Eastern Jackson County will be well represented at the Missouri State Track and Field Championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City this weekend.

Eastern Jackson County will be well represented at the Missouri State Track and Field Championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City this weekend.

Blue Springs’ Monet Jackson, Blue Springs South’s Samantha Nightingale and Lee’s Summit North’s Carson Severson and Madison Smith won two events each at Saturday’s sectional meet at Staley High School.

Blue Springs’ Jayce Thomas and Blue Springs South’s Ben Harvel will also take first-place performances to the state meet, and Truman’s Justin Brown missed out on the top spot by less than a second in the mile.

Jackson won the shot put and discus. Nightingale ran away from the competition in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. Smith swept the hurdling events and Severson cruised to a win in the 800 and ran the first leg of the winning 1,600 relay team.

Thomas was on top of the world after winning his specialty, the 110 high hurdles (15.26), and he came back to set a personal-best mark in the triple jump (47-4), where he took second place.

And Brown, who was seeded seventh in the 1,600, was edged by less than a second (4:26.03) by Rockhurst’s Devon Young (4:25.58).

The top four finishers in each event advance to the state championship, which takes place Friday and Saturday.

“When I saw how the meet started, I knew I better get focused on the 110 highs,” said Thomas, referring to a bizarre 3,200 relay in which the two top teams – Lee’s Summit North and Liberty – were disqualified after dropping the baton.

“Coach keeps saying anything can happen at sectional, and he was right.”

Coach Joe Cusack was hoping his star hurdler didn’t see the DQ’s in the 3,200 relay because he wanted Thomas to be focused on his event.

“You don’t want a young man thinking about anything negative – it’s all positive at sectional,” Cusack said. “We’re so proud of Jayce. He came through big time in both of his events, and now we’re going to work hard this week to help him have that type of success at state.”

Harvel kept his winning streak alive in the 300 hurdles, topping the field clocking a 38.86, and then anchored the second-place 800 relay team that included Clarence Cochran, Steven Sullivan and Dylan Hernandez.

“I came here to compete and win the 300 hurdles,” Harvel said. “It’s exciting to win the hurdles, but the 4-by-200 was the best. To share that with the other guys on the relay team – to know that we’re all going to state – is a great feeling.”

Jackson was pleased with her performance in the shot and discus and credited a freshman for sparking her double-win afternoon.

“I’m a senior, and I wanted to go to state with a lot of confidence,” Jackson said. “And a freshman from Fort Osage (Asia Cole) was really having a great afternoon. She pushed me – pushed me hard. I didn’t want to lose to a freshman at sectional, even though I would have gone on to state as a qualifier. I owe her a lot because she was going after me all afternoon.”

Jackson won the shot with a personal-best 43-2 (Cole threw 42-3) and the discus with a 133-11 effort (Cole threw 133-6).

“I was so happy for Monet,” Blue Springs coach Jennifer Reeder said. “She has battled her confidence much of the season, and we all had a good feeling about sectional. She came through big time.”

Nightingale won the 1,600 in 5:05.92 and enjoyed a six-plus second win in the 3,200 (11.25.58).

“I’m pretty confident heading to state,” Nightingale said. “I went out today and did what I had to do. It wasn’t all that exciting, but I wanted to win both events and I did.”

South distance coach Ryan Unruh was a bit more excited about the junior standout’s performance.

“Mission accomplished,” Unruh said. “We survived. We advance to state, and we’ll work hard this week so Sam has a great state meet. She runs the 3,200 on Friday and the 1,600 on Saturday. So she will be fresh for both races.”

Severson made a strong showing for the Broncos, winning the 800 in 2:21.75 and joining Madi Wilkins, Ebony Hollinger and Shantaja Heath on the winning 1,600 relay team (4:03.92).

“I love running on the relay team with the girls,” the sophomore said. “It’s just so exciting to be a sophomore and to be going to state. We’re all excited and can’t wait for next weekend.”

Neither can her teammate, Madison Smith, who reclaimed her spot as the premier hurdler in the area with firsts in the 100 (14.83) and 300 (43.83). She placed third at districts in the 300 and was not happy after that performance.

“I am definitely happier today than I was at district,” said Smith, who was also third in the 200. “I just didn’t run well at district. No excuses –but I knew I was going to come out today and do better.”

Truman’s Brown said his game plan in the 1,600 was to get a top-four finish.

“I came in seeded seventh and got second. Wow.” Brown said. “That’s crazy, because I’m running right with some of the best runners in the state. I now feel like I belong right with the best running community in the metro area, and that is a great feeling.”

Truman’s Sara Ruckman and Alisha Meyer feel much the same way after finishing third in the 800 (2:22.16) and 400 (58.99), respectively.

“I didn’t make it to state in cross country, so this is very special,” Ruckman said. “We’re so proud of what Justin accomplished and now, we’re all going to get to go and compete at state.”

Said Meyer, “I feel so good, so proud. I ran a PR (personal record) and didn’t let the heat get to me. It just feels so good to be a part of the Truman track team today.”

J.D. Snead didn’t have any first-place finishers on his Fort Osage girls teams, but he knows the future is bright with a young performer like Cole.

“We found out today that Asia Cole can perform with the best in the state,” Snead said. “She was second in the shot and discus and we’re looking for big things at state.”

Please see Page B3 for a complete list of area state qualifiers.