Success and relay teams have been synonymous for years in the Blue Springs High School girls track program.
In 2014 and 2015, the 400-, 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter relay teams were each all-state – a first in the storied Wildcats program.
This past Saturday at the Class 5 District 7 meet at William Chrisman High School, the Wildcat relay teams accomplished another spectacular first – winning each event.
Reese Howard, Alyna Thibault, Madeline Purvis and Elyse Valdivia got the meet off to a successful start with a win in the 3,200 (4x800), finishing in a time of 10:07.97.
Sy’maih Smith, Ty’Le Whitmill, Payton Minnis and Cori Davis then topped the 400 (4x100) field with a 49.49 clocking.
Smith, Minnis and Davis then joined No. 2 runner Talia Pfeiffer to win the 800 (4x200) in 1:44.22.
Minnis, Howard, Valdivia and Davis wrapped up a team district championship performance by winning the 1,600 (4x400) in 4:07.31.
“What can I say?” asked coach Jennifer Reeder, who takes great pride in the success of the relay teams. “The girls care so much about each other and take a lot of pride in the success of our relay teams. Was I expecting four relay championships? No, but I knew we’d be successful.
“Now, to be honest, some of the best teams in the state weren’t at our district, and we’ll start seeing better teams and stronger competition this Saturday at Blue Springs South for sectional, and we’ve talked about that.
“But the girls are excited after all the success we had at district and I know they’re going to work hard to make sure they get on to state.”
The top four teams at sectional qualify for the state meet May 26-27 at Adkins Stadium in Jefferson City.
While Reeder is quick to admit the Wildcats have no superstars, she knows that sophomore Cori Davis is taking the fast track to stardom after anchoring the 400, 800 and 1,600 relay teams and winning the 300 hurdles (46.51).
“We’re asking so much of Cori,” Reeder said after Wednesday’s wind-blown practice that survived gusts up to 45 mph and a quick thunderstorm. “She’s just a sophomore, and we’re treating her like a senior. We expect so much from her – not only her performance in the 300 hurdles and the three relay events, we expect her to be a leader on this team, and that’s not always comfortable for a sophomore.”
However, Davis said she is ready for any challenge that comes her way.
“Coach Reeder and I didn’t really see eye to eye on everything last season,” Davis admits, “but I changed my approach, the way I do everything, this year. I listen to Coach Reeder because all she is trying to do is make me a better competitor, a better person and a team leader.
“I know I’m a sophomore. My teammates know I’m a sophomore, but I feel like if I can inspire them, and help them by running hard in the hurdles and the three relays, then I’m going to do it – and I’m going to love doing it.
“This whole track team is one big family – and that’s because of our coaches. They love us and we love them. But the relay girls, well, they’re my family within the team family.
“We’re all sisters. We love each other, if someone is down we pick them up, we can talk about anything to anyone on our relay teams and we’re all so young most of us will get to run together for a lot more years.”
Valdivia is the lone senior in the group, and she loves the energy that comes from her younger teammates.
“Our relay teams are special,” Valdivia said. “It was so special to win all four relay events at district. We started with the win in the 3,200 and just kept winning. One of the coolest things about it was seeing how excited Coach Reeder got, and how excited all the girls on the relay teams were.
“We have a lot of talent, but we have great chemistry and we love each other. We want to do well so we don’t let anyone down and I think that’s as important as having the talent. But now, we have to forget about district because we know we have a big challenge at sectionals – and we have to do well so we can keep practicing and running together.
“None of us want this season to end.”