Shortly after Lee’s Summit West’s girls track team overwhelmed the Suburban Gold Conference meet, Titans head coach Jesse Griffin was trying to recount all the meet records his Titans broke. Turns out even he had trouble keeping track of their dominance.
“Seems like we had one more meet record, but I can’t remember,” Griffin said as he tried to jog his memory.
Turns out the Titans broke five meet records as they racked up eight individual victories and won three of the four relays. West scored 224 points, 109.5 more than runner-up Blue Springs as the defending Class 5 state champions rolled to their 12th league title in 13 years Friday night at Blue Springs High School’s Peve Stadium.
West broke individual records in the 200-meter dash, where Erin Sermons beat the record she set last season with a winning time of 25.10 seconds, the high jump, which Jessica Haney won with a leap of 5 feet, 7 inches, and the discus, which the nationally ranked Makayla Kelby took with a 159-4 throw.
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West also lowered the meet record it already held in the 1,600 relay, with Audrey Parson, Erin Sermons, Kyra Atkins and Jana Shawver winning in a 3:51.07 time that Griffin said was one of the best in the nation this season. And the 3,200 relay team of Alex Marko, McKenna Butler, Cailyn Persinger and Audrey Parson ran a 9:38.36 to break a record that had stood since 2001.
“I just think it was a great team effort,” Griffin said. “We have a lot of younger girls that are stepping up and scoring points, and the older girls are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”
That would include Kelby, who was a double winner after also taking the shot put, and Haney, who had a triple jump title to go along with her high jump win. Sermons also won gold in the 400 as well as the 200, Shawver and Parson went one-two in the 800, and Kyra Atkins and Sydney Bowers did the same in the 100 hurdles.
Bowers joined Fred’shana Atkins, Isabella Calcara and Shannel Watkins to win the 400 relay in 49.16 seconds.
“We covered every event area,” Griffin said. “Not everything went as we planned, but we always had somebody pick up the slack if somebody didn’t score where they were supposed to.”
Broncos neck and neck
Lee’s Summit North sprinters Jamad Jackson and Nyles Thomas have waged a fierce yet friendly rivalry most of the season. In practice and in meets, the two Broncos often finish side by side.
Still, it came as a surprise when Jackson, a junior, and Thomas, a sophomore, finished the boys 100-meter dash literally side by side.
Jackson and Thomas were both clocked at 11.02 seconds in their heat, and the meet officials didn’t attempt to break the deadlock. So they wound up co-champions.
“I’m not the best 100 runner, and he’s like really good at it,” Jackson said. “I expected to get second maybe. It was crazy.”
It seemed even crazier for these two rivals who have been going after each other since Thomas was a freshman last season to have to share a title, especially with a timing system that can break a race down to the thousandths of a second. They admit it didn’t sit well with them at first.
“At first we didn’t like it,” Thomas said. “We were both kind of sad, but it’s all right.”
Jackson and Thomas ran in another apparent dead heat in the 200 meters, but this time Jackson was declared the winner in 21.92 seconds with Thomas barely behind in 21.93. They led a one-two-three finish by the Broncos in both races: Keyon Mozee finished behind Jackson and Thomas in the 100, and Daunte’ Walker followed them in the 200.
“The competition level between us is like really high in practice,” Jackson said. “You can tell that at the meets too. We’re on a ride now.”
Dominating the two sprints led North to a second-place finish in the boys meet behind Blue Springs. The Broncos’ other league champions were Todd Pinkowski in the 400, the 1,600 relay team of Matthew Hughey, Myles Madge, Damond Anderson, and Pinkowski and the 800 relay team of Mozee, Myles Shaw, John Eldridge and Christian Carter.
Still, it wasn’t enough to match the depth of Blue Springs, which racked up 186 points to win the team title.
“We get tired of finishing second to Blue Springs, but we’re OK with that,” North head boys coach Eric Davis said. “On paper they’re the best team in the state. So I’m more than pleased we finished second to them.”
What a kick
Lee’s Summit West distance runner Ben Burnett usually doesn’t kick until the last 100 meters when he runs the 3,200. In the conference championship race he decided step on the gas sooner than usual.
Turned out to be a good move.
Burnett started his kick at 300 meters out, and that gave him enough time to reel in Raymore-Peculiar’s Tyler Musgrave and hit the finish line first in 9:43.61.
“That’s new for me,” said Burnett, a junior who also placed third in the 1,600. “I was kind of nervous; I didn’t know if I could hold it that long.”
Musgrave had led from the start and appeared to be pulling away going into the eighth and final lap. But Burnett’s kick caught him with 200 meters to go, and Lee’s Summit North’s Matt Reis was right behind him and finished second.
“I think I found it in me,” Burnett said. “I knew I could kick.”
Burnett was one of three champions for West’s boys, which placed fourth with 92 points. Titans sophomore Caleb Furnell outdueled North’s Devon Richardson in the high jump, and senior Isaiah Childs took first in the shot put.
Tigers take third
Lee’s Summit had two individual champions and took third place in the boys meet. KC Lightfoot smashed the conference pole vault record with a winning jump of 17 feet and nearly cleared 17-6. Christian Moreno took first in the 300 hurdles.
Moreno, Evan Sanders, Layne Breneman and Kyle Heeney teamed up to take second in the 1,600 relay; Ronell Jones, Micah Manning, Nathaniel Jones and Delshaun Presley were second in the 400 relay. Dakota Collins took second for the Tigers in the javelin.
Lee’s Summit’s girls, who finished in fourth place, had champions in Mariah Wilcox-Hatcher in the 100, Emily Eason in the pole vault and Ashlyn Cook in the javelin. The Tigers’ 400 relay team of Vanessa Anudike, Tkai Bridgeforth, Wilcox-Hatcher and Makayla Rice took second.