Morgan Smith didn’t let a damp and dreary day get her down. Quite the opposite, actually.
While others grumbled about the on-again, off-again rain and soggy conditions at the Class 3 and 4 sectional track meets May 24 at Excelsior Springs, the Raymore-Peculiar senior hurdler reveled in them. Which partly explains why Smith is back in Jefferson City this weekend in three events.
Smith won both the Class 4 girls 100- and 300-meter hurdle races at the meet, from which the top four finishers in each event advanced on to state. And she also anchored the Panthers’ 1,600 relay team to a third-place finish.
“I love running in the rain,” Smith said. “It’s a beautiful day. Everybody always told me to get a fast-pitch song in my head when I run, and the rain makes it easier to stay to that beat.”
Smith will defend the 300 hurdles title she won last year after winning her sectional race in 43.24 seconds. She won the 100 hurdles in a personal-best 14.82 seconds and looks to improve on her third-place finish in that event at state last year.
“I want to win both the titles so I’m pushing toward it,” Smith said. “I have faith in my training and my coaches to get me that far. They know where I want to be and they’re pushing me toward that.”
Smith teamed up with Donatta Young, Latiana Russell and Kami Tabor to run a 3:59.31 time in the 1,600 relay that was bested only by Lee’s Summit North and Lee’s Summit West, which have the third- and second-fastest times in Missouri in that race this year. Ray-Pec also qualified Kiley Deain with a second-place finish in the girls 3,200 and Morgan Wilson, who took second in the girls pole vault.
Ray-Pec’s boys qualified Jason Fambrough in the 3,200, Jordan Hill in the pole vault and Tyree Snograss in the long jump.
Pleasant Hill has thrown its weight around at several meets this season, and the Class 3 sectional proved no different.
The Roosters’ throwing duo of sophomore Logan Blomquist and senior John Berry won the discus and shot put, respectively, something that has been an occurrence most of the season.
“About every meet, actually,” Blomquist said. “He takes shot and I take discus.”
Blomquist took the discus with a 164-foot-10 effort that came on his first throw, which he said was kind of a surprise.
“I didn’t expect to go that far on the first throw,’ said Blomquist, who is making his first trip to state. “I was concerned about the weather, but I felt good in warmups, stepped in the ring and I came through.”
Berry came through in the shot put with a winning toss of 54 feet, which was almost four feet better than the runner-up but still a good deal short of his personal best of 57-8 ½ .
“I knew I was going to have a good chance at winning it, but I’m kind of disappointed in the distance,” said Berry, who placed fourth in the state shot put last season. “But at least I made it through and that’s all that matters.”
Pleasant Hill’s Luke Woodall made it through with a second-place finish in the pole vault, and Heather Hughes was looking to do the same in the girls 800. After racing in the 400 and running a leg on the Chicks’ 3,200 relay team, Hughes had no intentions of winning her final race of the day.
“I was really tired after my 400, so I was just going to go with the girls and just get fourth,” Hughes said. “But that didn’t happen.”
What happened was that Hughes saw that she was faster than the other girls, and she brought home Pleasant Hill’s third victory of the day by winning the 800 in 2:26.50. Hughes also qualified by taking third in the 400 and joined Paige Johnson, Lauren Larkins and Courtney Bakken in placing third in the 3,200 relay.
“I was super happy our four-by-800 made it, because we had been working on it super hard,” Hughes said.
Harrisonville’s Matt Prindle was happy after qualifying in one event and two relays. Prindle took second in the 200 and ran on the Wildcats’ 400 and 800 relays. Harrisonville also had Melissa Watson advance in the girls 800 and Maggie Shea in the pole vault.
“Overall, the day was a success,” said Prindle, who earned his third trip to state. “I was just going for as many events as I could to qualify. Now the trick is pulling it off at state.”