JEFFERSON CITY – One streak ended and another remained intact Saturday at the Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships at Jefferson City High School.
The Lee’s Summit North boys won their first state crown since 2007 and the Blue Springs boys brought home state hardware for the seventh year in a row.
Both teams – both members of the Suburban Big Seven conference – claimed their Class 5 state trophies in dramatic fashion as the Broncos needed a fifth-place or better finish in the final event of the day – the 1,600-meter relay – to claim first place, edging Columbia Rock Bridge 60-58.5 for the title.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ second-place finish helped them tie Kirkwood with 44 points for the third-place state trophy. Blue Springs had won three of the past four state championships.
“I’m not real good at math,” joked Broncos coach Eric Davis, who was an assistant on coach Kris Solsberg’s state title teams in 2005 and 2007, “but we knew that if we finished fourth in the 4-by-4 we’d win by one and a half points and if we finished fifth we’d win by half a point.”
So he took Matthew Hughey, who runs the first leg of the 1,600 relay, and anchor Isaiah Vigliano aside and told them the scenario.
“When we heard that, we knew it was all about the team, and we had to go out and get it done,” Hughey said. “I had to do my best to get off to a great start and then it was up to Isaiah to get that strong finish.”
Vigliano nodded in agreement, adding, “I had to do my part. I knew we could do it in my heart, but we had to go out and do it on the track.”
They did, joining teammates Myles Madge and Blake Gillihan in a time of 3 minutes, 22.15 seconds to claim fourth place. Fifth place McCluer North finished in 3:23.14.
“What an ending,” said a beaming Mike McGurk, the North activities director, “and you know what? We only have two seniors on the team.”
North showed the importance of team strength in getting the third state championship in school history as Devon Richardson was the lone gold medal winner, capturing first in the high jump with a state record effort of 6 feet, 9 inches.
“To win a gold in the high jump and win a state championship as a team is like a dream come true,” Richardson said. “This has been an amazing weekend for all of us.”
Keyon Mozee was second in the 100 meters and Nyles Thomas was eighth; Marvin Hopkins was second and Christian Carter fourth in long jump – and those important points played a key role in the title.
“If you get multiple guys in an event it’s almost like winning an event,” Davis said. “In the 100 we got nine points. In the long jump we got 12 points. That’s better than winning an event with just one guy.
“The kids came through. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Blue Springs coach Joe Cusack felt the same way about his Wildcats, who had one gold medal winner Saturday, Tre’ Wheaton in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 2.25 inches.
“I feel so good, so proud of these guys,” said Cusack, who took his team over to congratulate the Broncos, as the two rivals embraced and shook hands after the final standings had been announced. “We fed off Tre’ today. Winning that long jump was huge, huge!
“But look at someone like Gabe McClain, who got us two points in the 800. If we don’t get those two points, we don’t tie Kirkwood for third place. That’s why I think it’s so funny when I hear someone say track is not a team sport. It is the ultimate team sport!”
Wheaton was thrilled with his performance.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this good,” said Wheaton, who has signed to compete in track and field and play football at Northwest Missouri State University. “I was second last year and I really wanted to win it this year and I was able to accomplish that. And it helps our team get some points, too, so it’s all good!”
Blue Springs medal winners and all-state honorees were McClain (800 meters and 3,200 relay), Oaklee Hauschild (1,600 and 3,200 relay), Morgan Cauveren (3,200 and 3,200 relay), Xavier Hall (110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), Coby Valaer (300 hurdles), Richard Fontenot (800 relay), Prince Griffin (800 relay), Quentin Fontenot (800 relay), Josh McCullough (800 and 1,600 relays), Donte Buckner (1,600 relay), Matt Marzolf (1,600 and 3,200 relays), Prince Griffin (1,600 relay), Daniel Parker Jr. (shot put) and Wheaton (long jump and triple jump).
• Blue Springs South senior D.J. Frost wrapped up a three-sport career with an eighth-place showing in the javelin.
“It’s great to be able to come to state and get a medal,” said Frost, who also plays football and basketball and will soon report to the United States Air Force Academy. “It all went by so fast – but I am really excited about the future.”
• Grain Valley’s Ethan Macoubrie finished third in the Class 4 high jump (6-6) and eighth in the javelin (152-2).
“I felt like I could have done better in both events,” said Macoubrie, another three-sport star who has signed to play football at Missouri Western State University, “but I am happy to get two medals at state.”
Grain Valley’s 400 meter relay team of Andru Garrett, Tyler Luke, Michael Marquez and Marcus East was fifth (43.01) and the 800 relay team of Garrett, Luke, Nate Booker and East was fourth (1:29.66).
East was eighth in the 100 (11.08) to earn all-state honors.
“It’s a great meet and it’s great to compete with your friends,” said East, a sophomore.
Garrett, a senior who attended Grain Valley just this past school year, added, “My time at Grain Valley was so special. This was a great way to say goodbye, with all my teammates on the track team.”
Garrett was a member of The Examiner’s All-Area basketball team.
• Oak Grove’s Nathan Foster was third in a photo finish 300 hurdles, with a time of 38.62.
“It was so close, and I wanted to get first, so I’m already looking forward to coming back next year and winning,” said Foster, a sophomore.
Look for more stories and features from the state meet in Wednesday’s Examiner. For a complete list of all winners go to mo.milesplit.com.