COLUMBIA — With her first Southeastern Conference outdoor title in the shot put already in hand, Missouri sophomore Kearsten Peoples felt relaxed before her final throw of the day Sunday at Walton Stadium.
By TEREZ PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“I knew that I had won the event, so I was just going to have fun,” Peoples said.
The result — a season-best throw of 58 feet, 43/4 inches — was just as fun for Peoples, as the Ottawa High School graduate was the only individual champion of the weekend for a Missouri team playing host to the SEC track championships for the first time.
“I had a bad indoor season in that event, so coming into today I was nervous, but I was also excited because I knew I was ready,” Peoples said.
Peoples actually scratched on her first three attempts during the SEC indoor championships in February, a disappointment that motivated her over the last two months.
“I was having issues with my technique, it just wasn’t clicking,” Peoples said.
But through a lot of practice, she obviously fixed it. And now, Peoples feels she’s close to approaching her personal record of 59-91/2. She actually surpassed that mark with a throw on Sunday, but it was ruled a scratch.
“I’m getting closer and closer, so that’s kind of exciting,” said Peoples, who also finished second in the women’s discus over the weekend.
Peoples’ Missouri teammate, sophomore Jill Rushin, took third in the shot put with a throw of 53 feet, 5 inches.
• Missouri senior Laura Roxberg won the 1,500-meter run at the Big 12 track championships last year, so one might think she’d be disappointed with her third-place finish in the event on Sunday.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Roxberg, a graduate of Blue Valley Northwest who finished in a time of 4 minutes, 17.35 seconds, knows how tough the SEC is.
“There were a ton of amazing girls in this race,” Roxberg said. “Third place in a conference as amazing as this, I don’t think there’s much to complain about.”
Roxberg entered the weekend ranked fourth in the conference in the event and seventh overall in the country. She hopes to finish in the top eight at the NCAA outdoor championship — which will be held June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore. — something she’s never done before.
“That’s something I’d really like to do, make it into that final,” Roxberg said. “I’m ready to go in a national championship and leave it all out there. That’s going to be my last race, so I might as well.”
• The Missouri freshman sprinted through the finish line, his eyes locked on the scoreboard.
Markesh Woodson knew he might have clinched a top-three finish in the men’s 100-meter dash — the premier race of the weekend — but he didn’t allow himself to celebrate Saturday until he saw his third-place finish flash on the giant screen, after which he screamed, smiled and jumped up and down.
“You ever have your parents buy you a new dog and you’re like ‘Oh my god,’” Woodson said with a laugh afterward. “That’s what it felt like.”
That’s understandable. Woodson finished with a time of 10.18, trailing only Ole Miss senior Isiah Young and Alabama junior Diondre Batson.
“I’m a freshman, and I know I can compete with the big boys,” said Woodson, who added that he tried to focus on his race and not his opponents.
Now, Woodson hopes to use the finish as a springboard for regionals, which start in two weeks.
“Practice makes perfect, and I’m trying to be perfect,” Woodson said.
• Other top-three finishers for Mizzou over the weekend include: sophomore Katrine Haarklau (third in the pole vault) and senior Max Storms (third in the 10,000-meter run).
To reach Terez Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to email@example.com.