Less than 24 hours after perhaps the best discus throw of her life, West Platte junior Paige Larison lay in a hospital bed ready for surgery.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Only 11 days ago, Larison placed second in the discus competition at a Class 2, District 8 track meet. She recorded the second-best throw in all of Class 2.
Several hours later, a sharp pain in her midsection led to a trip to the emergency room. Once there, doctors informed Larison she needed an appendectomy.
The surgery nearly derailed her track season. Yet she finished the year Friday exactly where she had planned all along — occupying one of the spots on the podium at the Class 2 state meet at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
Larison placed third Friday afternoon in the discus after a toss of 120 feet, 3 inches.
“We had really high expectations for her because she had been throwing a lot better all year,” West Platte coach Kyler Rushing said. “We changed those after the appendectomy. I’d say she exceeded our hopes for her today.”
Only four days after the surgery to remove her appendix, Larison attended the Class 2, Sectional 4 meet — the equivalent of a state qualifier. She didn’t plan to throw the discus until a few moments before the meet began, but she grabbed the final qualifying spot.
On Friday, her toss set a new personal record by more than 4 feet.
A surprising third place
For reasons he can’t quite figure out, West Platte senior Spencer Hudson saves his best performances for the Class 2 state meet. A year ago, he used the event to set personal-best times in both the mile and two-mile races.
More of the same Friday.
Hudson placed third in the mile with a time of 4 minutes and 26.04 seconds — 10 seconds better than his previous fastest time of the season.
“My times really weren’t very good this year, so I was just hoping to get all-state,” Hudson said. “So third place, I’m ecstatic about that.”
And to think: Hudson thinks his best is yet to come.
He will run in the two-mile race Saturday, which he considers his top event.
Just getting started
Most of the events on the opening day of the Missouri Class 2 and Class 1 state meets served as preliminary races in which the top eight finishers qualified for finals races Saturday.
Lutheran junior Maria Rains qualified in style Friday, placing first in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash and third in the 400-meter dash. She was also part of Lutheran’s first-place 4x100 relay team during a preliminary race.
“I didn’t want to burn myself out for (Saturday),” said Rains, the defending Class 1 state champion in the 100. “That’s when everything happens.”
Other local athletes will also be looking to back up strong performances in the preliminaries.
Barstow senior Deko Ricketts will take the top seed into the Class 2 800-meter race. He is trying to bounce back from a disappointing outing in the 1,600, in which he placed 10th a year after winning the event.
Cass-Midway’s Kathleen Yoakum qualified second in the 800 in Class 1 and ran the final leg on the 4x200 relay team, which is seeded first for the finals Saturday.
Cass-Midway also qualified first in the 4x200 boys race.
• Lathrop junior Dakota Saur placed second in the Class 2 boys pole vault.
• Lathrop senior Gretchen Mayes took second in the Class 2 girls long jump.
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