Since there were two champions and only one trophy, Raymore-Peculiar track coach Jamin Swift and Lee’s Summit West coach Bob Klausing had to resort to a coin toss Saturday to see who would take home the spoils from winning the Class 5 District 6 track meet boys team title.
Klausing won the toss, which meant the Panthers would have to wait for a replica to show up in the mail until they could have something for their trophy case. That didn’t keep the Panthers from celebrating their share of the boys district team championship – an accomplishment Swift didn’t see coming.
“It’s a pretty big day for us,” Swift said. “We don’t aim for district titles; we tend to take our kids and spread them around instead of loading them up. So it was definitely a surprise to be in the hunt for that today.”
Host Ray-Pec and Lee’s Summit West both finished with 127 team points, with Nixa right behind at 125.5. Swift said it was the first time Ray-Pec has won or shared a boys district track title since the school moved up to the state’s big school class. The Panthers did it by placing five individuals in nine events and three relay teams in the top four, which qualified them for Saturday’s Class 5 sectional meet at Waynesville.
“Lots of kids who came in ranked fifth, sixth seventh pulled out some top four finishes,” Swift said. “So a pretty special day for a lot of our kids.”
It was certainly a special day for sophomore Chris McKinzy, who won two events and qualified in four as he continued his friendly rivalry with Lee’s Summit West’s Vonzell Kelley. McKinzy nipped Kelley at the finish line to win the 110-meter hurdles final, but he finished fourth in the 300 hurdles while Kelley came in second.
McKinzy took first in the triple jump, which Kelley doesn’t compete in. The long jump belonged to Kelley, who set a personal best with a winning leap of 23 feet, 4 inches, besting runner-up McKinzy’s 23-0.
The two have competed this way since they were on the same track team as seven year-olds. Two years ago, they discovered they were cousins.
“We ran AAU together and we’ve always been battling and competing,” McKinzy said. “We make each other better.”
Tyler Musgrave qualified with second-place finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200 for the Panthers, and Jaylen Butler took second in the 100. Joey Schoenemann took third in the javelin with a 147-6 toss that exceeded is previous best by 25 feet.
But none of them could match the excitement of sophomore Jaren Jones, who could hardly contain his joy after battling to a second-place finish in the 800. Jones, who missed out on reaching sectionals in the 800 last season, struggled to keep up with the fast pace set by Nixa’s Christian Procell before crossing the finish line in 2 minutes, .16 seconds.
“I got up to the line and I was scared and my muscles were tightening up,” Jones said. “But he blew the gun and everything just went away and I was flowing.”
Jones also qualified with Ray-Pec’s fourth-place 1,600 relay and third-place 3,200 relay teams. The Panthers’ 800 relay placed fourth and also qualified.
Dick goes the distance, twice
Ray-Pec sophomore distance runner Miranda Dick had only done the 1,600-3,200 double once before, and that was just a week earlier in the Suburban Gold Conference meet. So she was a little unsure of her chances when she attempted to run both races on the same day again.
Much to her surprise and relief, Dick didn’t just survive, she thrived. Dick won the 1,600 in 5:16.70, and later won the 3,200 11:37.02.
“The mile I wasn’t planning on getting first because I wanted to save my energy for the two mile,” Dick said. “So that was a surprise.”
Dick led a one-two finish in the 1,600 with Makenzie Stucker behind her in 5:17.23. She thought she expended too much energy in the first race to do well in the 3,200, so she was kind of caught off-guard by her performance.
“I just wanted to stay up with the front people, but I felt so good for some reason,” Dick said.
Dick will be part of a large contingent of Ray-Pec girls at Saturday’s sectional. The Panthers qualified eight individuals and three relays on their way to a second-place finish. Besides Dick and Stucker, Ray-Pec also advanced Garionna Pearl in the 200, Laurana Mitchell in the 800, Haley Bossert in the 100 hurdles, Janae Thurston in the javelin, and Madilynn Herrell and Autumn Crandall in the pole vault.