The Monroe City boys track and field team slipped past Palmyra by five points on Thursday as the rivals squared off at the CanSippi Relays.

Kaelin Kendrick-O'Bryan gave the Monroe City boys track and field team a spark to help beat an area rival by a sliver for the second time this season.

The junior raced to first place in the 800 meters by 21-hundredths of a second to earn crucial points at the CanSippi Relays on Thursday on the campus of Culver-Stockton College. 

Brock Boulware of Palmyra finished second in the event.

“That was pretty sweet right there,” Monroe City coach David Kirby said of Kendrick-O'Bryan's 2:11.51 finish. “The Boulware kid from Palmyra is a very, very game competitor, but Kaelin ended up pulling out that win and it was big.”

Monroe City won its third consecutive meet championship with 144.5 team points, while Palmyra finished five points behind to claim runner-up honors in the nine-school competition.

This meet came seven days after Monroe City edged Palmyra by three points to win a home invite.

“Our kids know Palmyra, and there's definitely some friendly competition and rivalry,” Kirby said of the Clarence Cannon Conference rival. “Having two schools that are pretty similar in a lot of things and so close location-wise, it's very fun to compete against them, and I think they say the same about us as well.”

Turns out Kirby is spot-on with his assessment.

“It is great to have a strong team like Monroe City as our rival,” Palmyra coach Shannon Haerr echoed. “Anytime you go against good competition, it pushes you to get better, and they have a good, balanced team.”

Blake Hays won the 400 meters for Monroe City with a time of 51.37 seconds to beat out Abe Haerr of Palmyra, who crossed in 55.34 to take second. 

Monroe City senior Parker Yager won the pole vault for the fifth straight meet by clearing 13 feet. Palmyra's Dylan Redd finished second at 12 feet, 6 inches, while teammate Braxton Long set a personal best of 11 feet, 6 inches to claim third.

Tristen Gottman posted a first-place finish for Palmyra in the triple jump at 38 feet, 7 inches.

“Tristen is a great kid and fun to coach,” coach Haerr said. “He has a lot of athletic ability and it shows in his versatility. He gets us a lot of points at each meet and continues to get better. If he keeps working hard and stays focused, he can accomplish some great things this year.”

Zach Osborn, Hays, Dalton McAfee and Keenan Batsell teamed up for Monroe City to win the 4x200 relay in 1:33.59, crossing five seconds faster than runner-up Palmyra.

Osborn, Hays, McAfee and Kendrick-O'Bryan claimed first in the 4x400 in 3:38.29, as Palmyra again took second. 

Palmyra's 4x800 team of Boulware, Haerr, Nick Mudd and Brett Griesbaum exacted revenge, however, as they pulled away to win the distance relay in 8:55. 

Griesbaum cemented first place with a strong anchor leg.

“That was a great race that showed the heart and determination of our guys,” coach Haerr said. “That was truly a team win. Griesbaum did an amazing job of closing a big gap in front of him to catch the runner in first and then held on down the stretch.” 

Hays sprinted to second for Monroe City in the 100 in 11.07, while Palmyra's Jarom Alexander crossed in third in 11.11. Alexander also was runner-up in the 200 in 23.35.

Kendrick-O'Bryan placed second in the 1,600 for Monroe City in 5:05.15, trailing only Clark County standout Nathan Frazee, who won in 4:56.71. Monroe City's Nathan Mehrer placed third in 5:09.59, while Griesbaum was fourth in 5:18.71 for Palmyra.

Griesbaum (11:27) and Mehrer (11:29) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 3,200.

Dominic Sprague earned second in the discus for Monroe City with a personal record of 143 feet, 7 inches.

Monroe City's Nolan Pennewell (300 hurdles) and Osborn (long jump) also recorded runner-up individual finishes. 

Kirby mentioned claiming the team title Thursday was another step in the right direction for his program.

“I'm proud of the kids and really look forward to seeing us continue to improve up into the championship series,” the Monroe City coach said.

Palmyra's Boyd Triplett and Monroe City's Aaron Plumb each set personal bests in the 100 hurdles. Triplett raced to second in 17.19, while Plumb was third in 17.50.

Haerr was second in the high jump for Palmyra at 5 feet, 10 inches.