It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

Sarah Wakeman, who has been the poster girl for the Blue Springs South track program the past four years, was not supposed to miss out on a state appearance her senior year.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.


Sarah Wakeman, who has been the poster girl for the Blue Springs South track program the past four years, was not supposed to miss out on a state appearance her senior year.


But that’s what happened at the Class 4 Sectional 4 meet at Blue Springs South Saturday afternoon.


Wakeman, a standout student/athlete who helped put the South track program on the map, was fifth in the 100 meters, a member of the fifth-place 1,600 relay team, sixth in the triple jump (despite a career-best and school-record jump of 32 feet, 2.75 inches) and seventh in the long jump.


The top four individuals and relay teams in each event advanced to the Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships in Jefferson City this weekend.


“I hate it that Sarah Wakeman is not going to state a senior,” South activities director Mark Bubalo said. “The last four years, she has been the measuring stick for all the other girls on the team.


“She made it popular to be a member of the South team. She’s just a great kid and a great representative of Blue Springs South High School.”


That’s the first time I’ve ever had an activities director make such a comment following a senior’s final sectional appearance.


He spoke from the heart.


When the 1,600 relay team just missed the state cut, freshman anchor Samantha Nightingale began to cry – even though she earned her own state ticket by finishing second in the 800 and 1,600.


“I’m going to be lonely at state,” Nightingale said. “I wanted Sarah and the other girls on the relay team to go with me to state. Sarah really deserves to go because she’s the leader of this team.


“I learned a lot about hard work this year by watching her.”


Wakeman took the disappointing afternoon in stride.


“I went to state last year and really enjoyed it,” she said. “I went in the long jump and 100, and didn’t medal in either event. But the experience was great.”


She paused for a moment, and added, “But I am going to state this year. I’m just not going as a competitor. I’m going to cheer for Samantha. We’re going to give her all the support we can.”


When that comment was relayed to Bubalo, he grinned.


“I’m not surprised Sarah said that,” he said. “I’m not surprised at all.”