Blue Springs South's Nightingale advances to state track and field meet

Samantha Nightingale, the unflappable Blue Springs South freshman, had just one goal heading into Saturday’s Class 4 sectional meet.

“I wanted to get to state in at least one event,” Nightingale said. “And I made it in two – so I am very, very happy.”

Nightingale was second in the 800 and 1,600 meters, setting personal-best times of 2 minutes, 17.57 seconds and 5:04.1, respectively, in each event to advance to next weekend’s Class 4 Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships at Dwight T. Reed Stadium in Jefferson City.

The top four finishers in each event advance to state.

“She did what she wanted to do – she met her goals,” South coach Dave Ceule said. “You watch her compete and you could never tell she’s just a freshman. She approached this meet like it was any other meet.

“By watching her, you would have never known that if she didn’t finish in the top four, her season was over.

“I’m looking for her to have a lot of success at state, just like she’s had all season.”

While area teams have dominated sectional action in the past years, no area girls performer took home a first-place medal.

“This was as tough a meet as I can recall,” said Blue Springs coach Jennifer Reeder, who is sending a freshman pole vaulter and two relay teams to state.

The Wildcats 3,200 relay team of Melissa Fuerst, Hali Metz, Shannon Danaher and Elizabeth Reynolds was second, as was the 400 relay team of Bria Taylor, Deja Boddie, Brittany Thomas  and Indicole Jordan.

“All the girls on the 4x800 team PR’d, and they cut nine seconds off their best time (finishing in 9:41.72),” Reeder said. “And freshman Megan Wright is, I believe, the first girl pole vaulter from Blue Springs to go to state. She went 9-6, and placed third. She has the chance to become a great pole vaulter.”

Longtime Fort Osage standout Kelcy Vanarsdall made sure she wasn’t shut out at state by placing fourth in the 400.

“I’m thankful for the 400,” said Vanarsdall, who didn’t make it in the 800 or as a member of the Indians’ 1,600 relay team.

“The competition was great today. And what about our freshman, Darian Grayson, finishing second in the 400? I’m as excited about Darian going to state as I am the fact that I’m getting to go my senior year.”

Two other Indians will also be going to state as Elaine McAlister was third in the shot put and Courtney Gapelu was fourth in the discus.