Track and field athletes from Monroe City, Mark Twain and Marion County advanced through sectionals Saturday and will compete in the state championships.
McKenzie West knew she had more in her.
The Monroe City junior put in extra work last week to make sure her season would not end on a disappointing note.
West saved her best performance of the season for Saturday as she captured a sectional championship in the javelin.
The junior tossed the javelin a personal best 123 feet, 2 inches at Hillsboro High School as she advanced to the Class 2 state championships for a second straight year.
“It felt really good,” West said. “I have had kind of a rough throwing season. Up until now, I was throwing worse than I had at the first meet this season and even this time last year.”
West credited her throwing coaches for her success, which resulted in an increase of 10-plus feet from her third-place toss at the district meet.
“Coach (David) Kirby and coach (Rick) Baker put in a lot of extra effort with me in staying after practice so I would be ready for sectionals,” West stated. “Ultimately, I think that is what helped me get the win and a PR.”
West’s day was made even more special as senior teammate Haleigh St. Clair also advanced to the state meet. St. Clair placed fourth in the javelin.
“My goal was to get back to state this year, and I am even happier now that I get to go back with Haleigh,” the junior said.
Monroe City placed fourth overall in the team standings with 68 points. Jefferson Festus won the title with 138 points, while Clarence Cannon Conference foe Clark County finished second with 89 points.
Bailey Hays advanced to the state meet in two events for the Lady Panthers. The sophomore finished second in the 3,200 meters and third in the 1,600. Hays finished the two-mile race with a time of 12 minutes, 46.33 seconds and crossed the finish line in the 1,600 in 5:49.84.
Lila Yager took third in the pole vault. The sophomore, who placed seventh last year in the state meet, cleared 8-6, which also ended up being the winning mark. Yager ended up third due to a higher number of scratches before reaching the mark.
Junior Skyler Kauble continued her season in the 100 hurdles with a fourth-place finish. Kauble, running track for the first time since middle school, finished with a time of 17.35.
Cearia Wardlow was the Lady Panthers' only other individual state qualifier as she placed fourth in the 800. Wardlow crossed the finish line with a time of 2:37.38. The sophomore narrowly missed advancing in the long jump with a fifth-place finish.
The Lady Panthers 3,200 relay team of Hays, Wardlow, Lauren Youngblood and Hannah Wheeler rounded out the state qualifiers with a third-place finish. The quartet recorded a time of 10:45.42.
In the boys meet, Monroe City finished 11 points behind Cleveland NJROTC for the team title.
The Panthers, who defeated Cleveland NJROTC last week to claim the district team title, was paced by Parker Yager (pole vault) and Dominic Sprague (discus).
Yager cleared 14-0 to win the pole vault.
“Parker continues to improve in his technique and execution,” Panthers coach David Kirby said of his senior all-state vaulter. “He looks poised to have another great state meet.”
Sprague’s best mark in the discus went for 142-11.
“Dominic is continuing to excel in the discuss,” Kirby stated. “He is confident in the ring and really going after the throws.”
C.E. Talton and Zach Osborn set personal records in the triple jump and long jumps, respectively.
Talton placed second with a best mark of 45-7 ½ in the triple jump, while Osborn leaped to third in the long jump with a best jump of 20-7 ½.
Talton and Osborn teamed up with Blake Hays and Dalton McAfee for a second-place finish in the 800 relay. The quartet finished in a time of 1:32.24.
Hays placed second in the 400 (50.73) and third in the 200 (22.7).
Logan Maher soared to third in the pole vault at 12 feet.
McAfee and Kaelin Kendrick-O'Bryan rounded out the Panthers' state qualifiers. McAfee turned in a fourth-place finish in the javelin with a throw of 135-4, while Kendrick-O'Bryan finished fourth in the 3,200 in 10:41.83.
Mark Twain’s Devin Neff also will be joining the Panthers in the state championships.
The senior distance runner placed second in the 3,200 (10:35.25) and third in the 1,600 (4:42.71).
“I am excited to be able to give it my all at state and leave it all on the track,” the Hannibal-LaGrange University signee said. “It was very challenging for me to keep pushing in the heat, but I just ran my race. I just have to thank my family and friends for always pushing me to go the extra mile.”
Marion County junior Sadie Spratt advanced to the Class 1 state meet with a third-place sectional finish in the triple jump (33-7) at Oakville High School on Saturday.
"Very proud of Sadie," Lady Mustangs coach Margaret Keilholz said. "She jumped close to her personal best at sectionals. She has improved all year long, and it is a fitting reward that she gets to go to state."
The Class 1 and 2 state championships will commence Friday at Adkins Stadium on the campus of Jefferson City High School. The meet will conclude on Saturday.