Whiteside, Snyder already have one each; CHS could max out at nine Saturday

JEFFERSON CITY Through six of the seven girls' events and both boys' events in which Chillicothe High School athletes were to compete today (Friday, May 24) in the Class 3 MSHSAA Track-and-Field State Championships, CHS entrants had earned two top-4 state medals and qualified for four Saturday track-event finals where, barring disqualification, those athletes also will earn state medals.
Highlighting today's Day 1 performances by the 16 Hornets and Lady Hornets who advanced to state in a 35-year-high dozen events was the third-place finish in the shot put by Alec Whiteside. The newly-graduated Hornet followed a foul on his first of three preliminary-round heaves with a solid toss of 55'9-1/4" on his second attempt. That made it certain he'd be among the nine finalists and was the top throw after two rounds. However, Will Fife of Jefferson City: Helias uncorked what would stand as the winning toss of the competition – 57'7-3/4" on his third throw and Maryville's Caleb Mather also moved past Whiteside on his third try at 57'3". While neither of those would do any better on their last three attempts, Whiteside fouled on two of his last four toss and had a best of 55' on his two "good" puts, leaving him to hold third place, one notch lower than he finished as both a sophomore and junior.
A dual medalist in the throws last year, Whiteside will try to match that Saturday when he participates in the discus throw at 2 p.m.
Also earning a state medal today was junior triple jumper Lexi Snyder. The tall Lady Hornet, making her second-straight appearance at state in the event, propelled herself 35'11-1/2" to place fourth. She had taken fifth place last year with a jump of 35'2-1/2". Her best jump Friday came on her second-to-last of six attempts as she completed a consistent day in which she opened with a 35' leap that put her in excellent position to reach the finals and then went 35'7-1/4" or farther in each of her attempts in the finals. The winner was Sydney Deeken of California, also a junior, who sailed 37'4-1/2" to win by more than a foot.
When Saturday rolls around, in addition to Whiteside in the discus throw and sophomore Lauren Jones in the pole vault, Chillicothe will have five race finalists, as well.
Junior Erin Gilliland, runner-up in the 300-meters low hurdles as a freshman before not making the finals last year, advanced to the finals in both the 100-meter intermediates and 300 lows today. Her time of 15.7 seconds in the intermediates was second-fastest, although 0.61 seconds behind DeSoto's Kendra Perren in the other heat. In the lows, the Chillicothean zipped across the barriers in 45.52 seconds, third-fastest behind Perren and overall leader Anna Houston of Union.
Gilliland's chances of improving on those times and positions, particularly in the 300 lows – or even matching them – will be challenged by the fact that she ran four races (going no farther than 400 meters in any) Friday. Her run in the low hurdles Saturday will be her seventh of the maximum-possible eight races.
That's because the whippet-quick junior also is on the Chillicothe 400- and 1,600-meters relay teams which competed and advanced today.
By a photo finish, the 400 unit of Madison Williams, Olivia Hayes, Mackenzie Barnett, and Gilliland snared the eighth and last spot in Saturday's finals with its clocking of 50.06 seconds, a whisker faster than St. Louis' Mary Institute/Country Day School, which was in the same heat and was timed electronically in 50.07, .01 back of CHS and left out of the finals.
In the 1,600 relay, the Chillicothe "all-grades" quartet of sophomore Ali Stephens, freshman Claire Chapman, junior Gilliland, and senior Williams again seized the final qualifying spot, finishing in 4:05.85. Their margin of error – aided by the longer race length – was a more-comfortable 1.46 seconds.
The third Lady Hornets relay team at state also moved on to Saturday's 800 (4x200) finals after having the seventh-best time of the 16 entrants Friday. That unit – Isis Baker, Hayes, Williams, and Chapman – went around the track twice in 1:46.76. That gave it a 0.43-second cushion over the ninth-fastest finisher and put it on target for a medal tomorrow.
Three Chillicothe state participants had to settle Friday for knowing that they'd accomplished the remarkable achievement of qualifying for the top level of competition.
In the boys' 800-meters relay, the Hornets' group of Zach Alperin, Kameron Allen, DeEll Midgyett, and Mason Hayward ran a fine 1.32.5 time, but were only 12th out of the 16 teams and thus did not qualify for Saturday's finals and a medal. All four are underclassmen.

Hornets high jumper David Hershberger could jump no better than 5'10" Friday, leaving him in 13th place.
Another underclassman, Lady Hornets junior Paige Peters, gave it her best shot on her last attempt in the preliminary round of the shot put, getting off her best throw of the day at 35'1-3/4". However, that ranked her only 11th overall, missing a chance to throw three more times by two spots and just under one foot. Even if she had matched her sectional distance of 37'5-1/2" of six days earlier, Peters would have missed eighth place and a medal by 2-1/2 inches.