A mixture of athletes brought a third-place track relay medal home to Union from the Class 4 State Championships.
The relay team of Demetrius Clark, Trevor Kelly, Peyton Burke and Christophe Poinsett took third place in the 1,600-meter relay on Saturday, May 25.
The Class 4 State Championship was relocated to Washington after tornado damage was sustained in Jefferson City and at the planned host stadium for the Class 3, 4 and 5 events.
Union ran the race in 3:25, nearly five full seconds below the team’s seed time of 3:29.86.
Poinsett, running the last leg of the race, held off a surge from St. Charles West’s Trevin Blair down the final stretch to help Union win its heat.
Timed finals were used for all but three events at the Class 4 meet to fit the revised timetable and turn the meet into a one-day event.
“The 1,600-meter relay was the most exciting event of the day for us,” Union Head Coach Sarah Meiners said. “We were in the slower heat, and knew we had to win that heat, and run at least a 3:27 in that heat to make it to the podium. They did even better than that and won the heat in 3:25, which was a school record and good for 3rd place. It was an amazing race to watch and a great way to end the meet.”
The Wildcat foursome featured two seniors, Clark and Kelly and two juniors, Poinsett and Burke. It also featured two full-time track athletes during the spring, Clark and Poinsett, and two runners that also split time with the baseball team.
“We couldn’t have done it without the baseball boys,” Poinsett said.
Kelly and Burke, who finished the baseball season on May 14, only got one full week of practice with the track team before the state meet. Both competed at various meets with the track team throughout the season in addition to their baseball duties.
“We had our first full week of practice and I think that really helped a lot,” Kelly said. “The coaches did a good job (getting us prepared).”
Clark typically ran the anchor leg for the race this season, but Union switched things up with Clark taking the baton for the first lap and Poinsett finishing the race.
“I think it helped out a lot for both of us to run faster,” Clark said.
“It was smart coaching,” Poinsett added. “We were kind of going into it not really wanting to do it, but we had to trust our coach — she knows the best. It paid off.”
This same group of four finished first at Union’s home meet, the Don Olszowka Invitational, first at the Cape Invitational, second in Class 4 District 3 and third in Class 4 Section 2. Gabe Hoekel and Diego Orozco teamed with Burke and Kelly to finish second in the event at the Four Rivers Conference Championships.
The 1,600-meter relay was the final event of the meet, allowing Union to end the day on a high note after being previously hit with a disqualification in the 400-meter relay. Both Clark and Poinsett were a part of the 400-meter relay as well.
“It would be nice have another medal for the 400-meter relay, but we got disqualified and it is what it is,” Clark said.
Union’s time in the 400-meter relay was negated when the Wildcats third runner, Cameron Kriete, tripped during the handoff and fell in front of an opposing runner in a neighboring lane.
Without the disqualification, Union would have finished fifth in that race despite Poinsett, who ran the anchor leg, having to finish the race with just one shoe on. Poinsett lost his right shoe during the final handoff and still finished with what would have been the relay team’s second fastest time of the season.
Poinsett also medaled in eighth place in the 100-meter dash. Clark won the state championship in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles.
“Christophe Poinsett rolled his ankle two days before the meet and needed to scratch the 300 hurdles, but ending up with two state medals on his first trip to the state meet was huge,” Meiners said. “He will keep improving in the 100-meter dash and I am confident he will be back in that event (next) year.”
Union finished in 14th place in the team standings at the state meet with 17 total points.