Five new CHS graduates to represent 'red and black' in state meet next weekend after controversy-tainted sectional meet at Odessa

ODESSA, Mo. — When the pressure was on Saturday, members of this school year’s Chillicothe High School group of graduates demonstrated again that, when using the 3-words phrase “class of 2018,” plenty of emphasis should be put on the first word.
The last activity of CHS’ 2017-18 year will be, as is regularly the case, sending a contingent to the state track-and-field meet.
When those state championships are contested at Jefferson City High School’s Pete Atkins Stadium this coming Friday and Saturday, Chillicothe’s delegation will be fully ripe with, technically, its newest alumni.
This past Saturday, five CHS entries placed among the top four finishers in an event at the controversy-dampened Class 3 sectional track-and-field meet Odessa High hosted. That earned for that elite group the right to go to state this week.
After a disputed ruling which disqualified CHS in the meet’s final boys’ event – the boys’ 1,600-meters relay, all of those state qualifiers is a 2017-18 Hornets or Lady Hornets senior.
The troupe of Chillicothe track-and-field state qualifiers includes recent grads Molly Jones (pole vault), Jack Willard (pole vault), Jon Burk (high jump), Walker Graves (shot put, discus throw), and Brett Shaffer (200-meters dash, 110-meters high hurdles, 300-meters intermediate hurdles).
Had the Hornets’ relay not been ruled to have committed a violation during an exchange – a ruling reportedly based on an official’s observation which photos appear to prove demonstrably mistaken, another new graduate – Jacob Anderson – and two underclassmen – Isaak Rasche and Kaleb Mullikin – also would be making the trip.
Appropriately, leading the Chillicothe lineup of state qualifiers will be its most-prolific performer all season and likely its brightest hope for state champion, Shaffer.
State runnerup in the 300 hurdles and third in the 110s a year ago, he is qualified for both of those running/jumping races again after winning the events at sectional.
He first bested the 8-racer field in the 110 highs by more than a second, an unusually wide margin for the brief event. The Hornet’s time of 14.79  was 0.12 seconds faster than his previous best this spring and 1.01 seconds than Saturday’s runnerup.
Next, in the 300 intermediates, he clicked off the distance in 39.11 seconds, a comfortable 1.69 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Shaffer’s best time this year before Saturday had been a 39.2.
While denied the chance to run at state with the 1,600 relay group, the son of long-time Hornets head coach Bill Shaffer also will be at state in a third solo event – the 200-meters dash – after being second in that at Odessa in 22.81 seconds, .01 faster than his prior 2018 best. The winner from Kansas City: Central ran a 22.26.
Joining Shaffer as a multiple-events advancer is Graves, who – while Shaffer is signed to continue as a track-and-field athlete at the University of Central Missouri – is signed to play football at Northwest Missouri State.
Graves won the shot put by nearly four feet with a best heave of 54’5” and took second in the discus throw at 159’6”, a bit over four feet shy of the win.
That will give him a chance to earn his second state medal in each of those weight-tossing competitions, having claimed third place with the shot a year ago and medaling with the discus as a sophomore.
Jones gets to sample state competition for the first time after vaulting over the bar at 9’3” Saturday. That comfortably gave her third place, as the fifth-to-last contestant to bow out went out at nine feet. The winner went on to clear 11’.
Jones will be the only Lady Hornet out of the five sectional entries the team had going to the state’s capitol city.
Like Jones, also making both an initial and final appearances in state competition will be Burk and Willard. Each made the most of his only sectional event.
Burk cleared 6’ in the high jump to finish third as a number of jumpers from the companion district involved in the Odessa sectional did not jump as well as they had the week before. Burk technically was in that same boat, having won district at 6’2”, but his dropoff was lesser.
The sectional high jump winner went on to clear 6’8”.
Willard, also a district champ, matched his winning height of the week earlier – 10’6”, but this time it only got him fourth place, although that was all he needed.
The Hornet became a certain state qualifier when he got over 10’6” and one of the other five remaining at that time did not. The sectional champ and runnerup topped out at 13’ even.
While the handful of alumni will carry CHS’ red-and-black colors on to the state’s capitol city, a number of Hornets and Lady Hornets had their 2018 season’s conclude at Odessa, none more regrettably so than the boys’ 1,600 (4x400) relay group.
With three returning members from last year’s sixth-place state medalists, that group looked to have only one scenario in which it would not be at state – being DQed.
Whether rightly or wrongly, that is what happened.
Soaring along in either first or second place at mid-race, the Hornets group was nicely positioned with its two strongest runners yet to run.
However, after second-leg runner Anderson handed the baton away to Isaak Rasche in the second lane of the track, as momentum carried the slowing Anderson farther down the track in that lane, C-T photos showed, the third runner for Stockton – who had received his handoff in the fourth lane in the middle of the track – legally chose to head for the inside lane as soon as he had secured the baton.
In doing so without looking ahead, he veered into potential traffic from the still-decelerating second runners from the teams ahead of his.
In doing so as he accelerated and the still-moving Anderson was looking over his left shoulder – staying in his to make certain he did not angle into the path of the just-passing Kansas City: St. Pius X runner who was right behind CHS’ Rasche, the Stockton runner slowed and cut more sharply left to avoid running up the back of Anderson’s leg. As he did so, the Chillicothean – looking for his proper opportunity to angle off the inside of the track – either caught him in his peripheral vision or heard him and dodged a bit back to his right to avoid the potential collision resulting from the Stockton runner’s choice.
The race continued to its conclusion with CHS cross the finish line first in school-record time, Lamar running a 3:26.88, and Stockton being next in 3:27.97, but afterward – either by Stockton’s formally protesting or by meet officials’ own decision – the mid-race incident was reviewed by a predetermined “appeals panel” of coaches. To coach Bill Shaffer’s self-described dismay and disbelief, even after providing evidence that clearly contradicted the allegation that Anderson had acted illegally, the decision was made to disqualify Chillicothe, thus denying it advancement to state it seemingly had earned and deserved.
Sophomore Rasche was a near-miss in his solo event, settling for fifth place in the 400-meters dash, his 50.86 being 0.26 seconds away from fourth.
CHS’ other non-state-qualifying sectional performances were clear cut, even though the athletes involved deserved full marks for having advanced that far.
Graves’ hopes of being involved in all three state throwing events came up unrealized when his best distance of the day – 134’4” – in the javelin throw fell exactly 13’ short of the fourth and final qualifying berth, leaving him seventh. Had he been able to get anywhere close to the CHS-record throw of 152’7” he made in an early-April meet, he’d have likely qualified for state in that event, too.
Two other CHS boys’ entrants besides the ill-fated relay came up short of state, as did four of the five girls’ entries. A top-4 finish at sectional was needed.
While Willard made it through in the pole vault, junior Jake Chapman was not able to clear the opening height and tied for sixth place.
In the distaff division, Chillicothe likewise had a second pole vaulter competing. There, sophomore Kennedy Corzette took seventh, clearing 8’.
Running in both hurdles races, like Br. Shaffer, junior Kylee Larson had her best showing in the 100-meters high, taking sixth in 17.08 seconds, 0.31 back of the final qualifier’s time. Her time was barely off her season’s best, which would not have advanced her, either.
In the 300 lows, Larson ran a likely-slowing-late 52.03, putting her seventh and 4.69 seconds back of the last state-advancing clocking.
The second CHS girls’ track entry at sectional – the 3,200-meters relay involving Carly Beebe, Elena Boon, Hunt-er Keithley, and Delaney May – ran eighth in 11:24.5.
The remaining Lady Hornet involved Saturday, sophomore Jordan Hibner, long-jumped 15’3”, a half-foot farther than her district distance. However, that left her nine inches shy of fourth place and in seventh spot.