Like other throwers, Mikayla Kelby of Lee’s Summit West is used to competing in anonymity, toiling away at discus and shot-put venues often far removed from the grandstands and the track.
The Missouri state track meet is a little different. Not only are the throwing areas closer to the packed grandstands, they are often ringed two or three deep with spectators.
Kelby doesn’t mind the extra attention. In fact, she thrives on it. Kelby put on a show for the crowd on Friday at Jefferson City High School in the Class 5 girls discus, unleashing a toss of 163 feet, 9 inches to win her third state title in the event and extend the Class 5 best mark she set last season.
And all those extra eyes on her? No problem at all, Kelby said.
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“I just love the atmosphere here,” Kelby said. “It makes me relaxed, which is kind of weird.”
Kelby got the winning toss on her final attempt in prelims. Her mechanics were perfect, she said, and she came to Jefferson City thinking she had a 160-foot throw in her and a shot at bettering the 153-3 Class 5 record she set last season.
“I’ve been doing it all practice lately, I just haven’t been able to produce it in a meet,” said Kelby, who extended her personal best by 3 inches. “But I knew this meet was the meet I could do it.”
Kelby’s state meet isn’t over yet. Saturday, she competes in the Class 5 shot put, an event she won last year even though it isn’t her favorite.
“I was hoping shot was today so I could get it out of the way,” Kelby said. “But it’s all good.”
First time the charm for Furnell
Caleb Furnell of Lee’s Summit West had never been to a state track meet before, neither as a participant or as a spectator. He made his first meet one to remember.
Furnell, a sophomore, won the Class 5 high jump and set a new Class 5 meet record with a leap of 6 feet, 8 inches. Being new to it all, Furnell admitted to having a few butterflies in his stomach. But he said they all went away when he skimmed over the bar on his second attempt at the winning height.
“It was a lot of pressure on me,” Furnell said. “I knew if I hit it I would have a good chance of winning. Halfway over I realized all I had to do was to flip my feet up and I was good.”
A one-two for Kearney’s Adams
Kearney senior Clayton Adams wasn’t too concerned when Ryan Riddle of Webb City pulled out to a big lead in the Class 4 boys 1,600-meter run. He had run against Riddle before, and he knew he could reel Riddle in.
Adams kicked it in over the last 600 meters and won a neck-and-neck battle down the stretch. Adams time was 4 minutes, 13.67 seconds, with Riddle only a second behind.
Riddle took off at the start and maintained a fast pace for the first three laps, but Adams was confident it wouldn’t last.
“It looked like he was dying,” Adams said. “He took it out pretty hard, so I just wanted to get close to him as I could and bring him in over the last 100.”
Adams almost made it two for two going on another furious kick in the 800, but he couldn’t catch Ben Stasney of West Plains at the finish line. Stasney won in 1:54.21, followed by Adams at 1:55.95.
An unhappy champion
Jeff Hollis of Barstow is going home with another gold medal, but he isn’t going home happy.
Hollis won the Class 3 boys high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 9 inches, adding to the title he won last year. So what’s not to like?
Coming within a whisker of clearing 7-0 1/4 and setting a Class 3 record.
Hollis was convinced he nailed it on his third attempt, but the bar wavered and fell as he hit the pit, much to his anguish.
“I’ve never missed the bar like that, ever,” said Hollis, who has gone as high as 7-1 1/4 . This is the most frustrated I’ve ever been. I cleared that bar and my heel barely nicked it.”
Hollis wasn’t even happy with his winning height, which he said was his lowest this season. And after coming so close to the record — and realizing he would have cleared 7-0 with that jump — another state medal proved to be small consolation.
“It was unfortunate,” Hollis said.
Plenty of energy
Tori Findley of Blue Springs South ran a furious leg to bring the Jaguars’ 3,200-meter relay team from 13th to sixth. Some feared she may have expended too much energy in the process and not saved enough for the Class 5 girls 3,200 later in the day.
Turns out she had plenty left in the tank.
Findley won the 3,200 meters going away, crossing the finish line well ahead of the field in 10 minutes, 7.53 seconds. Findley, who looked as if she wasn’t breaking a sweat, said she had plenty of time to rest between races. Plus, helping her relay team on the medals stand with what ended up as an eighth-place finish provided a nice boost.
“I think the four-by-eight just started the day off right,” Findley said. “Just to be up on the podium with the team is so special. It’ll never top just being up there by yourself.”
▪ Lee’s Summit West’s girls 3,200 relay team won a battle down the stretch with Francis Howell to take first in 9:15.60. The defending Class 5 girls team champions, LS West’s other three relays qualified for Saturday’s finals, along with three individuals in five events.
▪ Dylan Cowlings of Blue Springs won the Class 5 boys javelin. Cowling won with a throw of 188-2.
▪ Mikayla Deshazer of Lincoln Prep won the Class 3 girls discus. Deshazer, a sophomore, took first with a 142-3 throw.
▪ Donna Borer of Pleasant Hill repeated as champion in the Class 4 girls discus with a throw of 150-2.