CHS boys' nip Maryville for the Class 4 District 8 track-and-field crown at Richmond, winning seven events, including last race to snap deadlock with MHS' Spoofhounds. Hornets will send 11 entries to May 19 sectional in 10 events, Lady Hornets six in five

RICHMOND — Chillicothe High School’s boys’ track-and-field team cut it mighty close – almost too close – Saturday.
Seeking a third district crown in four years, the Hornets were tied with rival Maryville at 108 team points each entering the last event – the 1,600-meters relay – of the Class 3 District 8 meet at Richmond.
In a similar situation in the Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays just over five weeks earlier, the Hornets – protecting a 51⁄2-points lead, but without usual anchor man Brett Shaffer on the entered unit – had won that last race – with Richmond second and Maryville third – to repeat as meet champs.
This time, there was no leeway for either CHS or MHS. Whichever finished faster would take district team laurels.
With Shaffer, who already had won both hurdles races and been second in the 200-meters dash, set to run the final lap this time, Chillicothe figured to be difficult to beat in the rerun, barring an exchange or lane mishap.
The team title in the balance – not to mention advancement to next weekend’s sectional meet, the denouement developed more or less as scripted.
CHS leadoff runner Kaleb Mullikin, thrust into that role at season’s start when one member of the would-be intact returning unit that medaled at state last year was hurt and never able to return, fired out of the blocks well and had the lead for the Hornets after the first lap.
Middle runners Jacob Anderson and Isaak Rasche maintained and expanded that advantage until, following a careful, clean handoff, Shaffer “brought it home” with a nearly 4-seconds margin in a repeat of the CHS-Richmond-Maryville order of finish from the early April Chillicothe-hosted meet.
With the event win, the Hornets added the maximum 10 points to their total, leaving them with 118, four more than Maryville, which got six for its final-event finish. Richmond was a strong third in the boys’ team standings with 95.
Sharing the marquee with the district team title is the qualification of 13 CHS boys’ entries for this coming Saturday’s state-qualifying sectional at Odessa.
Those 13 entries include one relay (1,600) and will involve eight team members – district event champions Walker Graves, Jon Burk, Jack Willard, Shaffer, Rasche, Anderson, and Mullikin, and Jake Chapman, the fourth-place finisher in the pole vault.
The Lady Hornets thinclads fared about as expected at district, settling for fifth place in the team standings with 60 points, and sending entries to sectional in five events.
Junior Kylee Larson will go on in both hurdles races, while senior Molly Jones and sophomore Kennedy Corzette both will pole vault. Another 10th grader, Jor-dan Hibner, was second in the long jump – matching Larson’s runnerup showing in the 100-meters intermediate hurdles as CHS’ best at district.
Rounding out the CHS cadre of qualifiers are senior Elena Boon, junior Carly Beebe, sophomore Hunter Keithley, and frosh Emma Burk, who combined to take fourth in the 3,200 relay.
All told, the district meet saw Chillicothe runners, jumpers, or throwers win seven events, including a pair each by senior aces Graves and Shaffer, while advancing entries to Odessa in 10 boys’ events and half that many girls’. Of those 15 events, two – each gender’s pole vault – will see two CHS entries.
Just as at the past Saturday’s district competition, the coming sectional meet will require athletes to be in the top four of his or her event to extend their 2018 season one more stride – to the May 25-26 state meet.
“We will have to be ready to compete at Odessa,” Hornets head coach Bill Shaffer comments. “It sounds like the weather conditions at the other district (which will send its qualifiers to Odessa) were not ideal, so we can't go in expecting for them to repeat those performances.”
While the Chillicothe boys’ event winners and high finishers rightfully reap accolades for their excellence and achievements, long-time head coach Shaffer – having guided his alma mater to the third district championship (all in the last four years) of his tenure – stresses that team titles are the result of more than first-, second- or third-place finishes in individual events.
“Team titles are won at district because of great depth,” he spoke from experience. “You obviously have to have several athletes win events or place in the top three, but you cannot win a team title without having consistency throughout the day.”
A significant number of the points which helped make the difference in nosing out Maryville Saturday came from athletes who had the joy they fell from the team perspective tempered by disappointment at not having the necessary top-4 finish in their event(s) to continue their season on to sectional.
The CHS boys had four events in which one of their members placed fifth, contributing an invaluable 16 composite points in the team coffers, while also leaving the individual on the outside, looking in, for sectional.
For one of the four – Burk, the disappointment of missing the fourth place in the triple jump by a mere five inches (and, taking sixth, being only four inches away from fourth in the long jump) was assuaged a bit by having earlier posted his win in the high jump.
Similarly, Anderson just missed advancing in the 200-meters dash by just under a second, but still will run at sectional, thanks to the 1,600 relay result.
However, for distance runners William Perry and Logan Asher, scoring four points each in 1,600 and 3,200 meters, respectively, was pleasing, it also meant they had run their last 2018 race.
“William Perry may not have had his best time of the season, but he gave everything he had in trying to qualify and gave us four points that just happened to end up being the margin of our team victory,” saluted the coach.
It wasn’t only those four fifth-places and Burk’s sixth in the long jump which helped get the Hornets to the top, but also the seventh places by both the recalibrated 400- and 800-meters relay groups and Mullikin’s eighth place in the triple jump.
Saturday’s boys’ team championship outcome was in stark relief – a dead heat through 18 of the 19 events – at the start of the last running event because of the last of Graves’ three sectional-qualifying performances.
The big senior, a state medalist in the discus throw as a sophomore and shot put as a junior, already had won both of those when he went into the late-afternoon javelin throw, hoping to advance there, too, as he had on his way to throwing the spear at state last year.
With Maryville five points ahead of Chillicothe after outscoring the Hornets 18-4 in the second-to-last race (3,200), as each attempt in the javelin throw was made, the tide was working in CHS’ favor.
By the time the final throw sailed far down the grassy plain, Graves’ best try of the day – 139’10” had earned him fourth place by a scant eight inches. Even though about a dozen feet short of his CHS-record best of 152’7” at the same locale in early April, he had survived and advanced in a third event.
He also had picked up five points for his team, which – with Maryville not having anyone in the top eight in the event – meant both squads had the same points totals heading to the last event of the meet.
That gave the favored Chillicothe “4 by 4” relay group just a smidgen of elbow room, meaning it wouldn’t have to outscore Maryville by a certain number of points in the finale – just outscore it. It did.
Individually, Chillicothe’s renowned senior class shone brightly on the humid day as the sun went in and out of the substantial cloud cover.
Shaffer, seemingly impervious to the pressure of knowing his legitimate hopes of one or maybe two state titles now was on the line for the first of 3-straight weekends, was technically solid, if not exceptionally fast (by his standards), in winning his specialties – the hurdle races.
He clipped over the high hurdles and 110 meters in 15.67 seconds to win that event, besting the runnerup from Richmond by nearly a full second and more than a second faster than the third-place racer.
Later, he cruised to a 2-plus-seconds triumph in the 300 intermediates, winning in 40:06.
He wrapped up his solo races day by running the 200 in 23.16, trailing only a Kansas City: Central opponent, who was clocked in 22.58 seconds.
Graves’ pair of throwing victories both were clear-cut.
He flung the discus 157’9”, more than 17 feet farther than anyone else there, and heaved the shot 53’7”, a half-inch shy of three feet farther than any foe.
Willard’s win in the pole vault saw him be the only competitor surpassing 10 feet when he got over the bar a half-foot higher.
Chapman joined him in the top four, equaling the third-best cleared height of 9’6”, but getting fourth-place points on misses.
Burk’s busy day began early as both the long and high jumps started simultaneously at 10 a.m., coach Shaffer reports.
“Jon took his preliminary long jumps and then went over to high jump,” the coach recounts.  
“After he had finished (winning) the high jump, he went over and did his three finals jumps for the long jump.”
The conflict didn’t negatively impact the 6’7” senior’s high jump at all. In fact, after being one of a handful of contestants who cleared 6’ – Burk’s previous best, the Hornet was the only one of the five to go up and over at 6’2”, making him a district champion for the first time
“A great day for Jon and we hope he can let it carry over to the sectional,” says coach Shaffer.
What no one suspected it at the time, Burk also had critically impacted the eventual team title picture several hours down the line.
Had he not cleared 6’2”, he might have – on misses – slipped behind one or two Maryville jumpers and the points switch could have given MHS the team title several hours later.
For the CHS girls, Larson was second in the high hurdles in 16.98 seconds and fourth in the lows in 50.89.
Jones’ second place in the pole vault came by clearing 9’6” with Corzette third at 8’6”. Hibner jumped 14’9” in the long jump and the 3,200 relay ran 11:01.8.