BHS’ Sharp repeats as state cinders champ, triple medalist

Breaks school records in 1,600 win, 3,200 second; Chrisman gleans fifth in discus

Paul Sturm
Linn County Leader
Passing by a sign that denotes an event she says she considers "home," Brookfield High School junior Alexandra "Alex" Sharp has the third-lap lead in the 1,600-meters run during the Missouri Class 2 girls' track-and-field championships at Jefferson City Friday, May 21. Sharp repeated as state champion of the race and also won three state medals, just as she did in 2019.
  • Alexandra "Alex" Sharp wins 1,600-meters run, is second in 3,200, sixth in 800 at state track meet
  • Chrisman takes fifth-place medal in discus throw

By PAUL STURM, LCL Sports Editor

Not that anything suggested a reason to doubt her, but Alexandra “Alex” Sharp of the Brookfield High School Lady Bulldogs closed her junior season – unfortunately, due to the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago, only her second season of prep track-and-field competition – in efficient, championship, and record style last Friday.

The defending Class 2 state champion in the girls’ 1,600-meters run – an event, she noted, she’d learned earlier in the day she’s never lost in high school-season competition – did not just repeat that title (albeit two years removed) by a comfortable 5-1/2-seconds margin, but eclipsed the BHS record she’d chased all year with a 5:16.64.

“I’ve been seconds away time and time again this whole season,” she shared with interviewers after the win, which came several hours after she’d repeated as runnerup in the 3,200, also in a school-record clocking of 11:30.43.

“… To finally be able to break that (1,600 record) is kind of surreal.”

While the Brookfield ace, like many distance runners, normally self-monitors her lap times during races, she doesn’t at state-level competitions.

“I always know I’m capable of running a fast time (at state, due to the competition), so I just like to make this a day where I take my (pace-monitoring) watch off and I don’t really focus on (my) time (during the race) and just kind of think about how I feel as I’m running and really work to push myself and gain those extra seconds,” she explained.

Sharp wrapped up her day with a third medal, finishing sixth in the 800-meters run.

The others in the “Brookfield blue” state-meet contingent had mixed outcomes to their high-level achievement of being at state.

New Brookfield High School graduate Zoey Chrisman stands on the Missouri Class 2 girls' track-and-field championships medals stand after receiving her fifth-place medal for her performance in the discus throw Friday, May 21. Chrisman also competed in the shot put.

Newly-graduated Zoey Chrisman earned a medal – fifth place in the discus throw with a best toss of 111’8” (34.05 meters) on her second of four attempts  – out of her two throwing events, but none of the other entries – Dawson Baker in the javelin throw, the girls’ 400-meters relay unit, and Chrisman in the shot put – were able to battle into the top eight in those events.

Baker’s best throw of the javelin was the first of his four, traveling 140’4” (42.77m). That placed him 10th and was a bit more than four feet shy of claiming eighth.

Chrisman’s longest heave of the shot put came on her last try, going 33’11-1/4” (10.34m), also leaving her 10th. She was just over a half-foot out of the medalist ranks.

Apparently due to being about a stride outside of the exchange zone on the final handoff, the Lady Bulldogs’ 400-meters relay unit was disqualified and not listed with an official time.

With COVID-19-related measures and factors shifting this year’s state track-and-field competitions to single-day-format meets for each classification, rather than a 2-days meet for a pair of classes, the state competition presented a challenge something like a regular-season meet for athletes running in two or more of the longer races, but with a couple of noteworthy caveats – on positive and one negative.

To ease the physical stress on those like Sharp who fit that bill, the 3,200-meters run – normally held on the opposite day from the 800 and 1,600 in the 2-days format – was shifted in the schedule from the second-to-last event to an hour prior to the normal start of track competition. That allowed more recovery time for participants in it who also were in other races. However, having to run against top-drawer opposition from around the state probably more than balanced off the rearranged schedule.

“I treated it like a normal meet,” shared Sharp. “I made sure, expecially after the (3,200), that I went and found a nice spot to put my legs up and get the lactic acid out (of her muscles) and get a massage done and ‘rollers’ and all that to try to refresh myself.

“It worked really well.”

After her rest, Sharp strode comfortably in second or third place the first of her four trips around the Dennis and Roberta Licklider Track Complex at Adkins Stadium on the Jefferson City High School campus in the mid-meet 1,600.

Going around the east (second) curve on the second lap, she moved into the lead, posting a midway time of 2:37.29. She doubled her lead to just over two seconds after three laps and handily held off runnerup Adrien Martens of Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran’s bid for a finishing kick to prevail by nearly 4-1/2 seconds.

“State’s kind of like a magical place for me,” she told reporters. “I always seem to ‘PR’ by quite a bit here, just because being with all these competitive, amazing runners and the environment itself kind of gives you extra adrenaline, I feel like.”

As for the 1,600 “winning streak” she kept intact, she quipped, “We’ll see how far we can take it.”

Finishing second in the 3,200 to start the day had a different feel afterward than her 2019 runnerup showing did for a couple of reasons.

As a freshman, she and a competitor dueled right to the finish line before the opponent’s more-forward lean left Sharp as runnerup by less than a tenth of a second as electronically timed. This time, the margin of separation was seven seconds-plus after trailing the champion from Smithton each of the last seven laps of the 8-laps race.

The other aspect mitigating any disappointment was Sharp lowering her own school record by about five seconds.

“My freshman year, I lost the 3,200 by 0.09 seconds – it was like a ‘lean’ finish and really cool,” she recalled Friday afternoon.

“… To be able to break both of our times that year and know, ‘Hey, if I’d run this my freshman year, I would have won,’ feels pretty good.”

BHS distance-running whiz Sharp, also twice a state medalist in cross country running and third in the Class 2 meet last November, capped her day with the 800 medal, running a 2:25.34.

“I would definitely like the 800 (time) to have been faster,” Sharp self-critiqued. “My goal, coming to state, is always to ‘PR’ or win and this was definitely not a ‘PR,’ but I can’t be too hard on myself because I ‘PR’d’ in my other two events and I’m very proud of those.”

With her junior year “in the books,” both literally and figuratively, Sharp noted that, for both personal and competitive reasons, she envisions an extremely-exciting senior year beyond just trying to add her to stellar collection of running achievements.

The reason, “Alex” noted, is “Sam,” more formally Samantha, her younger sister and a freshman-to-be at BHS in 2021-22.

“Next year is going to be really special,” Sharp exclaimed, describing her younger sibling as “insanely fast. I guarantee she’ll break all of my records by the time she graduates.

“She is so quick.”

However, like a true competitor, Sharp intimated she’s not ready to relinquish being “top ’Dog” without a battle.

“I think both of us will see a big drop in our times next year, racing each other every meet,” she shared with interviewers following her 1,600 win.

“I’m excited to see how much time my ‘mile’ (1,600) time drops.”