Just over a week ago, Donte Watkins was on the outside looking in at a loaded Class 4 sectional long jump field.



The Blue Springs senior was standing in fifth place when he turned in a memorable final jump that resulted in the gold medal being placed around his neck.

Just over a week ago, Donte Watkins was on the outside looking in at a loaded Class 4 sectional long jump field.

The Blue Springs senior was standing in fifth place when he turned in a memorable final jump that resulted in the gold medal being placed around his neck.

That effort led to another gold medal Saturday at the Missouri State High School Track and Field Championships at Lincoln University’s Dwight T. Reed Stadium and a second-straight second-place state team finish for the Wildcats, who totaled 40 points to finish behind only Hazelwood Central’s 62.

“There are 94 teams that would love to be in the position we are in today,” Wildcats coach Joe Cusack said Saturday afternoon as his team waited to receive its state trophy. “Today, it started with Donte and the 3,200 (relay) team and ended with Simon (Belete) and Stephen (Mugeche) in the 3,200 and our 4-by-400 team – and a lot of other guys did things in between those events.

“Donte was in fifth place at sectionals until his final jump. If he doesn’t advance to state, we don’t take home the second-place trophy. It’s funny how things work out. He came down here and really got it done – everyone did.”

Belete joined fellow seniors James Barnett and Alex Johnson and sophomore Mugeche for a third-place showing in the 3,200 relay – the first relay event of Saturday’s competition. Ironically, it coincided with Watkins’ big day in the long jump.

For a moment, he was tied for first place with Fort Osage junior Elijah McGill at 21-10.5, but Watkins was awarded the first-place medal when the judges went to a previous jump as the qualifier for the top award.

“It’s all just so amazing,” said Watkins, an all-state defensive back who will play football at Missouri Western in the fall. “I came so close to not even making it to state. Then, I win sectional on the last jump and win a jump-off today.

“It’s all so exciting. It’s just perfect. And the 10 points are going to help us toward that goal of bringing back a trophy to Blue Springs.”

Belete and Mugeche mirrored Watkins’ comments after finishing in fifth and third place, respectively, in the 3,200.

“I wanted to push it early,” said Belete, who got the race off to a fast start, “and then see what happened. I am so proud to be a part of this team and I am so proud of what Stephen did today. I wanted to finish higher to get more points for the team, but it was Stephen’s and Cole (Rockhold’s) race at the end, along with (Glendale’s Chris Mooneyham, who edged the Truman junior at the tape).”

Mugeche cut 13 seconds off his personal best to finish in third place in the 3,200 with a time of 9 minutes, 7.8 seconds. Belete finished in 9:16.74.

“It was a fast race from the start,” Mugeche said. “At about the 1,200 mark I tried to take the lead and I had it for a while, but give credit to Cole and (Mooneyham). They really pushed it at the end. I am happy to cut 13 seconds off my PR, and a race like this just gets me excited thinking about next year.”

Cusack was quick to credit assistant track coach and head cross country coach Frank Gallick for the success of the Wildcat distance runners.

“Frank’s the best,” Cusack said. “He gets these guys ready. We don’t do this today without our distance guys.”

Gallick was thrilled to see Barnett, Belete and Mugeche contribute to the second-place state showing.

“Stephen not only cut 13 seconds off his PR this year, but he cut 19 seconds off from what he ran last year,” Gallick said. “And James and Simon are the great senior leaders. They are just a great group of kids to work with.”

The 1,600 relay team of Antwon President, DaShaughn Terry, Johnson and Darrius Shepherd finished eighth in 3:23.97 to earn all-state honors.