ST. LOUIS – Throughout an undefeated senior track and field season, everyone wondered what Blue Springs South distance specialist Tori Findley could do against some competition.
She often ran away from the pack, as she did to win the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at the Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships in Jefferson City two weeks ago.
“We all wondered that, and we thought we’d find out at the Festival of Miles,” said South girls track coach Ryan Unruh, who took Findley to one of the premier meets in the country, the Festival of Miles at St. Louis University High School. “But in the end, Tori did what she has done all season – she ran away from everyone.”
Findley ran a personal best 4 minutes, 49.35 seconds to win the event, after finishing in third place as a junior.
Second-place finisher Mikayla Reed finished in 4:56.29.
“My goal all year has been to run a sub 4:50 and I was finally able to do it,” said Findley, who will be a part of the University of Missouri cross country and track and field teams in the fall. “It was great to go to an event, knowing I just had one race to run – the mile.
“At state, I ran (the anchor leg of) the 3,200 relay, the 1,600 and 3,200 and I was wondering how much of my legs I would have left for the Festival of Miles,” she said. “I guess I had enough. There was a really good field with girls from all over the Midwest and Texas and when I made that last turn and saw I had a chance to break 4:50 I went after it.”
And her coach was there to enjoy, and record, every minute of her finest hour on the track.
“People ask me all the time, ‘Does she do anything to surprise you?’ and I just say no, she doesn’t,” Unruh said. “I’ve been lucky enough to coach some great girls at South, but I have never coached, or seen, an athlete have a year like Tori had this past season.
“She wins the cross country state championship in the fall then comes back and finishes an undefeated season in the 1,600 and 3,200 and wins state in each of those events. She has exceeded my ability to coach her, to make her better.
“It’s time for someone to help her reach the next level, to do even more great things, and I think we’re all going to see that happen at Missouri.”