Eagles Send Eight To State. Four Area Runners Win Sectional Gold Medals
By David Sharp
Knox County’s girls’ 4x800 meter relay team battled a cold wind for a silver medal in the May 14 Class 1 Centralia Track and Field Sectional.
The state qualifying effort set the tone for eight Knox County events to make the MSHSAA Class 1 Track and Field Championships, scheduled for May 20-21 at Jefferson City.
Complete District and Sectional track results are available on the Internet at www.trxctiming.com
Brandon Baird threatened the school record, winning the 300 meter hurdles. Baird remained unbeaten in the boy’s 110m hurdles competition. Knox County won the girls’ 4x400 meter relay by over 20 meters.
Daniel Anderson eclipsed the field, winning the boy’s 100 meter dash for Brashear. Anderson also qualified in the boy’s 200 meter dash. Brashear made the state track meet in the boy’s 4x100 meter relay.
Participants from the length of the Eastern portion of Missouri competed for the right to compete in the MSHSAA Class 1 and 2 Track and Field championships. Athletes finishing in the top four of each event made the elite field.
“We qualified in eight events. Brandon Baird won both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles,” Knox County coach Alex VanDelft said. “The girls 4x4 came out and ran their best race of the year.”
“This is a good time to do it. I am just excited for the kids,” Coach VanDelft said. “They have been working all year to get to this state competition, they are finally there. I think they are going to peak at the right time.”
Knox County qualified in one event last season. The Lady Eagles won fourth place medals in the Class 2 girls’ 4x800 meter relay. Current Culver Stockton College women’s basketball player Lorrie Peters was the lone graduate off that foursome.
“Dropping down from Class 2 to Class 1 helped quite a bit,” Alex VanDelft said. “Coach John Weaver built the groundwork for a great track team. I am taking it from there and hopefully improving it just a little bit,” said the first year Knox County R-I teacher and coach.
The Lady Eagles got off to a strong start in the girls’ 4x800m relay. Marion County won the gold medals in 10:35.78 seconds. Anchor runner Kelsey Cahalan raced past St. Genevieve Valle Catholic for the silver medals. Mackenzie Hustead, Suzanne Howerton and Samantha Bryant joined Kelsey Cahalan in the opening race on the track.
The Eagles got off to a good start but were out distanced in the boy’s 4x800 meter relay. Sharri Edwards, Leighton McCabe, Alex Howerton and Jesse Miller placed fifth overall in 9:09.91 seconds. Chaffee won the 3200m relay in 8:30. Valle Catholic, Chamois and Marion County (8:50) were the state qualifiers.
Brandon Baird dominated the field in the boy’s 110m hurdles. The top seeded runner won his first of two Sectional gold medals in 15.92 seconds. Novinger’s Trevor Stocks was second in both hurdles events.
“The weather wasn’t that great today, but I gave it my best,” Brandon Baird said after the 300m hurdles. “I’m pretty happy about going home with two firsts. I had a bad start out of the blocks in the 110m hurdles.”
“I hit a few hurdles, but I came back and passed everybody,” Brandon Baird said. The former Novinger HS runner talked about his Wildcat teammate Trevor Stocks.
“Ever since (Trevor Stocks) started running the hurdles he has gotten better,” Brandon Baird told the Edina Sentinel. “It pushes me. I guess it’s good for both of us. I’m excited and looking forward to next week.”
Daniel Anderson bolted to the front of the pack in the boy’s 100 meter dash. The Brashear junior battled down the stretch for a gold medal in one of track and field’s signature events. Anderson finished in 11.79 seconds.
Brent Cowan finished seventh overall in 12.30 seconds. Knox County had participants in 15 Sectional events, rather than the 14 reported in last weeks’ Edina Sentinel. We regret the reporter’s error.
Kelsey Cahalan put on a spirited rush at the end but could not catch Paris runner Morgan Gittemeier (5:52.79) for the fourth and final qualifying slot in the girl’s 1600m relay. Cahalan finished the metric mile in 5:52.93 seconds.
Leighton McCabe hung with the top four in the boy’s 1600m run the entire race. Paris runner Marco Rehmeir won the gold medal in 4:47 seconds. Leighton McCabe qualified in fourth place in 4:49.48 seconds.
Knox County entered the boy’s 4x100m relay event seeded third behind eventual first and second place finishers Chaffee and Valle Catholic. The Eagles were in first place after the opening leg.
The first handoff started off well but ended in disaster. The Eagles were disqualified for not completing the baton handoff in the allotted space. The conference and district champion 4x100 meter team ended their season in disappointment.
“I felt sick for the kids,” Alex VanDelft said. “You have to perform at this level. Hopefully the younger kids will see this and learn from it.” Senior Damon Hemmerling closed his great two year Knox County career. Junior Sharri Edwards, sophomore Brent Cowan and Brandon Baird ran the 4x1 for Knox County.
Knox County adversity turned to opportunity for the remaining seven teams. Hayden Housman, Joseph Woods, Marcus Jefferson and Daniel Anderson qualified with a fourth place 4x100m time of 48.73 seconds. LaPlata was third in 47.76 seconds.
Kelsey Cahalan placed seventh overall in the girl’s 400 meter dash in 1:10.38 seconds. Marion County freshman Destiny Johnson took the 400m dash gold medal in 1:03.91 seconds.
Joseph Woods was nipped at the finish line, finishing fifth in the boy’s 400 meter dash in 55.70 seconds. Ryan Uhlmeyer of Canton was second and Terry Gholson of Paris joined two Chaffee runners in the top four.
Knox County sophomore Mackenzie Hustead recently began running the 300 meter hurdles. Hustead qualified for the state track meet in her sixth track meet with one practice session with a time of 51.47 seconds.
“It is a little nerve wracking. I finished fourth, so I am going to have a lot of competition in the state track meet,” Mac Hustead said after the race. “I’m really happy to be going to state. Going 3 for 3 on the day is exciting.” Hustead is a member of the Lady Eagle 4x4 and 4x8 relay teams.
Brandon Baird won his fourth career Sectional hurdles championship, winning the 300m hurdles gold medal in 42.16 seconds. Trevor Stocks was second for Novinger in 43.02 seconds.
Matthew Matheney was third for the Wildcats in 43.77 seconds. Seth Shurvington of Bevier completed the Northeast Missouri sweep in a fourth place time of 43.90 seconds.
Junior Randi Lee Plunkett won the girl’s 800 meters for Marion County in 2:31.61 seconds. Plunkett will compete in her third straight state track meet. Canton’s Josie Walsh had a strong day, wining the 800 meter silver medal.
Michael Hopkins won the 200 meter dash for Chamois in 23.78 seconds. Knox County sophomore Brent Cowan stepped up and qualified with the bronze medal in 23.98 seconds. Daniel Anderson was next in 24.03 seconds, qualifying the Tiger sprinter in three events.
Josie Walsh won the girls’ 3200 meter run in 12:41 seconds. The Canton sophomore also captured the 1600 meter gold medal in 5:33.20 seconds.
Leighton McCabe battled the field for a state qualifying fourth place finish in the boy’s 3200 meter run with a time of 11:06.33 seconds. Marco Rehmeir was second at 10:38 seconds. Valle Catholic claimed the top and third slot.
Kathleen Hinkle had the look of a hungry Tiger in her eyes just before the start of the girl’s 4x400 meter relay. Hinkle is a main stay on the Lady Eagle’s two time conference championship basketball team and the district runner up softball club. “I had one lap, and then I am done” Kathleen Hinkle said after the race. The Lady Eagles started in lane eight.
“I just wanted to do the best I could. I knew other people had better times than us,” Kathleen Hinkle said. “I was in a higher lane so I couldn’t see who was behind me.”
“It’s great to be in a part of Knox County (sports) that’s doing very well right now,” Hinkle said of the Lady Eagle success. “I’ve been very lucky to have good coaches and good people around me to help accomplish everything.”
Senior Suzanne Howerton expanded Knox County’s lead to over 20 meters. The Lady Eagles never gave up that margin, winning the gold medals in 4:25.33 seconds. Clopton was second in 4:29.57 seconds.
Suzanne Howerton is a 2008 district champion 400 meter dash runner as well as a district and sectional champion in 2011. “It’s a fantastic feeling. Watching Kathleen come out and get first was exciting. That (Clopton) girl got ahead of me,” Suzanne Howerton said of the second leg.
“We haven’t had too many chances to catch somebody this year. We have been so far ahead or so far behind. It was nice to have that shot,” Suzanne Howerton said.
“Going out in the state track meet in my senior year really means a lot to me,” Suzanne Howerton told the Edina Sentinel. Mackenzie Hustead turned on the jets and kept Knox County on top.
“This was a great end to a good day,” Mackenzie Hustead said. “We have eight events going to state. That’s seven more events than last year. It’s a great feeling for us to come here and compete. We did what we knew we can do.”
Kelsey Cahalan turned the final corner alone. There was nothing but black asphalt and the cheers of the crowd between Knox County and their third Sectional gold medal of the day.
Kelsey Cahalan talked about the success Knox County’s track program has had this season. “It is great for Brandon (Baird). This is his senior year. I kicked it on the last turn. When I crossed the finish line, I realized that no one was even close.”
Brandon Baird and Leighton McCabe scratched out of the triple jump and 800 meter events respectively.
Valle Catholic won the girls’ team championship with 106 points. LaPlata was second with 76 points. Marion County took third with 54 girl’s points. Knox County finished 11th in the final Sectional girls’ point standings with 29 points.
Valle Catholic won the boy’s team title with 148 points. Chaffee was second with 70.50 points. Chamois was third with 67 followed by Paris at 63 and Knox County seventh with 33.50 points.
Novinger was sixth followed by LaPlata, Canton and Brashear in ninth place with 24 points. North Shelby finished tenth overall with 19 points.