Chrisman High School's Jacque David happy to return to Bill Summa Invitational

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

Long after the Grain Valley High School girls had pulled off a win in one of the most exciting finishes of the 2021 Bill Summa Invitational, event organizer and William Chrisman High School boys and girls track coach Tyler Rathke finished picking up trash on Norman James Field, took off his shoes and sat on the 50-yard line.

“It was a long night,” he said, smiling, “and man, was it ever worth all the work we put into it. I think this one will be remembered for a while.”

The field included 20 girls teams and 16 boys teams from across the state and Kansas.

“I don’t know if you could find a better meet anywhere – except maybe state,” said first-year Grain Valley boys coach Erik Stone. “You know if Tyler is going to be involved in something, it’s going to be first class.’

One of the most special moments of the meet for Rathke came when Jacque David, who missed all of her junior year to an ACL injury – which was followed by the COVID-19 shutdown – won the discus (40.02 meters) and was second in the shot put (13.38).

It was the second time she has competed this season after winning each event last week at the Rusty Hodge Invitational at Blue Springs South.

“We see things from Jacque in practice that we haven’t seen in meets – the best is still coming,” Rathke said. “We’re just so happy to have her back. Last year was tough on everyone. She tore her ACL in basketball, then we all lost the spring season.

“Today is really one of the first times I’ve felt like we’re at a normal event. Thanks to the district and our school administration for letting us have this meet. Everyone seemed to have a great time.”

David might be at the top of the list.

As she sat in the press box and looked at the beehive of activity that ran from the track, to the vaulting, jumping, shot, discus and javelin areas, she smiled.

Grain Valley's JayOnna Perry, center, competes in the 300-meter low hurdles in the Bill Summa Relays Friday at William Chrisman High School.

“I can’t help but smile,” David said. “Do you realize how long it’s been since I’ve competed here at the Bill Summa Invitational? I was a sophomore and I finished second in the shot and discus.

“It seems like such a long time ago. But now I’m back, and I’m healthy and I just want to get better and better every week. I’d like to have won both events, but I’ll take first in the discus and second in the shot. That gives me something to work for.”

The Grain Valley girls were the top area team, as they scored 69.5 points to finish fourth. Columbia Rock Bridge (109) took the title, followed by St. Teresa’s Academy (87.5) and Lee’s Summit West (81).

Chrisman (30) finished 10th, Lee’s Summit North (25.5) was 11th, Fort Osage (3) was 19th and Truman (2) 20th.

The meet began with a reverse play on what Cole Keller and Keagan Hart did for the Grain Valley boys team (please see related story) as they played a baseball game, then competed in the track and field meet.

Grain Valley's Abby Castle clears the bar while competing in the pole vault in the Bill Summa Relays Friday at William Chrisman High School.

More:Unselfish Eagles capture fourth place at Bill Summa Invitational

The Eagles’ Val Holcomb and Lexie Nicholson opened the meet by competing in the 3,200-meter relay, then returned to Peve Stadium in Blue Springs to play for the Eagles soccer team, which defeated host Blue Springs 6-2.

“The kids at Grain Valley are the best – just the best,” said Eagles cross country and distance coach Nick Small. “Nothing the kids do out here surprises me. I am so proud of them and so honored to be coaching them.

“They did that for the girls and Cole and Keagan played baseball and then came over for their events. That’s what makes Grain Valley so special.”

The Grain Valley girls saved the best for last as Avery Huffman, Maddie Rogers, Emma Jane Ogle and Jordyn Weems won the 1,600 relay, with Weems edging Lee’s Summit North’s Raina Baker at the finish line – 4 minutes, 13.39 seconds to 4:13.90.

Grain Valley's Jordyn Weems, left, and Maddie Rogers race side by side in the 100-meter dash in the Bill Summa Relays Friday at William Chrisman High School.

“I knew the girl who was coming up behind me because (coach Brian) Winkler was yelling, ‘Baker’s coming up behind you!’” said Weems, a substitute for anchor JayOnna Perry, who was scratched from the race.

“The last time I ran the anchor of a 4-by-4 I was in eighth grade, but I felt comfortable and I had the support of all my teammates and all my coaches and everyone on the team.

“I just couldn’t let her pass me.”

Ironically, the members of the team include Huffman, a member of The Examiner’s All-Area softball team; Ogle, who plays softball and basketball; and Rogers, a diver. Weems also plays basketball.

“I guess we like to keep busy,” said Weems, who also took sixth in the 100 (13.04). “I just know I love the girls on this relay team. This was a great way to end the night.”

Perry finished second in both the 100 high hurdles (16.04) and 300 low hurdles (49.03), Huffman finished fourth in the 400 (1:01.56), Jordan Huber was fourth in discus (34.69 meters) and Ella Casey was fifth in the 3,200 (12:20.73) for the Eagles.

Lee’s Summit North’s Annica Valmassei (3.30 meters) and Hannah Wilhite (3.15) finished 2-3 in the pole vault to lead the Broncos.

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William Chrisman senior Jolee Spinks competes in the long jump in the Bill Summa Relays Friday at William Chrisman High School.