There was some uncertainty coming into the Fort Osage invitational for Blue Springs boys track and field coach Joe Cusack.
A few of his varsity athletes were not competing for various reasons, so a few of his junior varsity competitors had to step up. That’s exactly what they did when the Wildcats edged Grain Valley for first place 132-131 to claim first place Wednesday.
“To win this meet is a big deal because we had varsity athletes here with guys who are high-end JV,” Cusack said. “I really didn’t know we could win this meet today.”
Fort Osage was third (110), Blue Springs South fourth (91), Van Horn fifth (89), William Chrisman sixth (75) and Truman seventh (55).
Cusack said if he had to choose an MVP for the meet, it would be junior Cooper Willich, who is competing in track for the first time this year. He won the 200-meter dash (23.76 seconds) and helped the 4x200-meter relay team take second (1:31.40).
“Running the 200 was different. I thought I did well for the first time running it,” Willich said. “I only ran in one other meet before this.”
Sophomore Fred Burt also was a big contributor to the Wildcats’ success as he took first in the long jump (20 feet, 7 inches).
“I was really excited because all four of my jumps were (personal records),” Burt said.
Other Blue Springs winners were the 4x100 team of Stefan Black, Celestino Almeida, Nick Wood and Patso Tapusoa; and the 4x800 team of Adam Hubner, Zach Hubner, Taylor Gartica and Elijah Simpson (9:06.07).
Kevin Gutierrez nearly led Grain Valley to a first-place plaque. Despite battling a cold, he anchored the winning 4x400 team with Logan Pratt, Jaxon Jarman and Kendall Schrader (3:31.69) and won the high jump (6 feet).
“I didn’t have the best day with illnesses and all that, but I just did the best I can,” Gutierrez said. “I struggled a little bit form-wise (in the high jump) but I had some extra bounce.”
Fort Osage’s Gavyn Monday was another athlete to win more than one event. On the newly renovated track, he took first in the 100 (11.63) and the 400 (51.27).
“It felt different,” Monday said of running on the new track. “We were used to running on the six-lane track with ripped up pieces. Now we have one of the best facilities in the state.”
Cusack had similar sentiments to Monday in regard to Fort Osage’s new facilities. Blue Springs will host the Class 5 District 6 tournament, but because of some construction that will be going on at the high school, the meet will be held at Fort Osage.
“Fort Osage was kind enough to say we can use their facility. They will be at Chrisman that day,” Cusack said. “I got the chance to look at the facility here and it’s beautiful. Our kids competed well here today so that makes it extra special.”
Fort Osage head coach J.D Snead had similar thoughts.
“Having the opportunity to have a facility like this just makes you proud,” Snead said. “You want to put on a good meet for your neighboring schools. We had a little bit of wind today, but the meet went off smooth.”
Other area winners on the boys side were Chrisman’s Tanner Jolley in the 800 (2:10.77); South’s Lile Jackson in the 1,600 (4:56.91); Fort Osage’s Michael Reddick in the 3,200 (10:53.35); Van Horn’s DeVaughn Thomas in the 100 hurdles (16.75); Grain Valley’s Jaden Yarber in the 300 hurdles (41.89); Grain Valley’s 4x200 team of Pratt, Nate Booker, Tyler Luke and Schrader; Chrisman’s Wyatt Leutzinger in the pole vault (13-0); Van Horn’s Shaun Ross in the triple jump (40-11), Chrisman’s David Toese in the discus (141-7) and South’s Noah Meyer in the javelin (131-1).