Grain Valley tops Blue Springs for GVI girls track crown, boys finish third

Cody Thorn
The Examiner

The Grain Valley girls track and field team didn’t have as many first-place finishes as other teams, but had the depth to win its own Grain Valley Invitational Thursday.

The Eagles finished with 168 points and held a comfortable margin over runner-up Blue Springs, which was second with 141. Blue Springs South was fourth, followed by Fort Osage (42.5) in eighth place in the nine-team meet.

The meet also served as senior night for some, like Grain Valley’s JayOnna Perry, who had a good showing.

She won the 100-meter hurdles (16.25 seconds), was the runner-up in the 300 hurdles and was fifth in the long jump.

Grain Valley senior JayOnna Perry, center, clears the final hurdle to beat North Kansas City's Morgan Verdught, left, and Lee's Summit West's Kenzie Kennicut to the finish line for a win in the 100-meter hurdles at the Grain Valley Invitational Thursday. Perry's win helped the Eagles capture team girls team title as well.

“It was fun to win on your home territory; it is a great thing,” Perry said. “We were kind of nervous moving up (to Class 5) but we hold our own all the time.”

Freshman McKenah Sears set a new school record for Grain Valley, throwing the javelin 37.20 meters (122.05 feet), which broke the previous mark of 118-8 set by Karlie Romines in 2019.

“I’m really hyped up and still got the adrenaline going,” Sears said. “I didn’t expect (to break it) but I just grunted it out and threw it. When I threw it, I knew my previous throws were a couple meters (away) and I just felt it on that one. I’m humble and I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to throw.”

Grain Valley's Jordyn Weems, center, races past Raymore-Peculiar's Michaeya Richmond, left, and Lee's Summit West's Alivia Tolbert to finish second in the 100-meter dash at the Grain Valley Invitational Thursday. The host Eagles went on to claim the team title.

Teammate Riley Downey was second in the event and later in the evening, Sears ran the first leg of the throwers 4x100 relay that took first place as well. She was joined on that team by Ella Clyman – who talked her into trying javelin – Gabbi Keim and Jordan Huber.

The 4x200-meter relay team of Weems, Lily Ogle, Avery Huffman and Madison Rogers finished second (1:51.18), and Abby Castle was the runner-up in the pole vault by clearing 3.02 meters.

Blue Springs' Kayleigh Jenkins, center, reaches for the finish line to cap a victory in the 400-meter relay in the Grain Valley Invitational Thursday. Blue Springs took second in the team standings to host Grain Valley.

The Blue Springs girls had five first-place medals, winning the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.

Sophomores Kayleigh Jenkins and Olivia Dixon were on both of those teams for the Wildcats. The 4x100 (50.26) also featured Layla Martinez and McKenna Delany, while the 4x200 (1:46.97) had Arianna Calloway and Ariana Jackson.

Calloway, a sophomore, won the high jump in 1.72 meters – ahead of teammate Jenkins. Calloway added a second in the 200, just ahead of Martinez.

In the 800-meter run, Jackson won in 2:23.18, starting a 1-2 finish with teammate I’yana Foster. Jackson, a freshman, also was a runner-up in the long jump.

Blue Springs' Ariana Jackson, front, takes the handoff from teammate Arianna Callwoay in the 800-meter relay during the Grain Valley Invitational Thursday. Blue Springs won in 1:46.97 as the Wildcats finished second in the team standings to host Grain Valley.

Blue Springs basketball standout Jada Williams ran in only the 300-meter hurdles and picked up a win by edging Perry in a close race: 47.54 to 47.61. Williams made a late pass to rally for the win after the final hurdle.

“I ran against her last week and it was a battle all the way to the end,” Williams said. “She is a very good runner. That race is definitely for her. I think it will be a good battle all the way to state. She is phenomenal and has great sportsmanship and just battling like that and having good competition is always good. We are pretty cool off the track as well.”

Added Perry: “I gotta work on my finish. I didn’t hear her. That is the problem … I didn’t hear her. She is a good competition and I’m glad we get to race more. I can’t wait to see her again.”

The Wildcats also took third in the throwers 4x100 with Jenna Gilman, Jada Brown, Mackenzie Slaughter and Ashton Arndt.

Blue Springs South got a pair of wins from sophomore Caitlin Grover, who prevailed in the 3,200 meters and was part of the 4x800-meter relay to open the event.

Grover was joined by Amy Woolsey, McKenna Ledgerwood and Mya Trober and finished in 9:51.60 – an eight-second margin of victory over Blue Springs' team of Alli Bonham, Foster, Macy Baldwin and Gwyn Deterding. The Grain Valley team of Lexi Nicholson, Ella Casey, Valerie Holcomb and Annalynn Earley took third.

In the two-mile race, Grover finished in 11:48.75 and Woolsey was right behind her.

Blue Springs South's Mya Trober, left, and Lee's Summit West's Makayla Clark set the pace in the 1,600 meters during the Grain Valley Invitational Thursday. Clark, with a time of 4 minutes, 57.47 seconds, edged Trober (5:00.01) for win. Those are the top two times in the state in that event this season.

The Jaguars added a runner-up finish from Trober in the 1,600-meter run, whose time of 5:00.01 is now the second best in the state in Class 5 this season. However, she came in second behind Lee’s Summit West’s Makayla Clark, who blazed the course in her first time running the event this year in 4:57.74 – now the fastest time in Class 5 this season. Blue Springs’ Abby Brackenbury finished third.

Fort Osage senior Kendra Siefker claimed second in the both the shot put (11.06 meters) and discus (34.56) to lead the Indians.

Grain Valley boys take third in home meet

Lee’s Summit West ran away with the boys crown with 146 points, but Blue Springs South (128.5) won a battle for second by beating Grain Valley (118) by 10.5 points.

South took second despite having just one first-place finish, but a handful of seconds and thirds helped rack up points.

D’Avion Stokes claimed South’s lone win in the triple jump with a leap of 13.29 meters.

Caleb Calandro was the runner-up in the pole vault, winning a tiebreaker with Fort Osage’s Zachary Wittman as each cleared 3.18 meters.

In the 200-meter dash, Bryce Reeves was second (23.27) and Malachi Howard (23.81) placed third despite running in different heats. Howard, a sophomore, ran in the second heat and won it, while Reeves, another sophomore, was second in the third heat – coming in behind Rockhurst’s Kenechukwu Okpareke.

Luke Fournier was the runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles, while Zaeon Bausby took third in the 800. The Jaguars’ thrower relay team of Noah Macias, Dallion Sauni, Quintin Van Wyk and Alex Kochman took third.

Grain Valley closed the home meet by winning the throwers relay and the 4x400-meter relay. Josh McAnerney, Aidan Winter, Owen Perkins and Shane Gallagher won in 51.20. The 4x400 team then won the final race of the day in 3:26.41 – by holding off Lee’s Summit West and Rockhurst at the end thanks to the final dash by senior four-sport athlete Cole Keller.

Grain Valley senior Cole Keller finishes off a win in the 1,600-meter (4x400) relay in the Grain Valley Invitational Thursday.

“That was huge for us,” Keller said of the win after following Keagan Hart, Carter Vrlenich and Logan Pratt. “We didn’t really run the best 4-by-2 and we talked about how we wanted to end it on good note and leave here with a win – especially avenging the 4-by-200 was very good.”

That same quartet ran in the 4x200 and lost to Lee’s Summit West by a second and Keller was both audibly and visibly frustrated with the close loss.

The Eagles had two individual wins. Senior Carter Day won a tiebreaker over Fort Osage’s Arthur Wyatt to win the high jump at 1.87 meters. Day cleared the height in his only attempt, while Wyatt did so on his second. Neither cleared 1.92.

“It was great to do it at the home field,” Day said. “Get a new PR and get it by one inch. I knew there would be great competition here and I would have to push myself to get first.”

Grain Valley senior Collin Clemens won the 800 in 2:01.29 – nearly three seconds ahead of Lee’s Summit West’s Jax Whaley.

Pratt (100), Gallagher (javelin) and Eric Rhymes (triple jump) and Shane Gallagher (javelin) were each runners-up.