Sectional meet-qualifying performances of senior in intermediate hurdles and freshman in discus highlight CHS' district track-and-field showing Saturday, May 11, 2019

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A pair of Chillicothe (Mo.) HS track-and-field Hornets who, less than three weeks earlier, had exhibited nothing like the level of performance needed to advance beyond district competition stood out as CHS headliners in Saturday’s (May 11, 2019) Class 3 District 8 meet at Chillicothe’s Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II.
A senior whose best time in the 300-meters intermediate hurdles prior to April 25 barely would have placed him in the top 10 Saturday and a freshman who hadn’t competed on the varsity level in a limited-entries meet until two weeks ago today each posted a top-4-or-better finish in Saturday’s meet, advancing them to this weekend’s state-qualifying sectional meet at Odessa. A top-4 showing at sectional sends a competitor on to the state meet late next week.
Lavery Jones, whose 45.69 seconds clocking in the 300 hurdles at the April 25 Midland Empire Conference meet was about two seconds faster than his previous personal best, cut another second off that Saturday, running a 44.65 that nabbed the fourth and final qualifying spot for section by 0.17 seconds. He had entered district competition with only the seventh-fastest season-best among the 15 entrants.
The other Hornets “rags-to-riches” story was spun by Damarcus Kelow in the discus throw, whose best distance in that event before participating in the junior-varsity division of the MEC meet had been just under 100’.
At conference, though, the ninth grader stunningly unleashed throws of 134’ and 137’, distances that would have easily won the MEC varsity-level crown. Proving not to be a “1-hit wonder,” he followed that a fling of just over 137’ at the Irish Relays meet at St. Joseph the following week.
That set the stage for the district meet, in which – with CHS’ last “tuneup” meet early last week being rained out – Kelow not only reset his personal-best, but jumped it all the way up to 144’11”, a distance which earned him second place and makes him a legitimate contender to go to state as a freshman thrower, a rare feat.
Those two individual accomplishments share CHS’ district-meet spotlight with the Hornets producing two relay wins and Lady Hornets senior hurdler Kylee Larson repeating her 2018 achievement of sectional qualification in both those barrier-hopping races.
All told, the Chillicothe girls qualified for sectional competition in eight events and the boys in seven.
Five Lady Hornets – district runnersup Kennedy Corzette (pole vault), Jordan Hibner (long jump), Abby Jones (discus throw), and Larson (high hurdles) and third-place finishers Montana Hall (shot put) and Larson (lows) – will be involved in six solo (“open”) events at Odessa. In addition, the Lady Hornets’ 400- (fourth) and 3,200-meters (third) relay groups move on. On the 4x100 relay unit were Delaney May, Hibner, Jones, and Larson; the 4x800 group involved Emma Burk, Katelyn Sullivan, Kadence Shipers, and May.
On the boys’ side, seven separate individuals – Luke Hopper and Kelow (discus), Isaak Rasche and Kaleb Mullikin (400), Rudy Yutzy (pole vault), William Perry (1,600), and Jones – will be in one sectional “open” event each. As with the girls, CHS also will send two relay units to Odessa after winning both the 800 and 1,600 events.
The 1,600 (4x400) group – which won the majority of its regular-season races, including at the MEC championships – had, for most of the season, seen senior Ethan Corbin leading off, followed by Mullikin, senior Peyton Forck, and Rasche, in that order. For the district meet, however, the coach swapped Mullikin and Corbin and the move paid off, even though it put Corbin into the unfamiliar position of also accepting a handoff and not just making one.
With the new sequencing, the Hornets quartet whacked almost two full seconds off its previous-best clocking, winning the district race by almost three seconds in 3:31.36, more than 2-1/2 seconds ahead of runnerup Cameron
That followed the grouping of junior Deon Reynolds, Mullikin, P. Forck, and Rasche zipping to a season-low time of 1:34.2 in capturing the 800 (4x200) relay by 0.78 over conference champion Maryville. It was the Chillicothe boys’ first win in that race all season.
With this week’s sectional meet pitting the top-4 finishers from both districts 7 and 8 in a “do-or-die,” finals-only competition, nominally the two best performers from each district would be considered more likely than not to comprise the top four at sectional and go on to state.
Under that scenario, Chillicothe would rate a better-than-even chance of getting eight of its 15 entries on to Jefferson City for the May 24-25 competition, but that obviously isn’t iron-clad. Any of CHS’ half-dozen third-place district performers could better District 7’s runnersup in those events. Conversely, District 7 third- or fourth-place finishers might be stronger in some of the six events in which a Hornet or Lady Hornet was second this past weekend.
With Chillicothe’s two district wins coming in relays, the potential combustibility of those more-intricate races – particularly the three shorter ones – always shrouds advancement in them in uncertainty until the races are over and “certified.”
Mullikin and Rasche understand that first-hand and only too well. A year ago, as half of the Hornets’ 1,600 relay group that looked to be a near-lock for a high-finish, state-meet medal, they never got a chance to compete at Jeff City. A controversial – and photographic evidence strongly suggested incorrect – decision by a race official to disqualify them for an alleged exchange-zone infraction during the sectional meet prevented them from even going to state.
Handoffs also are a constantly-lurking pitfall, as well, for any relay group, a point underscored this past weekend in the Class 1 sectional meet at Lathrop when Southwest Livingston, in a nip-and-tuck battle for a state berth in the 400 relay going to the final leg, saw its chance go “poof” in an eyeblink when its last exchange was fumbled, the baton falling to the track and, with it, the Wildcats’ chances of state qualification.
As for the sectional-qualifying Chillicotheans’ district performances this past weekend, in a double-meet (Class 4 District 8 events also took place at Litton Stadium, interwoven with the Class 3 events) competition whose organization, management, and execution drew raves from coaches of many of the more than two dozen schools involved, beyond the two winning relay times and Kelow’s and Jones’ strong showings, there was a mix of season-best and not-their-best showings and a couple that matched a prior peak effort.
Topping the former category were senior Perry in the boys’ 1,600 and the girls’ 3,200 relay. The former’s third-place time of 4:53.95 was about five seconds faster than he’d run the mile-plus this spring. The latter’s 11:07.91 that got it third, as well, cut almost 10 seconds off the Lady Hornets’ best in the race previously in 2019.
Also on the “plus” side of the “personal-best” equation were Hopper in the discus, his 138’1” almost three feet farther than his 135’4” top throw coming in; Larson, running a 16.88 in the 100-meters high hurdles that was 0.13 faster than her ’19 best; Mullikin’s 52-flat in the 400 that got him third by being 0.34 faster than his prior best; and the girls’ 400 relay cutting 0.28 off its previous fastest by running a 53.51.
Equaling their best were both advancing pole vaulters, as junior Corzette topped out at 8’ and sophomore Yutzy at 10’.
Advancing, while not posting a season-best, were Larson in the low hurdles (49.43 Saturday), Rasche in the 400 (52.6), Hall in the shot put (34’9-1/4”), Jones in the discus (104’3”), and Hibner in the long jump (15’10-3/4”). Of those five, only Rasche would have improved his finish by matching a previous 2019 best; he would have been second, rather than fourth.
L. Jones’ advancement in the boys’ 300-meters hurdles undeniably was aided by a critical occurrence in the same (second) heat he was in.
The two competitors who came in with the second- and fourth-fastest personal-best regular-season times – MEC champion Jacob Davenport and Trenton’s Matthew Sibbit, whose season-best time had come on the Chillicothe track during the Chillicothe Joe Shy Relays in early April – were disqualified, likely for either false starts or in-race fouls. Had either or both run the race and finished without incident, chances are good they’d have finished ahead of the Chillicothean, pushing him out of a sectional spot and down to fifth or sixth.
Team-wise, Chillicothe’s girls took fourth place with 74 points, far back of champion Lawson’s 135. In the boys’ division, CHS was fifth with 86-½ points. Well behind champion Maryville’s 133.