JEFFERSON CITY – Deep down inside, William Chrisman High School senior Jordon Woods knew the opening day of the Class 5 Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships at Adkins Stadium at Jefferson City High School were going to be special.
"I just knew it, I could feel it," said Woods, who topped a star-studded triple jump field to claim his first gold medal at state. "I was second in the triple jump my sophomore year, then, I tore my ACL my junior year playing football. After that, a lot of people gave up on me. But I never gave up on myself and my coaches never gave up. This win is for everyone who supported me the past year as I went through rehab and worked so hard to make this moment happen."
Woods hit a personal-best 48 feet on his first jump, and coach Tyler Rathke said that was the moment he knew his young star was going to leave the meet with a gold medal hanging around his neck. He finished at 48 feet, 1.5 inches.
"It was over after that 48-foot jump," Rahke said. "He finished with a PR and a school-best 48-1.5 jump and I think I was more excited than he was. He's worked so hard to make that moment happen. No one knows how hard he worked, the sacrifices he made, to make this happen. These are the moments a coach lives for – to see someone who has worked so hard, get rewarded for all that hard work."
Woods' jump even attracted praise from Blue Springs coach Joe Cusack, whose Wildcats are attempting to win back-to-back state titles.
"Please tell that young man how proud we are of what he has accomplished," Cusack said. "He was second his sophomore year to our own Justin Hall, who won the state championship. Then, we were all just sick when we heard he tore his ACL, and you never know how that's going to work out. I know from talking to Coach Rathke that he put in hours and hours of work, of rehab, and he was rewarded today. We at Blue Springs High School are proud of Jordon Woods."
Two years ago, Woods was among the top 10 triple jumpers in the nation, then he tore his ACL in a football game against Winnetonka.
"I was at the game, and I can close my eyes and still see that play," Rathke said. "Not many athletes could come back and be stronger than they were before the injury. That tells you what kind of young man Jordon Woods is."
Woods had to sit and wait with many of his teammates as rain forced a two-hour delay in the meet.
"The rain didn't bother me, and when we came back, the jumping area was fine," Woods said. "I wanted to win for my team, my coaches and my school. And I wanted to win for every athlete who has ever suffered a serious injury and had to come back from adversity. I showed anyone who is going through that rehab process that you can come back – and you can come back bigger and better than ever.I am living proof of it. You have to believe in yourself, trust your coaches and trust God."
Daniel Carson, one of Woods' teammates, won his first medal and all-state honor in the discus, throwing 163 feet, 6 inches to finish fifth.
"I am very happy to win my first medal in the discus," Carson said, "but tomorrow I am going for the gold in the shot put. That is my event and I am confident I can win state. I have been working hard with Coach Rathke and I think my hard work is going to pay off."
Added Rathke: "Daniel has looked great in the shot put. I think he got a lot of confidence today in the discus, winning his first medal. We're all excited to see what he does tomorrow."
• It was an inconsistent day for Cusack's Wildcats, who hoped to score big points in the discus and 3,200 relay.
"Daniel Parker had a tough day in the discus and didn't score a point – that happens," Cusack said, "and we're looking for big things from him tomorrow in the shot put. And our 3,200 relay team ran well but finished in sixth place. Those things happen. We're still in the hunt for a team trophy, we just didn't get as many points today as we'd hoped.”
Tre’ Wheaton earned an all-state honor in the triple jump with an eighth-place finish (44-9.5). Morgan Cauveren earned all-state in the 3,200 with a seventh-place showing (9:37.94).
The 1,600 (second) and 800 (seventh) relay teams earned a spot in Saturday’s finals.
Xavier Hall qualified for the finals in both the 110-meter hurdles (third, 14.61) and 300 hurdles (fifth, 39.26).
• After the first day, Kirkwood leads Class 5 with 23 points. William Chrisman is in fourth with 14, Blue Springs is in 10th with six and Lee's Summit North, who won sectionals last week at William Chrisman, is in 14th with five points.
"I think today pretty much went as we anticipated," North coach Eric Davis said. "We got our sprinters through and some of our relays. Kirkwood is always tough – there are a lot of tough teams in this class. We'll be excited to see what happens tomorrow."
Lee’s Summit North’s Devon Richardson earned all-state honors in the triple jump, taking fifth (46-9.5).
• In Class 4, Grain Valley fared well.
"We got Brendan Mahurin (hurdles) and Marcus East (100) through and our 4x2 (800) and 4x1 (400) relay teams," boys coach Marc Cleveland said. "We're excited to see what Ethan Macoubrie does tomorrow in the javelin and high jump."
Oak Grove’s Nathan Foster advanced to the 300 hurdles finals with a third-place time (38.62)
Go to trxctiming.com to see a complete list of all area athletes who advanced to Saturday's finals.