Blue Springs, Grain Valley track and field make noise at district meet
Brock Wooderson is accustomed to running with the big dogs.
The Blue Springs senior is the reigning Examiner Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year and is making a legit push to be the 2021 track and field performer of the year following wins in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters and anchoring a solid first-place 3,200 relay team at the Class 5 District 7 meet Saturday at William Chrisman High School.
Grain Valley's Cole Keller is a big dog too, earning The Examiner's Football Offensive Player of the Year honor, first-team recognition on The Examiner's All-Area boys basketball team and playing a big role on the mound and at third base for the 20-win Eagles baseball team.
But this is the first year he has competed in two sports during the same season, and again he is proving his talent as he won the 400 (49.04) and anchored the 800 (school record 1 minute, 28.57 seconds) and 1,600 (3:22.81) relay teams at district.
While Lee's Summit West won the team competition with 126 points, coach Joe Cusack's Blue Springs Wildcats were second with 118 and first-year coach Erik Stone’s Grain Valley Eagles were third with 99.
Lee's Summit North (78) took fifth; Blue Springs South (64) was seventh; Truman (47) finished eighth; and the host William Chrisman Bears (25) were ninth.
"This was just a great meet," Cusack said after his team starred in relays, displayed its usual depth and used Wooderson's success to claim the runner-up spot. "I am so proud of Brock. You know, he and Kevin McClain are our team captains. We usually don't name captains until the end of the season, but they showed their leadership early on and earned to be named captain, and they have done a great job all season leading this team on the track and at practice."
Wooderson opened the meet showing his strong kick in the 3,200 relay as he was in the middle of the pack when he received the baton for his anchor leg.
"My natural instinct is to go out hard," said Wooderson, who teamed with Viger Romo, McClain and Keagan Enicks (8:09.83) to get the Wildcats off to a successful start. "I felt really confident down the stretch and was able to help us finish in first.
He won the 1,600 in 4:26.37 and the 3,200 in 9:39.30.
"I was really happy with my performance in both races," Wooderson said. "I feel like I'm making a good progression – improving and feeling stronger every week, every meet. I'm really looking forward to sectional next Friday (at Liberty North High School)."
McClain finished second in the 800 (1:58.68) to Grain Valley’s Collin Clemens (1:58.36). Blue Springs Bethel Glin took second in the shot put (15.22 meters) and Daniel Jantzen was second in the 300 hurdles (40.93 seconds).
Blue Springs coach: 'They have something going on out at Grain Valley'
While Cusack takes great pride in his Wildcats, he is always the first to congratulate a successful opponent.
When asked about the success of the Eagles, Cusack – who always lavishes praise on opponents, no matter what the meet – simply said, "Outstanding! They have something going on out at Grain Valley. They came to this meet and showed everyone what they are made of. They made this a very competitive meet."
Stone was actually named Grain Valley’s head coach last year, but the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So he is savoring this season.
"When we first found out who was going to be in our district, we were like, 'OK, let's see how we compete against some of the best competition in the state,’" he said. “And I'm thrilled how we have competed all season and what we did (at district). Going in, we felt like we could be anywhere between third and fifth or sixth, and everyone really rose to the occasion and we got just about everyone through to sectional we were hoping."
Keller, who is having the finest-all-around sports year in Grain Valley history, got a special shout-out from his coach.
"Cole hasn't run the 400 since middle school, and it's a tough race that takes a while to master – and he's mastered it this season," said Stone, an assistant on David Allie's football staff. "We all know what he did in football and basketball and he's having a great baseball season and we're lucky that he was able to compete today without a baseball game."
Stone paused for a moment, and added, "But you know what makes Cole so special, other than his God-given talent? He hates to lose more than he enjoys winning."
And that attitude has spread to his teammates.
"Coach Stone is 100 percent correct," Keller said. "I hate to lose and so do all the guys on our relay teams and our entire team. I didn't know if I was going to run track this year, but it gave me another opportunity to compete, and compete with some of my best friends.
"I enjoy that 400, but I love the relays. Man, watching our guys, then getting the baton in the anchor leg is just an amazing feeling."
Carter Day also enjoyed a big day for the Eagles with a leap of 1.90 meters to win the high jump. Logan Pratt took second in the 100 (11.02).
Other notable performances
It was a special day for William Chrisman senior Wyatt Leutzinger, who set a personal best in the pole vault with a first-place effort of 14 feet, 5 1/4 inches.
"The only way it would have been too good to be true was if I had broken the school record (15-6)," said Leutzinger, who won the boys event and then worked the girls event, placing the bar in place after each missed attempt. "This is my last meet at Chrisman and I want to savor every moment. I really don't want to leave today."
Bears sophomore Ethan Dias won the javelin with a throw of 47.40 meters.
"So proud of Wyatt, and all he has meant to our program," said Bears coach Tyler Rathke, who worked with activities director Greg McGhee and administrative members and coaches to pull off a flawless meet, despite the threat of rain, "and Ethan wins the javelin on just the fourth of fifth time he has thrown it in competition. He's going to be a special young man in our program."
While coach Marcus Summers' Truman team did not collect any first-place medals, Patrick Martin advanced in the 200 (fourth) and 400 (third); Josh Nunn (third) and Jack Getman (fourth) moved on in the 3,200; and Hayden Kunkle (second) and Sam Day (third) earned sectional berths in the pole vault. Aaron Gietzen moved on by taking fourth in the 110 hurdles (16.09).
"I'm real happy for all those guys," Summers said. "I think Josh and Jack inspired Hayden and Sam. Hayden had a PR of a foot and Sam six inches and Jack ran a 21 second PR. We're excited to see what they do next Friday."
Lee’s Summit North’s Donnell Dye won the 200 (22.26), and teammate Carson Clancy advanced in the 3,200 (second), 1,600 (second) and 800 (third).
Blue Springs South’s Jack Brickhouse advanced with a second-place showing in the high jump (1.90 meters), Quintin Van Wyk was third in the javelin (46.10 meters) and D’Avion Stokes was third in the triple jump (13.27).
Go to www.blacksquirreltiming.com for a complete list of all finishers.