A dropped baton and hyperextended knee could have kept many teams from accomplishing their goal at the Suburban Big Six Track and Field Championships Friday at Lee’s Summit North High School.
But Eric Davis’ Lee’s Summit North boys track and field team has so much depth and talent that those two mishaps were barely noticed as the Broncos scored 148 points to put an end to Blue Springs’ impressive run of seven conference titles in a row.
Following the Broncos were Lee’s Summit West (125), Blue Springs (92), Raymore-Peculiar (81), Park Hill (69) and Blue Springs South (68).
The equally talented Lee’s Summit West girls rolled to a conference championship with 166 points, followed by Lee’s Summit North (100), Blue Springs (93.3), Park Hill (92), Raymore-Peculiar (57) and Blue Springs South (43.3).
A dropped baton in a relay event and Christian Carter’s slightly hyperextended knee following wins in the long jump and triple jump kept the Broncos from putting a team in the 4x400-meter relay event, but they still rolled to a conference crown.
“It’s been a while,” said Davis, as he unwrapped the conference championship plaque to share with his team. “Blue Springs is a great team, and to end their streak, share it with our guys and do it on our home track really makes this a special night.”
Carter – the quarterback on the most successful Broncos football team in school history and a guard on the third-place state basketball team – said he hopes Friday is the start of a special postseason run for the 2018 state champion Broncos.
“We won state last year when most of us were juniors, and it’s so important to come back as seniors and make another big run at a state title,” said Carter, who sent personal bests in the long jump (24 feet, 3.75 inches) and the triple jump (43-3.5), but watched much of the meet on crutches after suffering that hyperextended knee.
“On the long jump, I kind of slid and hyperextended my knee, but I’ll be fine next week. I’m a little disappointed because I really wanted to compete against that great Blue Springs 4x400 team, but I can’t be too disappointed since we won conference. And it’s been a long time since we won conference. I hope this is the start of something big for our team leading up to state.”
North winners were Keyon Mozee, 100 (10.74 seconds); Nyles Thomas, 200 (21.72); and Devon Richardson, high jump (6-5).
• Gabe McClain and Matt Marzolf did all they could to help the Wildcats keep their streak alive as McClain won three gold medals – 1,600 (4.25.81), 800 (1:57.48) and was part of the winning 1,600 relay; while Marzolf won the 400 (49.43) and anchored the winning 1,600 relay team.
“It’s my last conference meet, and it feels good to help the team by winning the 800 and 1,600 and being part of the 4x400 relay team, but it’s tough to see our conference winning streak come to an end,” said McClain, The Examiner’s 2018 Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. “Seven years is a long time and we’ve been a part of so much success with this great program. It’s going to be fun to see what the young guys on team do in the future to start another conference winning streak.”
Added Marzolf: “I’m really happy with the way I ran tonight, especially since it’s my last conference meet. It’s tough for the streak to end, but we have to keep working hard and not let that affect the way we train and work to get ready for district next week.”
Wildcats coach Joe Cusack was gracious in his praise of Davis’ Broncos.
“They have a great team – they proved it at state last year and proved it here at North tonight,” Cusack said. “I am so proud of our guys tonight.
“Gabe and Matt showed why they are the leaders of this team. They are our meat-and-potato guys – you know what to expect from them every meet. They are great leaders and great young men.”
Blue Springs’ 400 relay team (Prince Griffin, Celestino Almeida, Stefan Black and Jaxsen Clay, 43.08) and the 1,600 team, which included Celestino and Griffin, (3:23.60) also brought home gold medals.
• One of the meet’s most dramatic highlights came when Blue Springs’ Tessa Valdivia defeated Lee’s Summit West’s Murnicks 5:05.69 to 5:06.78 in the 1,600.
Murnicks’ seed time of 4:59.97 was 14 seconds faster than Valdivia’s seed.
“Ginger is great, the best, I thought she was unbeatable and I was able to beat her tonight,” said a surprised and joyous Valdivia, who was The Examiner’s Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2018.
“I thought Ginger was perfect, but I was able to stay close and I had this kick at the end and was able to edge her at the end. I am so surprised – I mean, I am really surprised and just so happy.
“I am running well now and have never been more confident heading into a race than I was tonight. In the past, I always ran against Tori (Findley, one of the premier runners in the history of Blue Springs South and the metro area who is now at the University of Missouri) so this is my first conference championship and it is so special.”
Blue Springs also had two relay champions in the 800 (Niya Harris, Brooke Niemann, Ty’Le Whitmill and Talie Pfeifer, 1:47.08) and 1,600 (the same four runners, 4:05.08). Aisha Gaither won the 100 hurdles (15.76).
“I’m so proud of all my girls, they really came to compete tonight,” Wildcats coach Jennifer Reeder said.
• Blue Springs South’s Cori Davis won the 300 hurdles (45.79).