Lee’s Summit North boys track coach Eric Davis crunched the numbers and didn’t like what he was seeing.
The Broncos had lower-than-expected finishes in the 400-meter and 800-meter relays. Points he planned on in the open 800 and 1,600 races didn’t come.
It didn’t add up to a team championship.
“I pretty much said this isn’t going to happen now,” Davis said. “But I’ve never been very good at math.”
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Lee’s Summit North, in fact, still had a shot going into the 1,600 relay, the final boys race of the day in the Missouri Class 3-5 state track meet Saturday at Jefferson City High School. And when the Broncos finished fourth, they secured their first boys track state championship since 2007.
By 1 ½ points.
“The kids came through,” Davis said. “Even though they were tired and hot, like everybody else, they still came through. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
It came down to this for North: If second-place Columbia Rock Bridge won the 1,600 relay, the Broncos had to finish fifth or better. Rock Bridge won the race, just as it had the 400 and 800 relays.
North finished fourth, with Matthew Hughey, Miles Madge, Blake Gillihan and Isaiah Vigliano teaming up for a time of 3 minutes, 22.15 seconds. That gave North 60 points and left Rock Bridge with 58.5.
Vigliano, who charged down the final 100 meters to keep North in fourth, said he and his teammates knew what the situation was coming into the race.
“Our coach told us what we needed to do and we just went out and did it,” Vigliano said.
Davis wanted Hughey and Vigliano to bookend the relay because they were North’s top 400 runners. And he wanted them to realize the opportunity they had in front of them.
“I looked at both of them in the bullpen and said, ‘Guys, this is what every kid dreams about,” Davis said. “And they seized the moment like you like to see them do.”
North had only one individual champion – Devon Richardson set a new Class 5 meet record taking the high jump with a 6-foot-9 leap – but the Broncos had enough depth and breadth to compensate.
The Broncos scored points in seven events and in three of them – the 100, 400 and the long jump – they placed two in the top eight. Keyon Mozee took second and Nyles Thomas eighth in the 100. Marvin Hopkins was second and Christian Carter fourth in long jump, while Hughey and Vigliano were third and sixth in the 400.
“If you get multiple guys in an event it’s almost like winning an event,” Davis said. “In the 100 we got nine points. In the long jump we got 12 points. That’s better than winning an event with just one guy.”
In the end, it all added up to North winning its first boys track title in 11 years and the third in the school’s history. Davis was an assistant to former North coach Kris Solsberg on the 2007 and 2005 state champions.
One good leap
Richardson needed only one try at 6-9 to break the Class 5 record of 6-8 set last season by Caleb Furnell of Lee’s Summit West. He took two stabs at 6-11 ½ , which would have exceeded his personal-best 6-10 jump earlier this season then decided to call it a day and get out of the 90-degree heat.
“I was feeling good about all my jumps,” said Richardson, who also placed fourth in the Class 5 boys triple jump. “But my shins were starting to hurt and I decided to shut it down.”
Another good leap
Lee’s Summit senior KC Lightfoot was doubtful at first he would have an 18-foot day. Early morning rains has pushed the first-day schedule back almost three hours and later turned the day into a sauna.
But 18-foot pole vaults became almost routine for Lightfoot late in the season. He cleared 18 feet again Friday to win the Class 5 boys pole vault and set a new all-class meet record in the process.
“I felt good at the opening but it took me three to get over 17-8,” Lightfoot said. “I didn’t know if I was feeling it either, to be honest.”
Lightfoot didn’t make his first attempt until 16-0, and when he made that on the first try the state title was his. He needed just one try to get over 17-1 and beat the old mark of 17-0 held by Chris Nilsen of Park Hill since 2015.
Lightfoot actually recorded Missouri’s all-time best when he cleared 18-5 at districts two weeks ago. But that mark seemed far away as he struggled first at 17-8 before clearing it on his third try.
And when he hit 18-0 on his third attempt, it marked six weeks in a row he had cleared that height.
Lightfoot made three tries at 18-5 ½ for a new personal record and Missouri best but didn’t come close on any. Still, it was quite an exit for Lightfoot, who will next compete for Baylor.
“I’m glad I ended on an 18-foot jump,” Lightfoot said. “That’s a pretty good season.”
Lightfoot was one of three Lee’s Summit athletes to reach the podium and earn all-state status. Freshman Johnny Brackins placed seventh in the 110 hurdles, and Micah Manning was fourth in the 200 and seventh in the 100.
“I wanted to medal in all four,” said Manning, who was also raced on the Tigers’ 800 and 400 relays in the preliminaries. “I got two out of four so that’s all right.”
One busy Titan
Lee’s Summit West junior Vonzell Kelley got familiar with climbing the podium Saturday. Kelley had just stepped down from the risers after accepting his first place medal for the Class 5 110 hurdles when he was back to get his fourth-place medal from the Class 5 long jump.
Kelley ended his day with a third-place finish in the 300 hurdles. After missing most of the season while battling injuries, he was more than happy to get the extra exercise.
“This was only my third meet of the season,” Kelley said. “So I was happy with what I did.”
West also took fifth place in the Class 5 boys 3,200 relay. Will Carroll was eighth in the 1,600.