The Class 4 sectional track meet played out on a gloomy, off-and-on rainy kind of day. Which seemed fitting for Lee’s Summit North’s boys.
The Broncos came to Excelsior Springs May 24 with high hopes of qualifying two relays for this week’s Class 4 state meet. Instead, they came home with three individual qualifiers and two doses of heartache.
A faulty baton exchange dashed the 800-meter relay teams hopes. But the cruelest moment of all came in the 1,600 relay with the Broncos’ Eric Hughey sprawled out on the track in the second turn.
Witnesses standing nearby said Hughey, who was running the Broncos’ third leg, got clipped from behind by a Lee’s Summit West runner, causing Hughey to stumble. As Hughey got back up, a Truman runner cut him off and he lost the baton.
By the time Hughey was up and running, North was out of contention to be one of the four qualifiers heading to Jefferson City.
Broncos boys track coach Eric Davis, who didn’t see the incident, said Hughey told him “he got clipped from behind, knocked down, somebody else came along after he got back up, cut him off and kicked the baton out of his hand.”
Davis issued a protest to the meet’s rules committee. But since the judge assigned to that curve and the committee members didn’t see what happened either, the race results were allowed to stand.
“I’m not going to say anything about it,” Davis said of the decision. “It’s just very unfortunate what happened. Obviously, our kids worked really hard all season. It stinks for them to have that taken away at the end.”
The season will go on for North’s Jalen Ford, who won the high jump at 6-foot-6 after clearing 6-10 in winning last week’s district meet. Matt Scaletty placed second in the 300-meter hurdles and Thomas Hawkins was third in the 400.
That offered Davis a little comfort after a hard-luck day.
“It’s not the way I would’ve planned it all out, definitely,” Davis said. “I just really feel bad for the kids because they just went out and tried to do the best they could.”
Lee’s Summit North girls coach Ed Brill worried early on about how his team would handle the wet weather. As it turned out, the Broncos did just fine, qualifying 10 girls in five individual events and three relays.
The Broncos did so well, in fact, they would have won the meet had there been a team competition. They scored a meet-best 80 points, with Lee’s Summit West right behind them with 70.
“We ran and performed really well, especially when we were worried about the conditions when we got up here,” Brill said. “Our girls were extremely prepared, really focused, mentally tough and they’ve done well.”
Rhema Taylor qualified in three events after running on the Broncos’ victorious 800 and 1,600 relays and taking second in the 400. Taylor, along with her sister, Kala, Lexi Rampetsreiter and Jenny Krause capped off their day by beating rival Lee’s Summit West in the 1,600 relay with a season-best time of 3 minutes, 55.18 seconds.
“She’s had a great day,” Brill said of Taylor, who qualified in the 400 and 800 relay last season. “She continues to get better and better every day.”
Aliyah Hakim, who finished third behind Rhema Taylor and West’s Jamie Newsome in the 400, will also run in the 800 relay. Imani Johnson, who led the Broncos girls basketball team to second place in Class 5 last season, is going in both shot put and discus.
Newsome, who also took second in the triple jump and ran on the runner-up 1,600 relay team, heads up a contingent of six Titans girls in five individual events and two relays. West’s Nicole Kallenberger won the girls pole vault and the 3,200 relay team was also victorious.
West’s boys will be represented by nine athletes in three individual events and two relays. Andrew Palmer won the 100 and ran on the Titans’ second-place 800 relay team, while Avery Carter won the shot put and qualified in the discus with a fourth place finish.
Lee’s Summit sophomore Zach Mitchell, who barely missed qualifying in the 400, made up for it by anchoring the Tigers’ 1,600 relay to a second place finish. Mitchell, brothers Julian and Christian Moreno and Trevor Fell finished in 3:22.50, and Mitchell said they could do better.
“Once we secured that we were going to state, we just wanted to get that,” Mitchell said. “We weren’t really going for a (personal record) today.
Lee’s Summit will also have Davian Hawkins in the triple jump.