Unselfish Eagles capture fourth place at Bill Summa Invitational
The only way the 2021 Bill Summa Invitational could have been more memorable for first-year Grain Valley track and field coach Erik Stone would have been if his Eagles had walked away with the top prize.
But that might not have topped the gritty, gutsy performances of the Eagles, who finished in fourth place with a total of 63 points.
Liberty North won the event with 103 points, followed by Lee's Summit West (83) and Blue Springs South (65). Truman (21) finished 12th and the host William Chrisman Bears (18) were 13th in the 16-team boys field.
Logan Pratt tied Mason Rogers' Grain Valley school record with a time of 10.72 seconds to win the 100 meters, edging Blue Springs South’s Bryce Reeves (10.83). And it took a meet-record time of 21.85 seconds by Rockhurt's Erick Hill in the 200 to edge Pratt, who finished in 22.43, the sixth best time in the 59-year history of the meet.
Pratt was scheduled to run in the 1,600 relay, the crowd-pleasing event that ends every prep track meet, but tweaked a hamstring, so a replacement was needed.
"This is an amazing story," Stone said as Keagan Hart and Cole Keller left Grain Valley High School following a 10-0, five-inning win over William Chrisman to take their roles in the 1,600 relay event.
"The 4-by-4 is usually Hart, Carter Vrlenich, Keller and Pratt, but Collin Clemens took his spot in the anchor leg, after competing in the 3,200 relay and the 3,200.
"For a kid to compete in the 4-by-4 after running the 4-by-8 relay and the 3,200 is unheard of, but Collin volunteered. That's the kind of kid he is."
Keller backed that comment.
"Collin is a team-first guy – all he cares about is the team," said Keller, whose third leg put the Eagles in first place after he collected two base hits for the Eagles baseball team. "Tonight was amazing. We all wanted to win the 4-by-4, but now all I'm going to remember is Collin stepping up and taking one for the team.
"No one else would do what he did. I don't know how he could walk after the 4-by-8 relay and 3,200."
Hart, who placed fifth in the 400 and ran the opening leg of the 1,600 relay also praised his teammate.
"I was gassed in the 400 after playing baseball, and Collin comes back and runs the relay after opening the meet with a relay and running the 3,200. I don't know how he did it," said Hart, who singled and walked for the Eagles baseball team. "I've never been as proud of a guy on our team."
Clemens appreciated his teammates' support.
"I wish I could have held the lead, but it was a tough race," said Clemens, who set a personal best in the 3,200 10:21.11 (14th place). "I felt okay warming up, but I didn't have enough to help us get first - but the guys are so proud of me for taking Logan's spot after he got hurt, and that means more to me than a first-place medal."
Grain Valley’s Jordan Jarman and Carter Day finished 2-3 in the high jump at 1.85 meters, the same as winner Desire Tonye Nyemeck of Park Hill but in more attempts.
In addition to Reeves’ second-place finish, Alexander Jackson finished as the runner-up in the 1,600 (4:30.73) to help lead Blue Springs South. South’s Drew Penniston took third in the shot put with a throw of 12.94 meters and fourth in the discus (42.57) and Davion Stokes was third in the triple jump at 12.80.
Wyatt Leutzinger claimed second in the pole vault with a height of 4.30 meters to lead Chrisman.
For all the times of area athletes, please visit www.blacksquirreltiming.com.