coach Mitch Figas said. “In the final, the athlete to his right got off to a very quick start. Around hurdle No. 3, I knew Adam would catch and pass him, so I turned my focus to the middle of the track. I must say, much to my surprise, things weren’t going very well there and at hurdle six, I vocalized that he was going to win it. What a great way to end your senior year. I am so happy for him.”
Union’s Demetrius Clark won the state championship in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles with the fastest time of 38.79.
“I was just trying to come out fast and hit 37 seconds,” Clark said. “That’s the school record. I didn’t hit (that mark), but I’m pretty satisfied with the win. I just had to run my race and try to hit the time I’d practiced for all week.”
Clark and Bell, both seniors this year, were returning state medalists in their respective hurdle events from last season. Both built on their success in making last season’s finals by claiming the state title this time around.
“We knew from the beginning of the season that Demetrius Clark had a really good chance of claiming the championship title in the 300 Hurdles,” Union Head Coach Sarah Meiners said. “With the work he has put in both preseason and during season, I can say he truly deserves that title.”
Clark additionally earned a third-place medal in the 1,600-meter relay with teammates Christophe Poinsett, Trevor Kelly and Peyton Burke. Union ran the race in 3:35, winning their heat by .05 of a second against St. Charles West.
In the other heat, Ladue earned the gold medal with a time of 3:22.12, followed by Rolla in second place at 3:24.67.
Clark finished 10th individually in the 200-meter dash and raced in the 400-meter dash where Union was disqualified. Poinsett, Cameron Kriete and Daniel Thwing were also a part of the 400-meter relay team.
Poinsett competed in the 100-meter dash, finishing eighth with a time of 11.34.
Kriete qualified for the state meet in three events as a freshman. He finished in a tie for 10th place in the high jump with a personal record of 6-2 and took 13th in the long jumpw ith a mark of 20-7.75.
“Cameron Kriete had a heck of a meet,” Meiners said. “He was the only freshman in both the long jump and high jump. ...He had a phenomenal season and gained valuable experience with state-level competition.”
In the boys pole vault, Pacific’s Gavin McDonald took a fourth-place medal, the third state medal of his career. McDonald cleared the bar at 14-9.
“He went in at the highest starting height he had all season,” Pacific Head Coach Justin Perriguey said. “It was a smart move and I think it paid off. He had a great meet and would have had to equal his personal best to move up a spot.”
Washington’s Noah Little finished eighth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:04.77.
Sullivan athletes earned medals in two boys events. Tyler Hesse was seventh in the boys shot put with a throw of 49-2.
The Eagles’ 800-meter relay team of Jonathan Krygield, Ethan Krygiel, Jason Blankenship and Blaine Blankenship finished seventh in 1:31.41.
St. Clair’s 800-meter relay team of Conner North, Zach Browne, Pepper Stark and Tyler Stark placed 13th in the race.
Also competing in boys events at the state championships were Washington’s Daulton Bender (10th in the 400-meter dash, 51.00), Union’s Nick Luechtefeld (10th in the javelin, 158-9) and Borgia’s Sam Schmidt (14th in the 200-meter dash, 23.18).
“(I am) really happy for Sam,” Figas said. “He has improved by leaps and bounds this season. He is not the first athlete to have a rough go his first time at the state meet. He will use this experience moving forward and I see some success for him at state in the future.”