The members of the Blue Springs High School boys 1,600 meters relay team knew they were running for some hardware, they simply didn't know which team trophy they would claim at Saturday's Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships at Jefferson City.
The members of the Blue Springs High School boys 1,600 meters relay team knew they were running for some hardware, they simply didn’t know which team trophy they would claim at Saturday’s Class 4 Missouri State Track and Field Championships at Jefferson City.
“We knew if we beat one team we’d be in third place,” Wildcats coach Joe Cusack said Saturday afternoon. “The guys knew they were running for a trophy. If we won it, we’d be the state champs. We finished in sixth and wound up tying McCluer for second place. Not bad when you think that there are 88 Class 4 schools in the state.”
Hazelwood Central scored 38 points to finish in first place, followed by the Wildcats and McCluer, who each scored 34 points. The only other area team to crack the top 20 was Lee’s Summit North. Coach Kris Solsberg’s Broncos finished in 12th place with 18.5 points.
The Blue Springs team of Dominic Piccinini, Erron Holley, Jacob Belke and Alex Johnson finished in a time of 3 minutes, 22.9 seconds to take the sixth-place medals and start the celebration.
“We weren’t even thinking about state when this season started,” said Holley, who finished sixth in the 100 and was part of the fifth-place 400 relay team and the sixth-place 1,600 squad.
“I wanted to do better down here – we all wanted to do better – but we’re proud to take home a second-place trophy. We worked hard for this.”
His senior teammate Deiondre Hall agreed.
“I was hoping for four firsts down here and didn’t get any,” said Hall, who was second in the high jump, fourth in the long jump, fifth in the triple jump and was part of that 400 relay team that finished in fifth place.
“But the individual medals don’t mean as much as the team medals and we’re bringing home a second-place trophy. That is sweet.”
This is Cusack’s fifth year as head coach at Blue Springs and his previous teams finished ninth, 27th, ninth and 25th.
“To go from 25th last year to second this year shows what kind of talent we had and what type of kids we had on the team,” Cusack said. “Just look at what ‘D-Hall’ did this weekend. It’s in the mid 90s, the humidity is off the charts and he competes in four events and scores points in each one of those events. If he doesn’t do what he did for the team, we’re not in second place.
“He gave everything he had – every guy on the team gave everything he had – and I’m proud of them.”
When told that Hall, Holley and some of his other competitors were disappointed they didn’t do more, to perhaps help the Wildcats bring home a first-place trophy, Cusack just smiled and shook his head.
“I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of guy,” Cusack said. “We haven’t had a state trophy at Blue Springs since 1998 – so this is special. There isn’t a guy on this team who didn’t give it everything he had. That’s all a coach could ask for.”
n Truman’s Roy Bay and Justin Brown picked up their first state medals.
Bay, a junior, was disappointed in his fourth-place finish in the 100.
“I wanted to win a medal, so I guess it’s all right,” Bay said, “but I wanted to finish in first place. There are a lot of fast runners here so I’m happy to win my first medal, but I wanted to do better. This will just make me work harder next year.”
Brown, a senior, was thrilled to leave Truman with a medal hanging around his neck after finishing sixth in the 1,600.
“Wow, this is amazing,” Brown said. “I came into the race and knew there were guys with faster times. I wanted to come back home with a medal. We may not have a lot of great athletes at Truman, but we have some very good ones who did amazing things this weekend at state. I am so proud to have this medal, I really am.”
n Lee’s Summit North’s Kolton Sheldon enjoyed a big weekend, finishing in third place in the 1,600, fifth in the 800 and was part of the third-place 3,200 team.
“It was tough competing in those three events, but it’s all about practice, working with a great coaching staff and knowing how to take care of myself in this heat,” Sheldon said. “I’m really happy. I wasn’t supposed to do anything down here and I’m taking home three medals, including a relay medal I can share with my teammates. I’m happy with every race. It’s all good.”
n Grain Valley sophomore Daniel Mahurin was thrilled to bring home a medal at his first state competition.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Mahurin, who was fifth in the Class 3 400. “I tried to start fast and then I wanted to kick it in at the end, but it was so hot, I just died. I just wanted to make sure (I finished in the top eight) and got a medal.”