Devon Richardson’s memorable performance at the Class 5 Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships in Columbia earned him a special seat on the ride home back to Lee’s Summit.
“He’s riding shotgun,” Lee’s Summit North boys track and field coach Eric Davis quipped after the lanky senior won the high jump with a Class 5 state meet record leap of 6 feet, 10 inches and won the triple jump with a distance of 48 feet, 3.5 inches.
The coach’s comment brought a smile to Richardson’s face.
“I always ride shotgun,” Richardson said, “that way I get to play the music all the way home.”
Richardson is accustomed to success. He was part of the Broncos’ third-place state basketball team and the track and field team that finished as the team state runner-up.
But what makes the two gold medal performances even more special is that they were going on at the same time.
The state meet usually takes two days but was condensed to one because of a tornado that tore through Jefferson City, forcing a move to Battle High School in Columbia.
“Devon’s not just super, he’s Superman,” added Davis, who has led the Broncos to a Class 5 state championship in 2018 and a second-place finish in 2019.
Richardson is also a unanimous selection as The Examiner’s Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
“What a life-changing honor,” Richardson said earlier this week, as he sat on the bleachers at Broncos Stadium, looking down on the track he has called his home the past four years. “Track has made such an important impact on my life. I can’t imagine my life without track, and to win this amazing award my senior year is such an amazing blessing.
“I want to thank my coaches, my teammates and my No. 1 fan – my mom, Loyana Dale, who was a great track athlete. But she never pushed me into track. She let me follow my own path, and she is so very special to me.”
Richardson won the high jump with a state meet record effort, which broke his state mark of 6-8 that he sat last year for the 2018 state champion Broncos.
“Breaking my own state record made that special, real special,” Richardson said. “I look back at state and I didn’t appreciate it all until long after it was done. Now, I fully appreciate all I accomplished.”
While competing in the high jump, he also competed in the triple jump – with two preliminary jumps and the winning jump of 48-3.5, his only attempt in the finals.
“I really wanted that triple jump, since I only got to jump once then go compete in the high jump,” said Richardson, who has signed with Pittsburg State University. “I wish we could have won state again (as a team), but the last three years we’ve been third, first and second, so I guess it’s been a good run.
“I wouldn’t want to compete on any other team for any other coach. This has been my family the past four years.
“Now, it’s on to Pitt State and new challenges. I know the guys on the team are all talented, and they’ll probably look down on me a little bit when I first get there, so I have a lot to prove – and I can’t wait. I never back away from a challenge.”