They had to think about it at first, whether what they accomplished was worthy of a victory lap. But as far as Lee’s Summit West boys track coach Bob Klausing was concerned, a joyous jog around the Raymore-Peculiar track was more than warranted.
West tied Ray-Pec for the boys championship Saturday in the Class 5 District 6 meet, with the Titans and the host Panthers both finishing with 127 points. It was the Titans’ first district title in seven years, and it capped a day in which they qualified six individuals in seven events and all four relays for Saturday’s sectional meet in Waynesville.
All of them good reasons for a celebration, even without an outright title.
“Absolutely,” Klausing said. “They worked hard. We got some really top-notch performances from some kids today.”
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That would include Vonzell Kelley, who placed first in the long jump and second in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, and Elijah Childs, who won the shot put and placed second in the discus. Caleb Furnell was also a district champion in the high jump.
But it wasn’t just the top four in each event who qualified for sectionals that made the difference. Klausing said the non-qualifiers, the ones that still managed to make the top eight and score team points, were a big factor, too.
“In a meet where it’s just a matter of one or a half point, those guys that scored a single point are key,” Klausing said. “And we felt like a district championship was possible. And we feel like a sectional championship is possible.”
It could happen if West gets another big day from Kelley, who renewed his season-long rivalry with Ray-Pec sophomore Chris McKinzy. McKinzy nipped Kelley at the finish line in the 110-meter hurdles final, but he finished two spots behind Kelley in the 300 hurdles final, which was won by Lee’s Summit senior Christian Moreno.
The long jump belonged to Kelley, who set a personal best and a new school record 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.
“It’s fun; he pushes me a lot,” Kelley said. “It all goes back to AAU track.”
Kelley also ran a leg on West’s 400 relay team, which qualified with a third-place finish. The Titans’ 800 relay team also finished third, the 1,600 team took fourth and the 3,200 team of David Treece, Corey Timberlake, Dereck Wilson Ben Burnett placed second in a season-best 8:05.54.
“Our relay teams have been just such a pleasant surprise all year,” Klausing said. “They’ve just continually been improving an working hard. Our (3,200) has been running solid all year.”
West’s first district title since 2010 will be the last for Klausing, who is retiring after nine years guiding West’s boys program and a long career of coaching and teaching. That made taking that victory lap all that much sweeter, and proper.
“”It’s a nice way to go out,” Klausing said. “We haven’t won a district title or been in the hunt in a number of years. It’s kind of nice to be back there again.”
West girls dominate
West’s girls have been running roughshod over the competition all season, and the district meet was no exception. West qualified 14 girls in 20 events and all four relays in rolling to the district crown with 215 team points, 97 more than runner-up Ray-Pec.
“We’ve had so many people, especially freshmen,” step up,” West senior sprinter Erin Sermons said. “We have a lot of people in new events this year and they’re all doing great. Our team success is attributed to that.”
Even while having what she called an off-day, Sermons still managed to win and qualify for sectionals in four events. She took the 200 with a time of 25.22 seconds, cruised to victory in the 400 in 56.69 seconds and anchored West’s victorious 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams.
“It was a hard day for me,” Sermons said. “I wasn’t feeling that well so I was pushing myself through it. Mentally, it was hard today.”
Kyra Atkins joined Sermons as a four-event qualifier. Atkins won the 300-meter hurdles in a state-best time of 43.55 seconds, placed second in the 100 hurdles and like Sermons ran on the Titans 800 and 1,600 relay teams.
West’s girls also had multiple qualifiers in Makayla Kelby, who took first in the discus and second in the shot put, Jana Shawver, who was first in the 800 and second in the 400, Jessica Haney, who won the high jump and took fourth in the triple jump, and Alex Marko, who was third in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
Lightfoot soars again
Lee’s Summit junior KC Lightfoot set yet another meet record Saturday when he cleared 17 feet in winning the boys pole vault. Lightfoot, who has the best vault in the state this season at 17-3 ¼ , set a new conference record at that height last week and at Blue Springs’ Gary Parker Relays the week before.
Lightfoot and Moreno headed up the nine individuals and four relays who qualified for Lee’s Summit’s boys, who took fourth with 98.5 points. Moreno was also on the Tigers’ 1,600 relay team, which took second as did their 400 and 800 squads.
Lee’s Summit’s girls, who advance five individuals and two relays, had a district champion in Mariah Wilcox-Hatcher, who won the 100 in 13.02 seconds. Emily Eason placed second in the pole vault and the 400 and 800 relay teams also placed second. The Tigers finished fifth in the girls standings with 80 points.
Broncos sprinters shine
Lee’s Summit North’s Nyles Thomas and Jamad Jackson placed first and second in the 100 and 200 to lead the Broncos to a second-place finish in the Class 5 District 7 boys meet at William Chrisman.
Thomas led a one-two-four finish for North in the 100 with a time of 10.82 seconds, followed by Jackson at 10.82 and Daunte’ Walker in fourth. Thomas won the 200 in 21.98 seconds, followed by Jackson at 22.30.
North, which qualified nine individuals and all four relays for the Class 5 sectional meet at Blue Springs South, also had firsts in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays. Todd Pinkowski won the 400 and Devon Richardson took first in the high jump.
North’s girls also advanced all four relays and had eight individual qualifiers. Allison Dailey was second in the high jump and Johnae Hightower was second in the long jump to lead the Broncos, who placed third with 106 points. The Broncos’ 400, 800 and 1,600 relays all placed second.
SCA’s Lee wins three
Summit Christian Academy sophomore Lenetta Lee was a triple winner for the Eagles in the Class 3 District 7 meet at Clinton. Lee won the 100 in 12.63 seconds, the 200 in 25.27 and the long jump with a 17-5 ¼ leap.
Carlie Queen won two events for SCA’s girls, who qualified four individuals for the Class 3 sectional meet, which will also be held in Clinton. Queen, the three-time Class 2 high jump champion, won that event with a 5-8 jump and took first in the pole vault at 11-9.
SCA’s boys qualified five individuals and three relays, led by a first-place finish in the 1,600 relay. Joshua McConnell, Malek Looney, Zach McConnell and Isaiah Vigliano won with a time of 3:31.89. Looney and Vigliano also place second and third, respectively, in the 200.