The Marshfield track and field progrrm took 13 of their top varsity athletes to West Plains for the Class 4 Section 1 state sectional meet on Saturday and took the place by storm, qualifying eight of those athletes in 10 events for Friday and Saturday’s state championship meet in Jefferson City.
The medal count for the Lady Jays includes two golds from sophomore sprinter Brianna Utecht, who came out in front in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. In the 400-meter, Utecht also hauled in a silver, finishing just .02 of a second behind Bolivar’s Trinity Williamson.
Pulling bronze for the girls were senior Destiny Skidmore, who cleared a new Marshfield record with 11 feet, six inches, in the pole vault, and sophomore Alliyah Joiner, who crossed the finish line just .12 seconds behind the second-place finisher in the 300-meter hurdles.
Joiner also contributed to a third-place finish in the 4x100 meter relay. That team, which was reconfigured after freshman Kiana Massie suffered an ACL injury at last week’s district meet, consisted of Joiner, sophomore Baylee Hayes, junior Emily Aldridge and senior Emma Hungerford. Despite competing together for the first time, the group of girls finished less than half a second behind the leading team from Cape Girardeau’s Notre Dame Regional High.
It was a bright surprise to contrast with an unfortunate one in an earlier event. The 4x200 team, which featured Utecht in place of Aldridge and was favored to medal, suffered a costly mishap with the baton that put them at the very end of the pack.
Rounding out the state qualifying performances for the girls, though, was Hungerford, who muscled her way into the fourth-place slot in the 200-meter dash, giving the Jays two athletes to represent them at that event in Jefferson City.
All told, the Marshfield girls netted 55 points as a team to finish sixth in a field of 21.
Head Marshfield track and field coach Roy Kaderly noted that while the raw times for the sprinters didn’t look terribly impressive, it was a day where everyone was running a bit more slowly as they faced 30 mph headwinds.
“I think, for that reason, we’re going to probably shock a few people at state,” said Kaderly. “I won’t mind taking them by surprise and showing them what we can do.”
Those headwinds make an accomplishment by the boys 4x100 relay team all the more impressive. The team, consisting of sophomore Daylon Kanengieter and seniors Garrison Foster, Tristan Greenfield and Jacob Villines, notched a personal-best finish of 44.69 seconds, just .02 of a second shy of the Marshfield record in that event. Surprisingly, the almost half-second improvement over their previous best was only enough to earn them sixth place in an extremely competitive field. Three of the four will end their high school careers with that high mark in the event.
Other Marshfield boys did qualify for the state event. Freshman Peyton McBride, who qualified for sectionals with fourth-place district finishes in both the long jump and triple jump, landed just shy of state qualification in the form event but soared to unexpected lengths in the latter, claiming second in the triple jump and setting a new school record in the process with a 44-foot, nine-inch, leap.
Senior Keegan O’dell also took second in his event with a 51-foot, one-and-a-half-inch throw in shot put. Tristan Greenfield, meanwhile, netted the boys their third silver medal with a 14-foot, six-inch clearance in the pole vault.
Overall, Coach Kaderly said he mainly feels a sense of promise from Saturday’s competition, noting that he can’t remember the last time Marshfield advanced so many athletes to the top level of competition in Missouri.
“Our kids are peaking at the right time, so I’m really proud of the way they’ve pushed at this point in the season,” he said. “It makes me feel really good about the future of the program with so many of our younger kids showing this kind of determination, but also really thankful for everything these seniors have done to improve us so much.”