Sophia Rush had a wide grin as she hopped off the podium on Friday in front of the grandstands at Jefferson City High School. Not even watching a gold medal slip from her grasp could spoil the West Platte freshman’s day.
Rush took the lead at the gun in the Class 1 girls 1,600-meter run in the Missouri Class 1-2 state track meet and appeared headed to a wire-to-wire win. That was until Ashley Riley of Jefferson Conception Junction caught and passed her with 100 meters to go.
Riley went on to win in 5 minutes, 28.22 seconds, and Rush had to settle for second right on her heels at 5:30.85.
Crushing? Not one bit.
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“I started to get fatigued by then, and Ashley’s really good,” Rush said. “I’m not mad about anything; I’m glad I got second place.”
Rush had raced against Riley before, so she knew what she was in for. Riley never let Rush open much of a lead, and the two were running almost shoulder to shoulder over the final 400 meters.
“We’ve been going neck and neck since sectionals and districts,” said Rush, who has beaten Riley in the 3,200 but not in the 1,600. “It’s the only time I get to race against her, and it’s so much fun when I get to race against her.”
Rush will get to race Riley again Saturday in the Class 1 girls 3,200, and she will also run on West Platte’s 3,200 relay.
That helped ease the sting of coming up just short of a state title. That and the fact she’s only a freshman
“I’m off to a really good start,” she said.
Best shot sticks
Drexel senior Alyssa Harper found little comfort starting the Class 1 girls shot put atop the leaderboard.
Harper watched nervously as the rest of the field tried to exceed the 39-foot 1-inch toss she unleashed on her second throw in prelims. Nobody else matched it, and she embellished her victory with a 39-11 ¼ mark in the finals.
“It was kind of more stressful because everybody kept coming closer and closer,” Harper said. “And I was just like, oh I’ve got to get better.”
Harper got better on her last attempt, which was still short of her 40-7 personal best. It did however help her relax and enjoy her last high school meet a little more.
“My coach has been hyping me up all week, telling me this week is your final week,” Harper said. “So I just came out here and did my best.”
Jesse Schultz of Lutheran finished strong to claim second place in the Class 1 boys 3,200 meters. Schultz, a junior, also joined Nathanial Fisher, Jackson Horn, and Christian Hinrichs to take third place in the Class 1 boys 3,200 relay.
Max Davies of West Platte finished third behind Schultz in the Class 1 boys 3,200.
Christien Robins of Lutheran qualified for the finals in the 100- and 200-meter dash. Robins had the fastest qualifying time of 11.20 seconds in the 100 and the second-fastest time in the 200.
Robins was third in the Class 1 boys 100 and 200 last season.
University Academy sophomore Ariyonna Baston topped the qualifiers for the Class 2 girls 100 and 200 finals. Baston posted a 12.37 in the 100 and a 25.35 in the 200, an event she placed second in last season.
Drexel also has a double-qualifier in Aaron Woods, who posted the best time in the 300 hurdles (41.16 seconds) and fourth-best in the 110 hurdles.