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Examiner
  • NO MILDCATS

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  • JEFFERSON CITY – The third time was oh, so charming for Blue Springs High School track and field coach Joe Cusack, as his Wildcats ended a two-year run of finishing in second place with a monstrous performance Friday and Saturday in the Missouri Class 4 state track and field championships at Lincoln University.
    The Wildcats totaled a remarkable 83 points to end the four-year championship streak of third-place Hazelwood Central (42). Lafayette Wildwood was second (44) and Christian Brothers College fourth (35). Blue Springs South finished eighth (26) and Lee’s Summit North was 17th (12).
    Junior Carlos Davis set a state record with a throw of 212 feet, 5 inches (please see related story) and fellow junior Jacob Peister had a 47-2 effort in the triple jump to finish as the Wildcats’ two state champions.
    “We had two state champions and scored 83 points,” said Cusack, moments after getting a refreshing shower as pranksters dunked the coach with ice water from the team cooler. “We had 13 entries, and 12 finished in the top four and all medaled. That’s how you win a state championship.
    “And I can’t say enough good things about the kids on this team and our coaches. What a special group. This is a great day in Blue Springs track and field history.”
    Stephen Mugeche, who won the 800 meters, 1,600 and 3,200 at sectional, did not bring home a first-place medal at state but was the Wildcats top point man.
    “Let me tell you about Stephen Mugeche,” Cusack said. “He ran four miles down here and got us a team-high 19.5 points. He is a great leader and a great young man. This wasn’t about individual gold medals – this was about getting the state championship trophy and Stephen helped us accomplish that goal today.”
    Mugeche competed in the 800 (fourth, 1:55.30) and 1,600 (fourth, 4:15.36) Saturday and the 3,200 relay (third, 7:53.92) and 3,200 (second, 9:17.61) on Friday.
    “I feel great, because the only real goal we had this year was winning state, and we accomplished that goal today,” said Mugeche, who also was the team’s top point producer at every meet this season. “I ran against some great competition at state and am proud of what I accomplished.
    “But this isn’t about individuals – it’s all about the team - and we came and left it all on the track.”
    That was certainly true when it came to Peister, who wasn’t sure if he would be able to compete in the triple jump Saturday after spending most of Friday in bed with flu-like symptoms.
    “I had it all – the fever, the sick stomach, the head ache, I felt terrible,” said Peister, who was 10th at state as a sophomore. “Coming into today, I just wanted to get a medal. Getting a first-place medal made it even better. Then, to win a state championship is amazing.”
    Page 2 of 3 - He trailed first place by a half-inch when he unleashed his winning jump.
    “It felt good,” Peister said. “I didn’t know how long I jumped until I saw the sign. And I couldn't believe it. It felt so good.”
    Blue Springs’ Khalil Davis was second to his brother in the discus (197-0), Tamarick Quinney third in the 100 (10.92), Taysean Goodwin fourth in the 400 (48.73) and Kai Miller fourth in the pole vault (14-6), and the 1,600 team of Goodwin, Eli Leavell, Kane Harmon and Antwon President finished fourth in 3:22.11.
    It was the last race for seniors Leavell and President. The other senior on the team, Jayme Allen, ran on the 3,200 relay team Friday.
    “To wrap it up with a state championship and my fastest time ever (on his 1,600 anchor leg) is an amazing way to end my career at Blue Springs,” President said.
    Added Leavell, “We were confident all season that we would win a state championship and today we did it. It's amazing.”
    Allen agreed with his senior teammates.
    “Stephen and the Davis twins set the tone,” Allen said, “Jacob had the first-place finish in the triple jump, and the rest of us did what was expected. It's amazing. I am so honored to be a part of this team.”
    • Blue Springs South senior Tyler Blair went out with a bang, winning the 300 hurdles in 38.07 after taking fourth in the 110 hurdles (14.73). Before the start of his final track season, he made a commitment to himself.
    “I’m going to the University of Missouri to get a business degree, and I’m not going to change my mind,” Blair said after he played a big role in South’s eighth-place team finish.”
    “I made a commitment to myself before the start of track that I was going to MU, but back then, I never thought I’d have the type of season I just finished. I never thought I’d be a state champion – never! It’s been a dream season, especially since it’s my last one.”
    The Blue Springs South 400 relay team of Josh McClary, Myles Davis, Marquan Hughes and Brandin Dandridge finished fourth (42.82), and the same quartet took seventh in the 800 relay (1:29.50). Josh Watson was part of the area domination in the discus, finishing fifth (163-5).
    “What Carlos and Khalil did today in the discus was pretty amazing,” Watson said. “I’ve had a lot of fun competing in track and field at South, and now it’s time to get to Colorado State to play football. I leave June 14th and know it’s going to be a great challenge. I can’t wait.”
    Page 3 of 3 - • William Chrisman’s Dalvin Wilkerson finished third in the 200 (21.95), Fort Osage’s Josh Alt finished eighth in the 300 hurdles (40.33) and Lee's Summit North’s Matt Scaletty was fifth in the 300 hurdles (39.75).
    • In Class 3, Grain Valley’s Daniel Mahurin finished third in the 400 (48.95). The runners stepped to the starting line in a light drizzle, but the sun came out while they competed.
    “The 400 is God’s favorite race,” said Mahurin, who will run at Johnson County Community College with area coaching icon Tom Lester and Olympian. “God’s gonna let the sun shine when we run the 400.”
    • Oak Grove football star Skyler Hulse wrapped up a stellar prep career with a fifth-place finish in the 110 hurdles (14.99). Teammate Aaron Graham finished ninth in the long jump (20-8 3/4).
    “I’m happy with my performance today,” Hulse said, “and can’t wait to play football at Missouri State where I’ll be an outside linebacker.”
    Editor's note: Today's story deals with all the events from Saturday's state competition. Go to mshsaa.org for results from Friday and Saturday's events in each class.

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