County schools sending 14 state track, field entries this week

BHS in seven events, Marceline five, LCHS, Meadville one each

As reported to C-T

MONROE CITY — Paced, as anticipated, by a Brookfield defending state champion’s trio of sectional-meet performances and a Marceline defending state champ’s perfunctory claiming of her best event last Saturday, the four Linn County high schools will have a total of 14 entries in this week’s state track-and-field championships at Jefferson City.

Competing in Friday’s Class 2 meet at the Dennis and Roberta Licklider Track Complex in and around Jefferson City High School’s Adkins Stadium will be a half-dozen Brookfield entries involving seven athletes and a handful of Marceline entries involving seven competitors.

The following day at the same site, Meadville and Linn County R-1 each will have one athlete – Conner Fletcher for MHS and Morgan Livingston for LCHS – participating in one Class 1 state-meet event.

Of the 14 events involving Linn countians – there is no overlap of multiple county students in the same event, two will be appearing as sectional champions of three events.

That subset, as well as the overall county contingent, is topped by junior Alexandra “Alex” Sharp of Brookfield and Marceline 11th grader Ramzee Bruner.

Middle- and long-distance running phenom Sharp, Class 2 state queen of the 1,600-meters run as a freshman before the COVID-19 pandemic prevented her from having a chance to repeat a year ago, won both that race and the 3,200 by sizable margins last Saturday and was runnerup in the 800.

She also ran all three of those races at state in 2019, finishing second in the 3,200 and fourth in the 800 along with her win in the 1,600. If healthy, she likely rates as the favorite in the two longer runs this week.

At Monroe City last weekend, she claimed the 1,600 in 5:26.82 and the 3,200 in 12:06.96. She was second in the 800 by about three seconds in 2:22.3.

Co-headliner in the county contingent is Bruner, who also earned a state crown as a freshman in 2019 when she won the high jump at 5’5”.

She’ll be in that event again Friday and figure as a threat to repeat after cutting off her competition in it at sectional after clinching the win at 4’9-3/4” (1.47 meters).

Like Sharp, she’ll be in multiple state events after also capturing second place in last Saturday’s triple jump, sailing 33’9-1/4” (10.29m). She missed winning it by two inches.

Sharp will be joined on the trip to the state’s capitol city by throwers and new BHS graduates Zoey Chrisman and Dawson Baker and the girls' 400-meters relay team.

Chrisman, a non-medalist in the 2019 state-meet shot put, will be back again after earning fourth in that event at sectional with a best toss of 34’1-1/2” (10.4m). She also will take part in the discus throw after flinging it 107’ at Monroe City, giving her third place.

Baker will be the only Bulldogs eligible for state (BHS had only three sectional participants). He sailed the javelin 134’7-1/2” (41.02m) last Saturday, only getting fourth place, but being a comfortable 15-plus feet ahead of the fifth-place distance.

The Lady Bulldogs' 400-meters relay quartet of senior Avery Thompson, junior Rylan Head, sophomore Ella Daugherity, and freshman Maddie Wilbeck took fourth at sectional in 52,85 seconds.

That earned BHS a return trip to state in the event. The 2019 group, which included Head and Thompson, started the 4x100 race there, but ran into problems and was not able to finish, according to records listed online.

Bruner’s MHS companions at Jeff City all will be Lady Tigers.

Junior Sarah Kussman advanced in the 100-meters high hurdles, running a distant second at sectional in 16.58 seconds. The winner – a senior from north St. Louis’ STEAM Academy (formerly Berkeley: McCluer South) – torched the track in 14.63, figuring to make her a top contender for the state title.

The same STEAM scorcher won the 300-meters low hurdles in 44.3 with Marceline freshman Payton Weese in her wake. Weese did advance, though, finishing third in 48.51.

Completing MHS’ competitors at state will be the 800-meters relay group of junior anchor Gracey Jordan, sophomore leadoff runner Cassi Rodgers, and freshmen Lucy Moseley and Weese in between.

That unit took second at sectional in 1:51.53, over nine seconds behind the STEAM quartet.

The only Marceline boy eligible to compete at sectional – freshman Caleb Stallo in the 110-meters high hurdles – barely missed advancing. He finished fifth in 17.1 seconds, .07 behind the last qualifier.

As noted previously, sending one athlete each in a single event to the Class 1 state meet Saturday will be Meadville and Linn County R-1.

Meadville will have senior Fletcher in the javelin throw after winning that event at sectional with a top throw of 141’10”.

Fletcher medaled in the 2019 state meet, but in a different event. He took eighth in the triple jump as sophomore and hoped to be involved again, but managed only sixth place at sectional. He also was sixth in the sectional 400-meters dash.

LCHS will send sophomore Livingston in the girls’ high jump after she placed second this past Saturday at a height of 5’1/4”.

In order to limit crowd sizes – both in terms of athletes and fans, the Missouri State High School Activities Association this year has opted to execute each of its expanded five classifications for the sport in single-day state events, rather than multiple classes across two days.

That will require the meets to be conducted much like regular-season events, in that, rather than having – under the customary 2-days approach – preliminary heats in all races of less than 800 meters with the top eight times advancing to a second-day final race, every race, regardless of length, will be run against the clock.

Rather, in the races of less than 800 meters, there will be two sections run consecutively with the eight fastest finishers earning state medals. Information on the MSHSAA website and in its manual for track-and-field posted there is not clear whether the two sections of those races will be grouped as a “fast” section – eight fastest qualifiers, regardless of district finish – and a “slow” one with the eight slower qualifiers or if the 16 will be “seeded” into the two sections with the fastest overall qualifier in one section, the second- and third-fastest in the other, and alternating between sections until all 16 are slotted.