As the rain continued and runners splish-splashed around the Jefferson City High School track, Landon Meerkatz and Chandler Stephens whiled away the time cooped up on the Midway team bus.
Meerkatz and Stephens had already sat through a lightning delay early in the second day of the Class 1-2 state track meet as they waited for the Class 1 boys pole vault. And while the off-and-on showers that followed didn’t hold up the track events, they put a stop to all the jumping, throwing and vaulting.
“It was crazy,” Stephens said. “We were sitting in the bus and it was raining its (rear) off. So we were wondering whether we were going to get to vault or not or if we would be vaulting under the lights.”
As it turned out, the rain stopped and the sun appeared when Meerkatz and Stephens finally got to compete after a nearly four-hour delay. And the wait proved to be worth it as they both earned a spot on the podium.
Meerkatz cleared 12 feet, 3 inches and finished fifth, and Stephens was right behind him after clearing 12-0.
“I was proud of both of them,” Midway track coach Bryan Stahl said. “They fought tooth and nail all the way through. Can’t ask for much better.”
Meerkatz’s 12-3 was a personal best which he reached on his third attempt. While he found waiting on the bus so long stressful, he said it didn’t affect his vaulting.
“I feel really good,” Meerkatz said. “I no-heighted last year and now I’m actually on the podium.”
Stephens was happy to make the podium, too, after struggling to match the 12-6 vault he made early in the season. He and Meerkatz are seniors, which made this the last time the two would duel it out or wait for hours together on a team bus.
“It’s been a fun season with these guys battling back and forth, especially these last four or five meets,” Stahl said. “It’s been one or the other pulling ahead by six inches of something.”
Midway had another vaulting medalist in senior Jimmy Kalinka who placed fifth in the Class 1 girls pole vault. Joshua Yahnig placed seventh in the Class 1 boys javelin.
Drexel’s Harper a champion
Drexel senior Alyssa Harper found little comfort starting the Class 1 girls shot put atop the leaderboard.
Harper watched nervously as the rest of the field tried to exceed the 39-foot 1-inch toss she unleashed on her second throw in prelims. Nobody else matched it, and she embellished her victory with a 39-11 ¼ mark in the finals.
“It was kind of more stressful because everybody kept coming closer and closer,” Harper said. “And I was just like, oh I’ve got to get better.”
Harper got better on her last attempt, which was still short of her 40-7 personal best. It did however help her relax and enjoy her last high school meet a little more.
“My coach has been hyping me up all week, telling me this week is your final week,” Harper said. “So I just came out here and did my best.”
Drexel junior Aaron Woods did the best he could do in the rainy Class 1 boys 300-meter hurdles final. Woods, whose 41.16-second time was the fastest in Friday’s preliminaries, finished fourth in the finals with a time of 41.63 seconds.
“I slipped on two of the hurdles,” Woods said. “I didn’t have any traction.”
Woods had a dry track earlier in the day for the 110 hurdles final, where he also finished fourth in 15.85 seconds.
“I came in ranked eighth (in the state) in the 110, so that was pretty good.” Woods said. “I was ranked fourth in the 300 and got fourth, but I was hoping to do better.”
Parrott perches on podium
After finished 10th last year as a freshman, Grace Parrott of Sherwood had one goal for her second appearance in the Class 2 girls 800 final.
Get up on the podium.
Parrott accomplished that with a fourth-place finish in a personal-best time of 2 minutes 24.24 seconds. Parrott stayed in the top three most of the race but she still needed a good kick down the stretch to stay among the leaders.
“I knew I could do it, I just had to have a lot of push because I’ve been doing a lot better this season,” Parrott said. “It was a great accomplishment for me.”
Archie’s Kennedy places
Archie senior Daylin Kennedy felt confident going into the Class 2 boys 800 final. He had the third-best qualifying time in the field, and none of the other times were far from what he had been running most of the season.
Those times proved a little deceiving.
Kennedy still wound up with a medal, but his fifth-place finish with a time of 2:02.19 was a little farther down than he expected.
“I thought I was going to go out there and win because I looked at how the times were and they were close to my best,” Kennedy said. “Then I found out those guys out there were a little bit better than me.”
Kennedy also had to run during a downpour, but he said that had little effect on his performance.
“The heat gets to me whenever I run rather than the rain,” Kennedy said. “I felt good.”