Park Hill junior Christopher Nilsen smacked against the pole vault landing mat, and before he reached his feet, he clinched his fists as he shook them through the air. The vault that sprung the celebration — an even 16 feet — not only matched his best mark of the season, it equaled the top mark across Missouri.
But he wasn’t done yet.
“Up another 3 inches,” he told a team of officials at the Missouri Class 5, Sectional 4 meet.
Just one problem: The equipment wouldn’t allow it. The pole vault station in place didn’t exceed 16 feet.
In other words, Nilsen was off-the-charts good Saturday.
The vault earned him the sectional title at the North Kansas City District Activities Complex. The top four finishers in all events Saturday qualified for next week’s state meet.
It will be Nilsen’s first appearance at state after he improved his marks by nearly 4 feet this season. He also won the sectional high jump title.
“At the beginning of the year, I wanted to break the school record,” he said. “I did that in the second meet, but ever since then, I’ve just decided to keep pushing my goals further.”
Three months into his senior track season, Raytown runner Zack Penrod is still waiting on the perfect race — a mistake-free run in which he’s pushed to his limits.
In the meantime, this will do.
Penrod says he wasn’t perfect Saturday, but he was good enough in the Class 5, Sectional 4 1,600-meter run, which he won with a time of 4 minutes, 26.81 seconds.
He also qualified for state in the 800 meter run, finishing runner-up to Park Hill South senior Darrien Case.
“I haven’t had the season I really wanted to (have), but I think once I get into a competition next week with runners who are faster than me, I’m really going to be pushed,” Penrod said. “That’s what I’m really excited about.”
Pleasant Hill thrower wins two
The postseason has featured some unpleasant memories for Pleasant Hill junior Logan Blomquist.
As a sophomore last season, he took the top seed in the discus competition into the state meet, only to settle for fifth place at state. In the shot put, he missed state qualification by half an inch.
A year later, the postseason provided some much more satisfying results.
Blomquist won both the Class 4, Sectional 4 discus throw (181 feet, 9 inches) and the shot put (52 feet, 0.5 inches).
“I think nerves got to me last year. I don’t know what was going on,” Blomquist said. “You have to come in with your head straight, stay confident and let the nerves go, and I was able to do that today.”
Kearney freshman wins hurdles
In her first season running hurdles races, Kearney freshman Emma Couch has kept her goals relatively simple — she hopes to avoid an embarrassing fall, and she doesn’t want any last-place finishes.
On Saturday, there were no stumbles. And she was nowhere near last place.
Couch won the 100-meter hurdles, finishing in 16.2 seconds.
“I really wasn’t expecting to win, but I saw three of us were close at the end, so I told myself to just keep going,” Couch said.
Strong finish for LS West freshman
Over the course of her freshman season, Lee’s Summit West runner Jana Shawver has stuck to a routine in the 800-meter run, during which she prefers to speed up over the final 200 meters.
On Saturday, she found that next gear 50 meters earlier. And it led to a victory, which she completed in 2 minutes, 14.04 seconds.
“I wasn’t really excepting to win, but my legs just felt really good today,” Shawver said. “I (set a personal record) by 5 seconds, so I gained a lot of confidence from this race.”