Luke Woodall came to the Missouri Class 3-5 state track meet so single-mindedly focused that nothing – not even wind, rain and lightning – would keep him from his goal.
Woodall, a Pleasant Hill senior, was making his fourth and final appearance in the Class 4 boys pole vault. Last year he finished fourth. As a sophomore, he was third. This time, even after having to wait nearly six hours to compete after severe weather hit the Jefferson City area, he got what he came here for.
Woodall finished in first place, winning with a vault of 15 feet.
“It feels great,” Woodall said. “I’ve come so close and I came in it to win it this year.”
Woodall was just getting ready to start the competition when the fist raindrops hit the Jefferson City High School track May 27. Soon the meet would be suspended, and participants and spectators would be ordered to evacuate and seek shelter. The Class 4 pole vault, scheduled to begin at noon, didn’t start until well past 6 p.m.
“It was all mental,” said Woodall, who spent time waiting first in the team’s van and then back at their hotel. “I just had to keep my focus and relax and know that my body knows what I’m doing. I’ve taken hundreds of vaults and I just have to trust my body.”
Woodall cleared the bar on every attempt on his way to the winning height. The title was his after Ian Richmond of Kirksville bowed out at 14-3, and his first miss didn’t come until he failed to clear 15-9 in an effort to top his personal record of 15-6.
“I’m happy,” Woodall said. “I wasn’t looking for a PR, I just wanted that first place. A PR would have been nice but I’m satisfied.”
So was Pleasant Hill track coach John Hamilton, who wasn’t surprised at how well Woodall handled the long delay.
“That’s the way Luke is,” Hamilton said. “He’s all business and I knew he’d be all right.”
Like Woodall, Pleasant Hill senior Donna Borer came to state with a goal in mind – a 150-foot toss in the discus. It was a mark she had been chasing since winning last year’s state meet with a 149-9 effort.
Borer won the Class 4 girls discus for a second time, and she reached her goal with a 150-2 toss that beat the rest of the field by 20 feet.
“It was pretty exciting,” Borer said. “I’ve been trying to get 150 all year.”
Borer, who Hamilton said topped 140 feet only once all season, never trailed after making 145-10 on her first effort. She hadn’t thrown this well, Hamilton said, since that previous trip to state.
“All six of her throws were over 140 feet and four them were over 145,” Hamilton said. The best series of her life and best throw of her life all happened at the perfect time.”
Borer finished her senior year the next day with a seventh-place finish in the Class 4 girls shot put. Her best throw of 38-3 ¼ was short of her personal record, but she did finish one spot higher on the podium than last season.
“It wasn’t my best day but it was all right,” Borer said. “Sure worked out better than last year.”
Pleasant Hill had another medalist in Lauren Redwine, who took fourth in the Class 4 girls javelin, and almost had another in sprinter Olivia Ferdig. In the 200-meter dash preliminaries, Ferdig and Cara Johnson of MICDS finished in a dead heat at 25.8 seconds. Video timing equipment showed Johnson edging out Ferdig for the eighth and final qualifying spot for the finals with a time of 25.791 seconds to Ferdig’s 25.798.
“That would have been her best chance to get through,” Hamilton said. “I really wanted to see Olivia get on the stand.”
McKinzy wins gold for Ray-Pec
Chris McKinzy of Raymore-Peculiar and Vonzell Kelley of Lee’s Summit West have been battling each other on the track since they were little boys in AAU meets. A couple of years ago, they discovered they were cousins.
McKinzy and Kelley found themselves shoulder to shoulder again, this time in the Class 5 110-meter hurdles. McKinzy won the bragging rights and the title, hitting the finish line in 14.48 seconds to Kelley’s 14.57.
McKinzy and Kelley have been battling like this all season, from the first meets of the spring to last week’s sectional meet, where McKinzy also nipped Kelley in the 110. But as hard as they compete against each other, they push each other even more.
“In prelims, he just told me to pull him through the finals,” McKinzy said. “When we made it to finals we had it set in that we were going to take the top two.”
This certainly won’t be the last time McKinzy, who also placed seventh in the Class 5 triple jump, and Kelley will fight for a gold medal. The two are just sophomores, which means this rivalry should go on for some time.
“We’ll do it again next year,” Kelley said.
Ray-Pec senior Tyler Musgrave placed sixth in a fast Class 5 boys 3,200 final. Musgrave ran a 9:27.92 time in a race that Lafayette of Wildwood’s Austin Hindman won in an all-class record 8:54.92.
Miranda Dick won two medals with a fourth-place finish in the Class 5 girls 3,200 and a sixth-place finish in the girls 1,600. Laurana Mitchell, Marissa Dick, Makenzie Stucker and Miranda Dick took fourth Class 5 girls 3,200 relay.
Harrisonville freshman Kaylee Harp placed eighth in the Class 4 girls 800 with a time of 2:21.08.