Marshfield High School track and field put up a program-best showing in this year’s Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 4 state championship meet in Washington on Saturday, collecting 11 total medals across eight events.
After Wednesday night storms and tornadoes devastated Jefferson City, the original venue of the meet, Friday’s planned preliminaries were postponed and squeezed together with finals, and the event was moved to Washington, which is located in the east-central region of the state.
“It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour trip, and there weren’t really enough hotels in the area, so we stayed in Union on Friday,” said Marshfield head track and field coach Roy Kaderly. “But we’ve talked a lot about being mentally tough and rolling with the punches. When it came to the last-minute schedule, we talked about how some people wouldn’t handle it well, and how we could get a leg up by being the group that did handle it well.”
One effect of the rescheduling was the removal of preliminaries in several events, including all relays and runs beyond 200 meters. Instead, these events divided participants into two heats based on seeding from sectionals. For the Marshfield girls, who put up atypically slower times due to high winds and use of alternates in sectionals, this meant consignment to the slower heats in the 2x100 relay, the 400-meter dash and the 300-meter hurdles.
Having slower opponents to run against is considered a substantial disadvantage when it comes to clocking a strong time on the track, but the Lady Jays somehow seemed to turn it in their favor. Sophomore Alliyah Joiner shattered her previous personal best in the 300-meter hurdles by more than a second and a half, taking sixth place and breaking a 20-year Marshfield record in the process. The finish of 45.26 seconds was just a few thousandths of a second shy of the fifth-place finisher.
Sophomore speedster Brianna Utecht had similar results in the slow heat of the 400-meter dash, putting up a personal-best time of 59.42 seconds to take fifth in that event, and both girls made the most of the slow heat along with senior Emma Hungerford and junior Baylee Hayes in the 4x100 relay. There, the Lady Jays put up their second-best time of the year (49.52 seconds) for a fourth-place finish despite the loss of freshman Kiana Massey to a district meet ACL tear.
“There was a lot of adversity around losing Kiana, so we’ve had to work and put together different running orders and adjust handoff zones,” said Kaderly, who fielded Hayes in Massey’s place for the state meet. “And they ran the absolute best race they could run. That was the highlight of the meet for me — seeing those kids overcome.”
Utecht took two more individual medals on the day, bringing her total count to four. The sophomore sprinter claimed improved performances from last year’s state meet to take sixth place in the 200-meter dash (25.77 seconds) and eighth in the 100-meter (12.69 seconds).
Hungerford also ran in the 200-meter event, and although she did not medal, the senior logged a new personal record of 27.09 to place 16th in Missouri Class 4.
“Emma put everything she had into that run, and the results were amazing,” said Kaderly. “Her last race was her best — there’s not much more you can ask of an athlete.”
Another senior, Destiny Skidmore, rounded out the medal count to nine for the Marshfield girls with a sixth-place finish in pole vault. Skidmore has been a consistent top finisher for the team for years and finishes her high school career improving over her junior campaign’s seventh-place finish.
The Blue Jay boys squad, meanwhile, featured fewer representatives at Saturday’s state championship, but put up a strong performance nonetheless.
Freshman Peyton McBride didn’t quite reach the school-record lengths in the triple jump that he hit during sectionals, but he wasn’t far off, and his 44-foot, seven-and-three-quarters-inch leap was sufficient to outperform his ninth-place seed and land the eighth-place slot for another Marshfield medal.
In pole vault, senior Tristan Greenfield sailed to sixth place with a 14-foot clearance that improved upon last year’s seventh-place state championship vault by three inches.
Only Keegan Odell came away empty-handed with an 11th-place, 46-foot, seven-and-a-half-inch throw in the shot put. According to Coach Kaderly, the senior, a consistent top five finisher all season, simply had an off day at an inopportune time. “A 48-five would have medaled him,” Kaderly reported. “All week he was throwing fifty plus feet in practice.”
Overall, though, the coach was plenty happy with the 11-medal haul, the largest in the history of the program.
“More than anything, I’m proud of how the kids have come together this year, and all of their hard work. I’m proud of the way they’ve continued to believe they can do it and capitalized on the opportunities when they came up,” said Kaderly. “Looking forward to returning several of our kids and adding to those numbers next year.”