Jesse Griffin knows there are no sure things when it comes to track and field. But the Lee’s Summit West girls track coach is sure of one thing.
The Titans are in great shape to take another state title.
“We’re in good shape with 16 events out of the 19 qualified,” Griffin said. “But you’ve still got to go out there and perform and make sure you’re doing your part.”
West qualified girls in everything but the pole vault and two hurdles races for the Class 3-5 state track meet, which will be held May 25-26 at Jefferson City High School. It’s the same depth and breadth the Titans had last year, when they won their fourth-ever and second consecutive championship with an all-class record 109 points.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“If the girls take care of each individual event, I think the end result will be good,” Griffin said. “That’s going to be up to them how they approach it, and it’s a pretty veteran group. They know what they have to do. It’s just a matter of getting there and taking care of business.”
West took care of business at last weekend’s Class 5 sectional meet at Sedalia, where the top four in each event moved on to state. All four relays made it through, led by the first-place 3,200-meter relay squad.
Senior Makayla Kelby won the discus and the shot put and still has the state’s best marks in both events this season. Jessica Haney will defend her state title in the high jump, as will Jana Shawver in the 800.
Griffin of course expected all of them to get back to state, and he expects all of them to do well again. If the Titans want another team title, Griffin said the girls who qualified lower on the list will have to step up as well.
Kelby, for example, will be joined this year in the shot put by junior Maddie Harris, who took third in the sectional meet. Audrey Parson is also in the 800 along with Shawver, and Madison Hulsey and McKenna Butler went one-two in the 1,600.
“Each girl has a responsibility to go out on the track and do their very best,” Griffin said. “And the results will come if they do.”
West’s boys qualified five individual and two relays for state. Vonzell Kelley advanced in three events, taking second in the long jump and third in both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. Kelly placed second in both hurdles races last season.
Ben Burnett and Will Carroll placed second and third in the 1,600 for the Titans. Jalen Thomas was third in the shot put and Jimmy Dietrich fourth in the 3,200.
Lee’s Summit will have the prohibitive favorite in the Class 5 boys pole vault in KC Lightfoot, who cleared 18-0 to win the sectional and has already gone 18-5 this season. Lightfoot, who has signed with Baylor, will be going after his second state title.
Lee’s Summit also had sectional champions in Mitchell Tinsley, who won the long jump, and Micah Manning, who took the 200. Manning was also second in the 100. Johnny Brackins was second in the 110 hurdles and the Tigers 400 and 800 relay teams both took third.
Lee’s Summit also had three girls advance: Sara Fletcher in the high jump, Kelly Helmick in the long jump and Ashlyn Cook in the javelin.
Broncos in the hunt
Lee’s Summit North’s boys will also be in the running for a state team title after qualifying nine individuals in 10 events and three relays in the Class 5 sectional at William Chrisman.
North’s Devon Richardson won both the triple jump and the high jump, where his 6-10 height is the best in Missouri this season. Keyon Mozee and Nyles Thomas went one-two in the 100 and Mozee also took third in the 200.
Blake Gillihan also qualified in two events with second-place finishes in both the 800 and 1,600.
Marvin Hopkins took first in the long jump, and the Broncos’ 400 and 800 relay teams were also winners.
North also had Tiffany Hughey qualify in the girls 200 and Hannah White in the girls pole vault.
Class 3 sectional
Lenetta Lee of Summit Christian Academy qualified for state in three events at the Class 3 sectional meet in Odessa.
Lee’ a junior, won the 100 and 200 and placed second in the long jump. Lee placed third in the 200 and fifth in the 100 and long jump in last season’s Class 3 state meet.
SCA’s Kaylee Lunn also qualified with a first-place finish in the 100 hurdles.
Caroline Meyers of St. Michael the Archangel placed second in the 1,600 and 800 and third in the 3,200. Meyers, a senior, took second in the Class 3 1,600 last year competing for O’Hara.