Nieka Wheeler has a plan to do something she couldn’t quite accomplish on the track last season as a freshman.

Nieka Wheeler has a plan to do something she couldn’t quite accomplish on the track last season as a freshman.

The goal for the William Chrisman sophomore is to qualify for the state meet in Jefferson City after coming up just short a year ago in the 100-meter dash, in which she finished in fifth place at the Class 4 sectional meet. The top four finishers in sectionals advance to state.

“I was one spot away from getting to go to state,” Wheeler said. “I want to actually get to state this year. Last year I was a little bit shy, and I didn’t really get into it has much has I have this year. Like I want to try hard; that’s one of my goals – to make it to state.”

The Examiner’s first-team All-Area selection in the event a year ago, Wheeler was also a threat in the 200 and in the long jump, an event Wheeler isn’t too keen on.

“She’s got a lot of talent built up into that body,” said Bears coach Annie Dudek. “You can ask her pretty much to do anything, and she’ll do it. That’s the best part. She (jumped) a little bit for us last year, and she kind of hated it, I think, because it was new to her. She said she’ll try it again. So we’ll see.”

Wheeler added: “This year I’ve been practicing more because last year I didn’t like the long jump as much. I know I’m good at jumping so this year I’m geeked about getting better at it and working on it. Running comes naturally but jumping is kind of difficult.”

Wheeler will also run on the Bears’ 400- and 800-meter relay teams, which means she could be in for a breakout sophomore campaign.

“Last year I really didn’t understand how important track is,” Wheeler said. “But I’ve figured out how I hate losing. So, this year that’s what’s stuck in my head; how to get better and faster and how my technique can be better.”