Highland Cougars Win
Five Medals at State
Track Meet. Roger Morse
3200 Meter Champion
By David Sharp
Roger Morse raced into the MSHSAA record books, winning the Class 2 boys’ 3200 meter run in a personal best 9:46.94 seconds. The Highland senior brought home a medal in the Class 2 boys’ 1600 meter event in another personal best time of 4:28 seconds.
The 3200 meter gold medal was Highland’s first boys’ state track top finish since Jerrill Humphrey won the triple jump event in 2002.
Curtis Smith won a sixth place medal in the boys’ triple jump traveling 42’11 ¾”. John Mims, Adrien Clay, Caleb Tasco and Curtis Smith won seventh place medals in the Class 2 boys’ 4x100 meter relay in 45.66 seconds.
Clarence Cannon Conference girls’ sprint champion Alexis Clay qualified seventh in the 200 meter dash preliminary round, and won the Class 2 girls’ sixth place medal with a final time of 26.52 seconds.
Highland repeated at eighth in the overall Class 2 boys’ team standings. The Cougars tied with Carrolton at 19 points. Malden won the Class 2 boys’ title with 73 points. Trenton was third with 50.50 points.
The Cougars were second overall among Northeast district boys’ teams. Highland tied with Brookfield and four other Class 2 girls’ teams for 41st place with three points.
Canton freshman Tori Niemann brought home a Class 2 girls’ seventh place medal in the triple jump at 34’8”. Niemann participated in the Class 2 girls’ high jump but was hampered by injury and did not clear the bar.
Area Track Championships highlights included Clark County senior Courtney Shuman winning the Class 2 girls’ long and triple jump events. Knox County took home three Class 1 girls’ medals and finished 21st overall with 11.5 points. Katie Ausmus won the second fourth place medal in school history, narrowly missing the bronze medal in the Class 1 girls’ 3200 meter run.
KCHS senior Morgan Nunan tied for sixth in the high jump and was part of a girls’ 4x200m relay team that took fifth place in Class 1. Knox County dropped from Class 2 into Class 1 in track this season.
Highland senior Curtis Smith overcame a leg problem in the Sectionals and traveled 42’11 ¾” for the sixth place triple jump medal. Curtis Smith previously won the CCC boys’ triple jump title along with dominating NEMO boys’ triple jumping this season.
Jordan Maxwell of Linn HS won the Class 2 boys’ triple jump gold medal at 44’8”. “My legs were a little tired after running the 4x200,” said Curtis Smith of the state triple jump competition. “After a got my legs under me, I started jumping better. My third jump was almost 43 feet. We had a little break in there because of the running events. My legs tightened up on me, and I didn’t do so well in the finals.”
Highland finished 12th overall in the boys’ 4x200 meter relay and did not make the finals. John Mims, Caleb Tasco, Curtis Smith and Adrien Clay turned in a 1:35.05 second time in the preliminary round.
The same group of Cougar sprinters edged into the 4x100 meter relay finals, finishing eighth in the preliminary round at 45.70 seconds. The Cougars stepped up in the finals and won seventh place state medals in 45.66 seconds.
“Yesterday we came out and our handoffs weren’t that good,” said Curtis Smith about the 400m relay preliminary race. “We barely qualified. Today we came out and got our handoffs pretty good. I thought we got sixth but it was a close call.” Curtis Smith will attend Central Methodist College and play basketball. Highland has had a very good year in all their sports.
“We had a really good run in all the sports I played in during the last four years,” said Curtis Smith. “We had really good seasons in basketball my junior and senior years. We got to state in the 4x1 and in the triple jump last year. I had already been here from last year, and I ended up doing better than what I should have done last year.”
Josie McCracken thrilled fans all over Northeast Missouri when she swept the 2006 Clarence Cannon Conference, Brookfield district and Class 2 state championships in the girls’ 100 and 200 meter dash events.
McCracken was unable to defend her championships because of an injury suffered during the Hannibal Relays. Alexis Clay stepped up and seized the moment, keeping the 2007 CCC girls’ sprint championships for the Lady Cougar track team.
Alexis Clay qualified for the Class 2 girls’ 200 meter dash finals after placing tenth in the state 100m dash at 13.06 seconds. Clay got off to a good start in the finals, only to fade after the turn. Alexis Clay earned the 2007 girls’ 200 meter dash sixth place medal with a time of 26.52 seconds.
“I’m proud of myself,” said the Lady Cougar sophomore. “I think I did great. Maybe I’ll be back next year. I think my legs gave out after the turn going into the straight.” Highland track fans have a lot to look forward to next season.
Those same fans have enjoyed seeing Roger Morse dominate boys’ distance running for the last three years. The Missouri Southern State bound senior ran away with Clarence Cannon Conference distance records and championships. He was seriously challenged very few times until the state or sectional rounds during what should go down as a brilliant high school running career.
Roger Morse won a 2006 Class 2 sixth place medal in the 1600 meters and took second to current Mizzou Tiger runner Larry Paul (Wright City HS) in the 3200 meter run.
He broke his personal best time of 4:30 seconds in the Class 2 metric mile run crossing the finish line in 4:28 seconds good for a fifth place medal on day one. Morse placed tenth in the boys’ 800 meter run in 2:03.85 seconds.
Roger Morse kept the lead from the opening gun in the final race of his high school track career, the Class 2 boys’ 3200 meter run. Three runners broke the ten minute mark in a very good race. Roger Morse went out a winner, finishing in a gold medal time of 9:46.94 seconds.
“Roger has got a special place, because I know he works his (tail) off,” said Highland coach Jim Coniglio. “It’s different for him. Not a lot of kids in the area have the talent he has, so he doesn’t get pushed a lot. We try to do different things in practice. Obviously the things we have done in the last three weeks have worked pretty well.”
“He has always ran his fastest times at state,” said Coach Coniglio. “He did not want to win the state championship without running sub ten (minutes in the 3200 meters).”
“He did, and he won. That was a goal that we set, and a goal that we got. That’s why I am so excited for him. Overall we have had the most places in different events since I have been here. I’m happy for them. They worked hard and it’s good to go out on top.”
Jim Coniglio previously announced that he will join the Hannibal High School football coaching staff and coach wrestling for the Pirates next season. He leaves Highland after six years as an assistant then head football coach, girls’ assistant basketball coach and head track coach.
Roger Morse talked about his 2007 state track performance. “I wanted to be sure my family could see me up there,” said Morse of the gold medal presentation. “I’m used to getting first in Northeast Missouri, but when you go to state and get first it’s definitely an honor to stand up there.”
“I definitely wanted to get out there and get under five minutes in that first mile, said Morse talking about the 3200 meter final. “I wanted to keep all my laps under 1:15. That’s what I did. Coach (Jim Coniglio) was telling me ‘1:13, 1:14’. I had nothing left (in the final 200 meters). It’s hard to keep on running and not just stop, but when you have 300 meters left and you are in first you just have to do what you have to do to keep it.”
“It sounded like people were starting to creep up on me. I knew that some of them would have a pretty good kick,” said Morse. “I gave it all I had and got first place. It’s sad seeing Coach Coniglio leave, but he is going on to something better. Hopefully he will do good at Hannibal, and I will do good in college.”
“Missouri Southern has a good education program and a pretty young track program,” said the future history teacher. Roger Morse will run cross country and distance events at Joplin.