Samantha Nightingale was beside herself with joy.

Samantha Nightingale was beside herself with joy.
“I just heard I broke five minutes in the 1,600,” the Blue Springs South sophomore said after posing for an all-state team photo. “I heard the top seven girls all broke five minutes. Isn’t that unbelievable?”
It was.
And yes, it did happen at Friday’s Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships at Lincoln University’s Dwight T. Reed Stadium in the state capitol.
Nightingale ran the first sub-five minute mile (1,600 meters) in her short but brilliant career, passing four runners in the final 100 yards to finish in fourth place with a time of 4 minutes, 58.52 seconds.
“That gives me another school record,” she said, as many of her friends and teammates waved and called to her from the grandstand after she earned another all-state honor. “I broke my own school record by four seconds!
“This is just too exciting.”
Liga Blyholder, Lee’s Summit West’s standout senior distance runner, topped the pack with a time of 4:52. The eighth-place runner finished at 5 minutes even.
“An amazing, amazing race,” Blue Springs South distance coach Ryan Unruh said as he gave Nightingale a congratulatory hug. “This is how smart I am. I told Sam to hold on with 200 (meters) to go in the race. She was in a spot where she was going to medal, but she wasn’t happy with seventh place.
“So she starts that kick that we’ve seen so many times this season, and passes four runners to get fourth place. And she was awfully close to getting third. She was kind of boxed in early, and I was concerned, but once Blyholder started to spread the pack, things opened up for Sam.”
Nightingale showed some scratches she received on the side and back of her legs, while running in the middle of the pack.
“It was tough, being boxed in by all those girls,” Nightingale said, sporting an ear-to-ear smile. “But I’m tough. I can take it. Coach likes to tell me I’m a fighter. And I am – I’m never going to give up.”
On a day that mostly featured preliminary events, Nightingale brought home the fourth-place medal and Lee’s Summit North’s Sandra Hampton finished seventh in the shot put with a personal best throw of 39-1.
“I can’t complain about the personal best,” Hampton said, “but I was hoping for a better finish.”
She will throw the discus Saturday, and that is considered her top event. She won both the shot and the discus at the Suburban Big Seven conference meet to win the Rusty Hodge Award, given to the top point producer in the shot and discus in memory of the late Blue Springs South track coach.
When asked if throwing on Friday would help calm her nerves on Saturday, she said, “New day, new event, new nerves to deal with. I’m confident in the discus, but I always get nervous before I throw.”
William Chrisman’s Andrea Locke finished 10th in the triple jump. In the girls shot put, Fort Osage’s Elaine McAlister was 10th and Blue Springs’ Monet Jackson finished 13th. Truman’s Katie Willits tied for 13th in the high jump.
Blue Springs earned a pair of berths in Saturday’s finals. Sophomore Shannon Danaher claimed the No. 8 spot in the 800 with a time of 2:19.56. The 400 relay team of Ronay Coleman, Brittany Thomas, Darian Grayson and Bria Taylor finished Friday’s prelims with the No. 5 time of 49.07.
Lee’s Summit North dominated the hurdles preliminaries. Remy Abrought (14.64) and Madison Smith (14.85) grabbed the top two times in the 100 high hurdles, while Smith made the 300 hurdles finals with the No. 3 time of 44.32.