A miscue on a baton handoff spelled a bitter ending to the Rockhurst High School 4x100 relay team's season last May.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
It also fueled motivation.
A year ago, the Hawklets were disqualified in the Missouri Class 4 state meet after the improper handoff. Prior to the error, they were in the running among the top four teams in the state.
A year later, Max Linscott, Dylan Stoetzer and Tommy Seitz earned redemption. As members of last year's relay team, the three teamed with newcomer Curtis Goldmon to become the first 400-meter relay team in Rockhurst history to win the event at the Class 4 state meet last Saturday at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
The foursome finished in 42.30 seconds, which was only 0.12 seconds better than second place Raytown South, whose runners were Glen Pargo, Sean Allen, Markees Jackson and Tyshawn Pennington.
We spent all season with this same group, so I think we knew each other's rhythm this year, Seitz said. When you do that, you don't have to worry about handoffs. You've done it so many times.
The 400-relay victory was the final string on a day of good relay news for the Hawklets.
In the opening race on the final day of the Class 4 meet, Rockhurst won the 3,200 relay. Seniors Chaz Trujillo and Alex Lombardo and sophomores William Thompson and Carson Bode were the winning foursome. Bode, who anchored the race, ran the fastest 800 split among the group, completing the two laps in 1 minute, 54.37 seconds.
Raytown South track
When asked about his chances in the Missouri Class 4 110-meter hurdles Saturday, Raytown South junior Justice Burks simply called himself an underdog.
You could say that. Over the previous two weeks alone, Burks had lost to Ruskin senior Kevin Brown, who carried enough momentum into the state meet that most considered him the favorite.
So when Burks crossed the finish line first, defeating Brown head-to-head for the first time all season no one was as surprised as Burks. And that made the win all the more enjoyable.
It felt incredible. I've never felt anything like that, Burks said. My heart was pounding from start to finish. I didn't expect that, but I really wanted to win.
Burks needed his best performance of the season to edge Lafayette sophomore Jabrille Lewis, who took second. Burks crossed the line in 14.64 seconds. Brown finished fifth.
I'm just astonished, Burks said. I'm just so glad to have won that race. I don't know what else to say.
State track notes
• One of the best finishes Saturday came in the day's longest race. Springfield Glendale senior Chris Mooneyham edged Truman junior Cole Rockhold by 22-hundredths of a second to win the Class 4 3,200 meters. Rockhold and Blue Springs' runners Stephen Mugeche and Simon Belete all held the lead at various points during the race. Mugeche took third and Belete fifth.
• The Class 4 boys long jump was owned by local talent and signs point to that remaining true for another year. Blue Springs senior Donte Watkins won the event, with three juniors finishing behind him. Fort Osage's Elijah McGill was second; Rockhurst's Curtis Goldmon took third; and Park Hill South's Nick Griffith finished fourth.
• Truman senior Roy Bay finished without a gold medal, but he was close twice. Bay took second in both the 100- and 200-meters dashes.
• After winning the long jump for the second consecutive year last Friday, Blue Springs senior Jazmin McCoy took second in the 100 meters and fourth in the 200 on Saturday.
• Lincoln Prep junior Helima Jackson impressed in the 200 meters in which she placed fourth in 25.85 seconds.
Missouri state tennis
The Rockhurst Hawklets returned to prominence in Class 2 state tennis, but the last few days weren't exactly a smooth ride.
Well, except on paper. Rockhurst finished an undefeated season with a 5-0 victory over Columbia Rock Bridge in the Class 2 state championship match last Thursday at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
But it didn't come without some unwanted hiccups. There was Jack Evans, whose ankle injury nearly forced him to walk with crutches only three days before the title match. And there was No. 1 singles player Alex Koca, who had an emergency appendectomy a day after the Hawklets won the team title, forcing him to withdraw from the singles tournament.
As eventful as the final days of the season may have been, though, they proved equally valuable when you consider this: Without a senior in its lineup, Rockhurst plans to return its full squad next season to make a run at defending its championship.
I think getting that experience is huge, especially with such a young team, Rockhurst coach Zach Frisch said. I think that helps a ton. They know how to battle and what it takes to win.
The school's top doubles team John Nogalski Jr. and Jacob Moore added to the good vibes for Rockhurst. Two days after the Hawklets won the team state championship, the tandem won the Class 2 doubles tournament in Springfield.
To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.